Myths can hinder preparation


Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 1:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 1:45 p.m.

As hurricane season begins, many Alachua County residents are readying plans to help protect themselves and their property during a storm. But making preparations based on some of the most common hurricane myths can cause more harm than good. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Remember, Alachua County is at risk:

As the 2004 hurricane season showed, it isn't just coastal areas that are at risk from hurricanes. Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances were responsible for three deaths in Alachua County and caused an estimated $9 million in property damage.

Keep the wind out:

The dramatic drop in air pressure that accompanies hurricanes has convinced some that opening windows away from the wind will keep their homes safe. This tactic supposedly allows pressure to equalize, preventing the high pressure in the house from stressing weaker parts of the building and causing them to be blown out. But besides being unnecessary since houses are not airtight and will equalize the pressure on their own this tactic can actually expose a building and its contents to greater danger. All of the doors and windows should be closed (and shuttered) throughout the duration of a hurricane.

Forget the Xs:

Sure, masking tape crisscrossed on windows gives a house a storm-ready look. But tape isn't strong enough to keep windows from shattering in a storm. About 23 percent of Floridians responding to a poll by the Washington, D.C., firm Mason-Dixon Polling and Research said they thought masking tape would prevent windows from shattering. To keep the wind out most experts recommend putting up at least 3/4" of plywood or using permanent storm shutters.

Don't stay in mobile homes:

Tying down a mobile home won't make it a safe place to ride out a hurricane. High winds and water-filled soil can make for a dangerous combination, making it more likely that mobile-home anchors can be uprooted.

Sources: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.

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