Debunking the Five Most Dangerous Hurricane Preparedness Myths

As 2011 hurricane season peaks with the passing of Hurricane Irene and the looming threat of Tropical Storm Katia, FLASH is stepping up its efforts to stamp out the top five most dangerous hurricane preparedness myths.

MYTH #1:  Masking tape, duct tape or window film prevents damage and protects families.

FACT:  Placing tape on glass is a waste of time.  Masking tape does not protect windows from wind-borne debris.  Some believe tape or film may help keep broken glass shards from dispersing.  This is wrong.  When high winds or projectiles hit windows, masking tape can and has caused large, taped segments of glass to blow into homes causing injury to those in the path.  Also, taping windows wastes precious time that could be used for more effective storm preparations, never mind how much of a mess tape is to clean up.  To provide effective protection, all windows and openings such as entry doors, garage doors, and gable end vents should be covered with tested and approved panels or shutters, or be built of impact-resistant materials.  Homes without permanent hurricane protection can be adequately protected on a temporary basis with properly placed 5/8” plywood in an emergency.

MYTH #2:  Light candles if power goes out.

FACT:  NEVER use candles or gas or oil lanterns during a storm; they increase risk of fire or ignition of damaged, leaking gas lines.  If a fire starts in your home during the storm, firefighters may not be able to respond.  Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns and canned heat.  Never use a barbecue grill indoors.

MYTH #3:  Crack or open windows to allow wind pressure inside the house thus equalizing the pressure outside and preventing damage.

FACT:  Opening windows simply allows the wind, debris and rain to enter the home.  It’s a myth that has perpetuated because of the way buildings appear to fail in high winds. Today, experts and wind scientists agree that the most important thing to do is keep all windows and doors closed to prevent wind from entering and causing internal pressurization.

MYTH #4:  Protect only windows and doors facing the ocean.

FACT:  Wind can come from any direction or angle and may change direction quickly.  Don’t play the prediction game.  Instead, use approved panels or shutters.  Impact-resistant windows, shutters and doors should have a proof of compliance identified on a sticker or label, or imprinted into the product. Check to be sure your shutters are working properly and fit securely.

MYTH #5:  Sandbags can prevent water from entering a home.

FACT:  Sandbags may channel or direct water away from a home, but only if they are properly filled, placed and maintained.  Fill sandbags only half full, tap into place and limit placement to three layers.

For more hurricane and other disaster safety tips, visit the FLASH website at www.flash.org.

One thought on “Debunking the Five Most Dangerous Hurricane Preparedness Myths

  1. Addition to Myth #4:

    Cover ALL openings of property with shutters. Do not leave ANY unprotected, because “that window is so close to my neighbor’s house”, etc. If the wind has any way of entering that uncovered opening, the force inside will be even greater and may cause the roof to lift off.

    Barbara Zee

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