When should you evacuate? Is it expensive to strengthen your home? Many Americans actually don't know the correct answers to these questions.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) recently conducted an online survey of 2,112 people age 18 and older in the U.S. The survey tested respondents' beliefs on specific hurricane mitigation, preparedness, and repsonse statements.
The survey uncovered four big hurricane preparation myths that many Americans wrongly believe.
One thing respondents did know, however, is that flooding is not covered by homeowners insurance (52%). Only 21% of respondents believed most homeowners insurance policies cover flooding, while 27% said they don't think flood is covered.
And that's not all.
MYTH: 84% of respondents believe hurricane evacuations are based on wind speed.
FACT: Hurricane evacuation zones are defined by the threat of storm surge and inland flooding rather than wind speed or hurricane category, because storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property.
The National Hurricane Center determines evacuation zones by analyzing an area's ground elevation and vulnerability to storm surge. If you live in an evacuation zone, keep in mind that tropical storms, Category 1 and 2 hurricanes, post-tropical cyclones, and Nor'easters can all cause storm surge.
MYTH: 81% of respondents believe building codes are stronger for coastal communities.
FACT: Coastal communities -- those with the greatest potential for hurricanes -- do not use stricter residential building codes to mitigate hurricane damage. This is especially troublesome because 27% of homeowners believe homes built to code won't sustain damage from a hurricane -- which is also false.
MYTH: 69% of of respondents believe strengthening their homes against hurricanes will cost them more than $10,000.
FACT: Retrofitting your home to be stronger during hurricanes can prevent you from having to spend thousands in repairs after a storm hits -- and can cost as little as $1,100. With that amount, homeowners can brace garage doors, install plywood shutters, and seal the roof deck to reduce wind uplift.
FLASH breaks down the costs like this:
- Garage doors can be braced for as little as $150.
- Windows and sliding glass doors can be protected from flying debris with temporary plywood shutters, which range in price from $275 to $750. You can also use corrugated steel or aluminum shutters which range from $7 to $15 per foot.
- A peel-and-stick water barrier can be applied when getting your roof redone to prevent water intrusion for as little as $750.
- When putting a roof on a new construction, hurricane straps and clips can be applied for 50 cents each to prevent the roof from flying off.
MYTH: 54% of repondents believe taping windows with masking, duct or "hurricane" tape helps prevent hurricane damage.
FACT: Taping windows does not stop windows from breaking during a hurricane. It wastes preparation time and does not make clean up easier. Tape can actually create larger shards of glass and cause more injuries.
The best way to prevent windows and doors from shattering or caving in is to make sure they are constructed with impact-resistant materials. Temporary plywood storm shutters are a good option for an emergency -- just don't waste your time taping.