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Tips on securing your home during a hurricane

Broken windows and damaged roofs were not the only things welcoming homeowners back to Gulf Shores after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

In many cases, their homes had a distinct yet repulsive odor.

“You can imagine rotting meat from a refrigerator or freezer left over for a couple of weeks,” Gulf Shores Chief Building Official Brandan Franklin said.

Getting rid of perishables is but one advice city officials in Mobile and Baldwin counties give to homeowners when preparing their property for a storm.

Aside from this basic kitchen advice, additional suggestions are more construction-related: Board up your windows, install hurricane straps and anchor garage doors.

Outside home structure, officials recommend homeowners clear low branches or weak and dead tree limbs.

“Usually, this close to the season, your options are limited,” John Kilcullen, director of plans and operations with Mobile County’s Emergency Management Agency, said.

Window preparation

The most common home protection strategy is for the homeowner to board up his or her windows.

Storm shutters, purchased at home supply retailers like Lowe’s or Home Depot, can be installed to protect windows. Plywood shutters, made by the individual homeowner, are common protection additions.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Against the Wind” advisory, the following installation methods should be considered:

  • Measure each window and each door that has glass and add 8 inches to both the height and width to provide a 4-inch overlap on each side of the window or door.
  • Sheets of plywood are generally 4-foot by 8-foot. Tell your local building supply retailer the size and number of openings you need to cover to determine how many sheets to buy.


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