It will take a lot of huffing and puffing to blow this house down
Floridians brace for an intense hurricane season with strong and efficient building reinforcement in "hurricane houses."
Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 16:22
HURRICANE HOUSE: When that dreaded Category 4 or 5 hurricane comes through, this house isn't going anywhere. (Photo: Laura Early)
Every afternoon about this time (3:23 p.m. to be precise), the rolls of thunder warn of the downpour that is about to ensue. It's the wet season, and more importantly the beginning of hurricane season in south Florida, a hurricane season that is predicted to be quite intense. NOAA estimates between eight and 14 hurricanes in the Atlantic, three to seven of which could be Category 3, 4 or 5.
This may not be an unusual trend since one of the symptoms of global climate change is a higher incidence of frequent and intense storms. Thinking long term, it may be beneficial to make some investments to armor your home against strong winds and water.
University of Florida has four "Hurricane House" models that showcase hurricane-proofing options. The house is made sturdy by insulated concrete-form walls that also help make heating and cooling more efficient. Reinforced with steel bars and layers of foam insulation, these walls are ideal for protection against damage from earthquakes and wild fires, too.
When it comes to violent storms, other critical features of the house are the windows, doors, and the roof. The "Hurricane Houses" boast high-impact glass windows, reinforced garage doors, and the roofing adhesive FoamSeal, all materials that can be applied to existing homes.
When it comes down to it, the probability that a hurricane will strike your home in any given year is small, but it is always better to be prepared. Also, check with your insurance company for discounts for hurricane-proof renovations.
This is the first time I have lived in a hurricane-prone region, and with the threat of an especially eventful hurricane season and exacerbated effects from the oil spill, I could be in for a surprise. I do have at least one thing going for me: I am living in a home built using the same hurricane-proof features as the model "Hurricane House."
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't happen, but if a nasty storm does come this way, I'll let you know how the house holds up.