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Winter Park-Maitland Observer
Time to Prepare as Storm Season Approaches

City Talk Submission
Time to Prepare as Storm Season Approaches 
Submission Date:  May 20, 2014

As we all know here near the tropics, occasionally we receive unwanted visitors.  No, not your long lost cousin and his fifteen kids going to a theme park -- we’re referring to hurricanes or tropic storms.   The season officially runs from June 1 to November 30 every year and can cause quite a stir when we experience an active season.

Here in Central Florida we all know we’re not immune to the effects of hurricanes and when such storms threaten, we do need to take appropriate actions and precautions.  Even a well-designed and custom-built home can still be damaged by flying debris and falling trees. 

It is very important to keep any items which could become airborne in a storm inside the house or tied down in the event of a storm.  Items such as trash cans, lawn furniture, swing sets, or just yard waste like tree branches can become very damaging and deadly missiles in high winds.  Some items which are not affected by water could even be sunk in your swimming pool to keep them from becoming projectiles.

You may want to have any large trees on your property inspected by a reputable tree service.  Tree service employees are familiar with the signs of weakness in trees such as rotten or weak limbs.  They can also prune the trees of any overgrowth in a tree canopy which has become too thick.  When tree canopies have become too thick they can act like a sail or umbrella causing excessive stress on the tree’s root system and possibly causing the tree to topple.
 
A house is designed as a whole unit which includes the entire envelope of walls, roof, windows, and doors.  If any part of the unit fails, the entire unit can fail, which is why so much stress has been put upon wind load designs for structures in the last few years.   The largest opening in a home is normally the garage door.  If you are not sure if your garage door will stand up to hurricane force winds, you can add some stability to it by simply backing your car up tight against the door in an emergency.  Door reinforcement kits are available for purchase through supply houses. 

The next most vulnerable openings in a house are the windows.  These could be covered with commercially available shutters or you could use plywood.  APA-The Engineered Wood Association does have a set of guidelines available for the design of such shutters that may be found at http://www.apawood.org

Along with preparing your home for storms, you should remember to prepare your family or business through education and development of an emergency plan.   Such a plan is very essential and should include procedures for personal or business disaster recovery.  Planning information may be found at the following website and addresses:
 
http://www.fema.gov/ - The Federal Emergency Management Agency website with information dealing with both family and business emergency planning.

 http://www.ready.gov/are-you-ready-guide is very useful.

http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp - The Florida State Office of Emergency Management website

We encourage each family and business to plan and prepare for emergencies both large and small.   Contingencies should be in place to provide for the safety and health of individuals and businesses.   Your Maitland Fire Rescue Department realizes such planning may seem daunting at first and stand ready to provide guidance and assistance as needed at (407) 539-6226.
 




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