TAMPA, Fla. - One way to cut your losses during a storm is to make sure your house is fortified. A Florida research team is working hard to make sure homeowners know exactly what's best when it comes to securing your property.
The team at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, or IBHS, tests building materials and building codes to see how well structures hold up in a storm.
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit , scientific research and communication organization supported by the property insurance industry.
"We're trying to help people figure out how to make their houses economically stronger so that they resist the storms much better," explained Dr. Tim Reinhold, Senior Vice President of research and Chief Engineer for IBHS.
Dr. Reinhold told WINK that a lot has been learned since Hurricane Andrew.
"South Florida region and the rest of the coastal areas began to get engaged in really bringing their codes up and strengthening them," he pointed out.
And that meant while still devastating, damage from Hurricane Charley wasn't as bad as it could have been.
"Hurricane Charley, for example, was the highest winds that we've seen from a hurricane since Hurricane Andrew and none of the new houses-- there were no demolition permits pulled on any of the new houses," explained Dr. Reinhold.
One of the best ways to protect your home? Reinforce your roof by strengthening the connections.
"The Hawaiians have a way of saying that God lives in the connections. And it certainly is true in houses, that connections are the weak point; so, that's where a lot of the attention needs to be paid," said Dr. Reinhold.
For less than a dollar each, you can attach metal straps to your roof rafters and you'll find them in all new homes in Florida. But for older homes, if you are missing the straps or don't have them at all, there's another solution: protect your windows.
"If that pressure gets in, it's like blowing up a balloon and now you're pushing up on that ceiling and you're pushing that whole roof up. In most cases where we've seen a whole roof lift off of a house, there's been a big opening, a plate glass window or a door has burst open, pressure got in, and then it overcame the strength," explained Dr. Reinhold.
And if you have to put on a new roof, Dr. reinhold says make sure you seal it as well.
"One way of doing that is to put this kind of tape that is very sticky, over the seams.... so if you do lose the roof cover, water won't come pouring through. What we've seen is a lot of water will come down the plywood and it will come through the joints and it will just pour down into the attic," he said.
Another tip Dr. reinhold passed along? Take a look at your soffit material. That's the stuff that basically protects the bottom of your overhang on your roof. By beefing up that material and making sure it's well attached, there's less chance of having it blown out during a storm, and that means water won't have a way to get in.