Start Preparing for An Active Hurricane Season
Oh boy, just what we need, a prediction for an above-average 2022 Atlantic hurricane season forecast from the experts at Colorado State University. The experts are anticipating at least 19 named storms, 9 of which will become hurricanes and 4 that will become major hurricanes of a category 3 or more. It should be noted that from 1880 to 2020, Florida has been hit by a hurricane within 50 miles of its coast 29 percent of the time, but this year the odds are going up to 44 percent. NOAA is also predicting a weakening El Nino cycle giving way to a La Nina which predicts less wind shear in the Atlantic basin.
The first item of business in preparation for this hurricane season is to check your homeowner’s insurance policy because you need to verify coverage. I know getting politicians in Tallahassee to do anything constructive is almost impossible, but someone up there needs to address this serious issue of tens of thousands of Floridians that could have homes destroyed by storms this year with no coverage or dropped coverage. Many experts predict the quasi-public-private Citizens Homeowners Insurance program could go bankrupt if the state has a bad hurricane season. Citizens Insurance is the insurance of last resort for homeowners who are dropped out of the public market, and to get the program, homeowners must go through mandated steps.
Once you verify insurance coverage, and before the first hurricane watch of the season is announced, begin working to get tasks completed around the house to prepare for the season. Trying to have preparations done during a watch or warning in this tight labor market may be virtually impossible, especially if you are not physically able to do it yourself. Prepare your home for a hurricane now while the weather is still nice.
The next and probably most important item in preparing for hurricane season is cutting trees, bushes, and limbs away from your home, especially around the roof area. Most of the damage from hurricanes in Central Florida comes from dead limbs falling on homes or leaning on roofs. A limb close to or setting on a roof during a hurricane can be like industrial sandpaper that scrapes shingles and felt off your roof. Additionally, flying limbs can easily pierce roofing and decking, allowing water infiltration.
Next, inspect your gutters to ensure they are clean and functioning. If gutters are clogged, the water backup on your roof can cause real damage. A gutter connected to a failed French drain system can backup water into a home. Also, be sure to look at the end of downspouts to ensure proper materials are in place to limit erosion.
Inspect all caulking around windows and doors. One of the biggest problems during a hurricane in this area is the intrusion of water. Homeowners have a misconceived notion that caulk around windows and doors is a one-time, set-it-and-forget it situation. Homeowners should re-caulk and check for leaks yearly, as caulking will cracks and peel.
It is always a good plan to check your roof shingles, especially around valleys and roof boots, to ensure there are no leaks. In hurricane wind, shingles that are poorly nailed, adhered, or aged will fail. Don’t go into hurricane season with a leaky roof because you risk significant damage to your home. Plus, quick fix globs of tar or spray stuff typically do not work - hire a professional roofer.
Check your doors and locks, including garage doors. Before the winds start pushing on your doors make sure the locks are fully latching and the doors are plumb, square, and level to prevent water intrusion. It is imperative the springs on garage doors are adjusted properly to ensure doors can be lifted manually if power is lost. Also, consider installing a battery-backup garage door opener for power outages.
If you have a generator and supply line hookup on your home, check them for any issues before the winds start howling. Just before a hurricane makes landfall, it is virtually impossible to have a small engine mechanic tune up a generator or electrician check your main switch breaker. Have your generator ready to crank, plug in, and use in case of power outages.
Another important detail to consider is that building material supply chains remain very disrupted and getting supplies like plywood, fasteners, tarps, and generators during a time of a hurricane threat could be very challenging and expensive. Try to figure out the items you need to secure your home and property while the weather is good and find a place around your home to store it. This might be the best idea of the season.
Finally, check the supplies in your emergency home kit for flashlights, batteries, water, and first aid products. Also, make sure to stock up on plenty of non-perishable food items to get through the season. Be ready for an emergency in the event you are part of the 44 percent chance of a hurricane making landfall in Florida. If you prepare properly, you will be ready despite the hurricane forecast and you will have time to focus on your most important priority - protecting the well being of your family.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.