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Hurricane Retrofit Guide

This Guide is intended to help you decide how to protect your home against the winds and rains of hurricanes. And, it is intended to help you decide what protection measures to take first. You will find that many of the retrofits or protective measures are easy to do for a physically fit homeowner. Other things may require the expertise of a handyman or contractor. For some homeowners, the information may at various points be "over their head" because it becomes too technical. That is ok, because the guide is intended to provide the homeowner with ideas as well as providing people familiar with construction or in the construction business with the technical help they may need to protect your home.

This is the Second Edition of the Hurricane Retrofit Guide. It has been completed in 2010 and includes knowledge gained from field and laboratory studies conducted since 2006. This edition includes the latest changes in building codes that address existing buildings and has been reorganized to make it easier to look up retrofits appropriate for specific systems, parts or portions of buildings. It also includes New Features that provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions and allow you to Ask the Experts to clarify issues or details related to points raised or retrofits described in the guide.

By clicking on one of the dots on the picture below, you can begin to explore the risks associated with various parts of your house and the kinds of actions that will protect your home. The information is intended to provide guidance on best practices.

In addition to the specific building related retrofits that can be accessed either by clicking on one of the dots or the buttons along the left hand side of the page, there are also buttons along the left hand side that will direct you to things you should consider doing before a hurricane threatens, some ideas for how to start the recovery process if you do suffer damage, some guidance on prioritizing the retrofits your home may need to make it more hurricane resistant, a common location where all of the checklists scattered throughout the web site can be accessed, and finally some links to other web sites that you may find helpful.

Picture of house with features noted Roofs Features & Equip Walls Windows, Doors, & Shutters Roofs & Attics Porches and Attached Structures

Because your roof is so important to the survival of your house and your possessions, you might want to start your exploration of this website by looking over the information on Roofs. You will learn how your roof and your attic ventilation system can make your house vulnerable to damage in a hurricane and what kinds of things can be done to reduce these risks.

Next to the roof, the greatest risk for most houses is the failure of a window or door. To learn more about windows and doors and how they can be protected you might want to click on Windows, Doors & Shutters.

Don't overlook reading about leaks in the various sections of this guide. Once you get to the point where you don't have water pouring into your house from missing roof sheathing or a failed window or door, leaks can occur through your attic ventilation system, around windows and doors, and lots of other places that you might not have thought of, resulting in lots of damage and possibly mold. There are suggestions for reducing leaks in almost every section that deals with a part of your house.

As wind speeds climb above Saffer-Simpson Category 1 level, the importance of having all parts of your house connected together and working as a system to resist the wind forces becomes more and more important. Learn about how you can tie the roof to the walls and the walls to the floor structure and foundations in the Walls section of the guide.

You will find as you read the guide that you are strongly encourage to evaluate your house. To help you, this guide provides both discussions of things to evaluate and checklists to make the evaluation easier. You can get to the checklist for a particular evaluation from the various sections.

Once you evaluate your house, you will likely develop a list of things you would like to remedy, but likely you can't do them all at once. The Priorities & Incentives section of the guide is intended to help you prioritize that wish list by discussing risks and benefits and pointing out possible incentives that may help reduce the overall costs.

This guide deals primarily with things you should do well in advance of a hurricane. However, there are last minute things you will need to do Before a Hurricane strikes and other things you may need to do After a Hurricane if your home is damaged.

Although you can't "hurricane proof" your house, you may well be able to make it more "hurricane resistant" and help give it a chance to survive. This guide is intended to assist you in setting priorities for retrofits that can increase the chances of your house surviving a hurricane. An emphasis has been placed on setting priorities based on what can be accomplished in a cost effective manner. Of course houses differ, so the priorities may not perfectly apply to your home. However, the advice is based on years of scientific and engineering laboratory research, field testing on real houses, and hurricanes. Consequently, the information contained in this guide should be a good starting point for making your house better able to withstand the winds and rain of a hurricane.

Disclaimer:

The reader is cautioned that there is no such thing as a "hurricane proof" house. Furthermore, materials and systems frequently degrade over time. Neither the Florida Department of Community Affairs, who funded this effort, nor the Institute for Business & Home Safety, who developed this guide, warrants this guide or any of the retrofits undertaken as a result of your use of this information.


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Division of Emergency Management
Bureau of Mitigation
2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100
Voice: (850) 922-4079

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