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FEMA: Act Now to Prepare for Hurricanes

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging Florida homeowners to protect themselves from strong storms, even though hurricane season starts June 1.

WASHINGTON – Even though the start of hurricane season is months away, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants Florida homeowners to start preparing now. The agency said acting quickly can protect against potential disasters, long before the season starts on June 1.

Safeguarding a home doesn’t have to be costly or extensive, FEMA mitigation specialists said. In some cases, it can be as easy as pruning oversized trees and shrubs away from a home and clearing drains and gutters.

Taking steps now can reduce losses from natural disasters and increase a home’s ability to withstand severe weather, including hurricanes, floods, storm surge, winds and other hazardous events. In some cases, the steps can lower the cost of homeowner’s flood insurance premiums and increase property values, FEMA said.

FEMA also recommends some other measures:

  • Elevate or floodproof heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and/or mechanical units, ductwork, electrical systems and other utilities.
  • Install hurricane shutters to protect windows and glass doors.
  • Reinforce garage and double-entry doors to prevent failure under wind pressure.
  • Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages and other enclosed areas.
  • Use flood-resistant materials in areas of the home below the base flood elevation (BFE). For example, replace carpeting with tiles or use flood-resistant insulation and gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock).
  • Anchor any fuel tanks to the floor. Make sure the vents and fill line openings are above the BFE. (This may require approval from the fuel provider.) Fuel tanks can tip over or float, releasing fuels in liquid or gas form creating a fire or explosion hazard.
  • Install a backflow valve on the sewer system to prevent sewage back up in the home.
  • Add a waterproof veneer to exterior walls to prevent damage from shallow flooding. Seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.

FEMA also recommends elevating homes in accordance with local and state regulations.

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