Structural upgrades to older homes can protect against hurricane destruction and prevent the most common types of windstorm damage, experts say.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes says by spending about 2 percent more when building or paying to retrofit a house, residents can feel safer about its chances in hurricane-speed winds.

The group recommends retrofitting older homes by:

1. Securing the roof. Older homes most likely were built with plywood secured by nails 4 to 6 inches apart, which isn’t enough. Every nail reduces the chances that the plywood will come up. If hurricane-resistant nails are used, the chance of the plywood coming loose is less.

2. Installing secondary water barriers. The alliance recommends adhesive, waterproof strips along the edges of boards on the roof. It’s a relatively new concept that can protect what’s inside the house if shingles come off.

3. Using “Code plus” roof coverings. “Code plus” means the tiles or shingles are attached with extra nails and adhesive.

4. Reinforcing walls. A way to prevent gable walls from buckling is to put hurricane clips on the 2-by-4s in the attic.

5. Strengthening roof-to-wall connections. Hurricane clips also should be used to attach the walls to the roof and one floor to another.

6. Protecting windows. Skylights, windows and glass sliding doors are all points of vulnerability. All these openings should have coverings or shutters to keep from shattering in a storm.

7. Strengthening doors. The alliance recommended replacing doors that swing inward with out-swinging doors and adding a shutter door if there isn’t one. Garage doors also should be reinforced.

Best way to protect your house

The best way to protect houses from a hurricane is to seal all the doors and windows from damaging winds, experts say.

Although many home-owners affix sheets of plywood over windows and doors, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, a nonprofit, nongovernmental group that advocates for safer houses, recommends shutters as the best long-term solution.

When purchasing shutters, it’s important to choose products that are tested and approved, according to the group. The Miami Dade County Standard is the most stringent.

The group provides an interactive tool on how to install shutters.

It offers suggestions on whom to call and how much shutters will cost at

Renters should first check with their landlords before installing shutters.

From Staff Reports

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