Scientists have been urging people to pay attention to climate change for several years, especially as it relates to hurricane-prone areas. With more people deciding to build homes and businesses in high-risk zones, it’s important to use hurricane-resistant building materials that can withstand the flooding, high winds, flying debris, and other hazards.
Hurricanes And Building Codes
Florida, which experiences a fair share of the nation’s hurricanes, upgraded its building codes after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. For the past 27 years, builders have had to use nails instead of staples when placing roof shingles, use a stronger type of tie to bind walls and roofs, and install impact windows.
The changes meant that buildings erected under the new codes withstood the physical demands of hurricanes better than older buildings. This was evident in the most recent hurricane to hit Florida, which was hurricane Irma in late 2017.
Architectural Considerations To Withstand Hurricanes
In addition to making the above changes, builders must consider the placement of a new structure as well as the materials used to construct it. For example, a building constructed on sandy or shallow ground will quickly collapse if a storm surge reaches at least 15 feet. Sheetrock walls will literally disintegrate. A better solution is to place the home or commercial building on concrete or steel beams that have been elevated and securely attached to solid rock.
If the roof of a structure is not firmly attached to its foundation via the walls, the strong winds of a hurricane can rip it right off. Applying hurricane harness strapping to the roof when constructing the new structure can help to prevent this.
As for the roof itself, a geodesic roof created with concrete or wood will do a better job of withstanding the forceful winds of a hurricane than a square roof. Since wind that gets in through a door or window can blow the roof off, securing both with appropriate shutters is essential.
Avoiding Areas With A High Hurricane Risk
People purchasing an existing home or having a new home custom-built should avoid known flood zone areas. Homes in these areas are certain to flood during a hurricane. If there is no way around building or purchasing a home in a flood zone, the buyer should be certain that the elevation is as high as possible.
When building or buying a house in a known hurricane zone, the house should be on the highest point of the land. Areas located at the edge of a slope or low areas will see significantly more damage during a hurricane because water will rush towards it immediately.
Creating a swale around the house will help move water away from it more quickly. A swale is a part of the land at a lower elevation that creates a natural barrier to move water away from a building structure.
When a hurricane strikes, the preservation of life is always the highest concern. It may be necessary for people to leave their homes to find a safer place to ride out the storm. Although it can be difficult to leave home, a house can always be repaired or rebuilt if necessary.
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