LEE COUNTY, Fla.- For years Southwest Floridians have heard all sorts of tips and advice about surviving hurricanes. We decided to talk with the experts to separate fact from fiction.
"There are so many people here who have not been through a storm of any size at all," said Brian Rist, owner of the Smart Companies in Ft. Myers.
One of his companies installs wind protection on homes. Rist is an expert on tropical weather, with decades in the business of assessing and preventing damage to buildings.
Many have heard, taping your windows will prevent the wind from breaking them. Fiction, says Rist.
"It doesn't really do any good. You will wind up with sticky mess on your windows from the masking tape," he told WINK News.
What about opening a window on the north side of your house, to even out air pressure as the storm comes through? Fiction, also.
"You want to keep your house as an envelope against the wind, with no openings or cracks. Opening a window will defeat your purpose entirely," says Rist.
Next we've heard you should hunker down in your bathtub as a place of last resort for protection inside the home. Fact!
"The bathtub is strong, it's cemented into the structure of the house, and it has solid material on three sides. If you get down in the tub and then maybe pull a mattress over yourself, you are as protected as you probably can be in a situation of very strong winds," says Rist.
Another tip that is valid: Locking your garage door as the storm approaches, and using vise-grips to secure the door to the tracks. That should prevent the door from wobbling in the wind, or moving up and down the tracks.
What about slicing a cut in your pool screen, to let the wind blow in? It's a fact that it's a good idea.
"The cut will let the rain in also, so the raindrops do not form a sail on the screen. The wind can come in and it probably will save your cage structure. Of course, you will have to replace the screen and that is not covered by insurance. But that is going to be cheaper than replacing the entire cage structure, which is more expensive than screening," Rist told WINK.
Finally, what about holding a hurricane party, with liquid refreshments, to ward off the stress of an approaching storm? It's a fact that it's a good idea, according to Kim Bailey of North Fort Myers.
"People feel relaxed, you are with friends, and it relieves the stress!"