As hurricane Irma barrels toward the Lowcountry, residents are beginning to prepare for the worst. Many stores were already completely out of any kind of water last night and gas stations are already beginning to see lines and empty pumps. Whenever these storms approach, preparation and safety lists begin making their rounds; whether it’s at the office, between friends, or on social media. While this advice is definitely given with the best intentions, much of the information circulated regarding hurricane safety is false.
Perhaps one of the most widely believed methods for preparing one’s house for a hurricane is to tape the windows with either the hope of strengthening the glass from impact or to reduce the amount of glass entering the house if the window shatters. According to the CEO of FLASH (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes), this is not only useless but can actually result in larger, more dangerous shards of glass entering the home should the window shatter. Stick to certified storm shutters and plywood to board up your windows.
Another commonly held belief when it comes to preparing for hurricanes is that most of the resulting deaths are due to the powerful winds. This is a fallacy. Water is far and away the deadliest part of a hurricane. According to a study by the National Hurricane Center, “seven of eight fatalities from tropical cyclones in the U.S. from 1963 through 2012 were from either storm surge, rainfall flooding, high surf, or occurred offshore within 50 nautical miles of the coast”. They call out storm surge specifically as the biggest threat to human life.
Be prepared for Irma, but please, please make sure the steps you are taking to secure your property are actually valid. I have listed a few other hurricane myths below, but be safe this coming week and prepare appropriately. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any real estate questions before or after the storm. Good luck everyone!
- You should crack your windows to alleviate pressure
- Only coastal regions are at risk
- You are safe from damaging winds if you are on the upper floors of a building (in fact, winds can be stronger the higher in elevation you go)
- If I have homeowner’s insurance I’m protected from hurricane damage (check with your agent!)
- It doesn’t look so bad so I’ll be fine (storms are constantly changing and they do not have to be a category 4 or 5 to be utterly devastating)