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As the spring and summer storm season approaches, we all need to take steps to prepare our mobile homes (and traditional site-built homes as well) for thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes. Aside from basic mobile home safety measures, we'll also discuss some things to keep in mind for your family and pets.
If your home was built prior to 1994, the home and tie-downs were designed for winds up to about 90 mph (Category 1 hurricane). Those built after 1994 are designed to hold, with tie-downs, in winds up to 110 mph (Category 2/3 hurricane). This upgrade in mobile home manufacturing was due to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) imposed stronger building codes due to the punishing force that Hurricane Andrew unleashed on mobile homes. Check your mobile home's data plate for date of manufacture as well as the strength of winds that the home is built to withstand.
The anchoring systems are vital in keeping the structures from flipping over or being blown off supports during disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Anchor the mobile home with over-the-top, or frame, ties. Get frequent inspections as anchors, straps and tie-downs can become corroded or loose over time and have them replaced when necessary. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to hurricane-force winds and require special precautions.
The cost of replacing anchors is far below the cost of replacing your mobile home and most states have certification programs for mobile home installers who will have experience in inspecting and replacing these anchors.
When a storm threatens, do what you can to secure your mobile home, and then evacuate. If you have time before you leave, shut off propane tanks, leave them outside and anchor them down. Frequently during spring storm season and especially during hurricane season, clear porches, patios and yards of all objects that could become projectiles in high winds. Keep your landscaping trimmed and clear of dead tree branches as well.
We all know that hurricanes are destructive forces of nature and according to www.weather.com the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially opens on June 1st and continues through November 30th. While we are now some time away from it's official opening, it is NEVER too early to heed some basic safety precautions for our mobile home owners.
Frequently throughout the hurricane season: map safe routes inland and keep an up-to-date list of official shelters. Since most shelters do not allow pets, be sure to make emergency plans for pets too! Also, keep family members apprised of any evacuation plans you make. Since storms tend to knock out power, always keep an appropriate amount of cash on hand as credit cards may not always be accepted at grocery and convenient stores.
During a hurricane, ordinary objects inside your home can become a hazard. Anything that can move, fall or break may cause damage. Inspect your home at least once a year and address potential hazards, by securing bookshelves to the wall and anchoring water tanks.
When the hurricane is threatening, Close and lock shutters and secure other items before leaving. Turn off and disconnect water, gas, electricity and sewer lines. Go door to door to make sure everyone's out.
Identify shelter options by locating the nearest building of solid construction for possible use in the event of a tornado. Consider whether the shelter provides 24-hour public access and is less than ten minutes travel time from your mobile home or mobile home park.
Know where the nearest emergency warning siren is located and whether or not you can hear it at your home. Although most cities maintain an outdoor siren warning system, homes and businesses are encouraged to acquire a tone-activated Weather-Alert Radio with a battery backup. Weather-Alert radios provide the most constant and reliable source of information on severe storms broadcast directly from the National Weather Service Forecast Office. These alerts are specifically tailored to your location so you'll know you're getting the most accurate weather for your area. Weather-alert radios are available at most electronics retail stores and staff there can help you program it for your locale. A battery-powered AM/FM radio should also be maintained for emergency information.
Above all, no matter the type of storm you're facing, always develop evacuation/shelter plans for your family based upon the various amounts of warning time that might be available.
Check out the following link from the National Weather Service for more information on hurricane preparedness and post-storm warnings:
FEMA has published an informative brochure called Against the Wind. To order a free copy of Against the Wind, call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-480-2520. To view online, visit www.fema.gov and type in the search field: FEMA publication Against the Wind.
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