(ARA) - Like a scene from a Hollywood movie, winter winds rage through town, whipping up leaves, smacking shutters against siding and sending shingles flying. Huge trees snap like feeble twigs. It's no mystery why scary movies often portray ominous scenes against a backdrop of a dark and stormy night. It's even more frightening in real life.
The roof over your head is your home's critical shield of protection from high winds and rain, and it's often the first to be damaged during a windy storm. But with a few simple modifications and defensive strategies, homeowners can prepare their most valuable asset to stand up against even the harshest elements.
Start with the roof, a home's first line of defense in protection from wind.
During a storm, wind hits the top of the roof and then travels down the exterior walls to the foundation. If the roof components can't withstand the wind's force, damage can occur all the way to the foundation. Quality roofing products can help prevent the heartache of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
According to Bert Elliott of Owens Corning, "Investing in a premium, wind-resistant shingle can help minimize the damage you could face in a high-wind event -- so that during the next windy day you can relax and know that your roof is ready for the challenge."
With solid shingles in place, now look to the rest of the house to make sure it's secure. For example, anchoring bolts with heavy-gauge square bolt washers to connect the floor construction to the foundation is a small task that helps ensure added coverage. It is also important to ensure that metal connectors on roof trusses or rafters and walls are connected properly.
And don't overlook the garage. Securing garage doors with the correct bracing --single-wide garage doors with a horizontal brace and for garage door panels, either vertical or horizontal bracing -- provides much needed protection for your garage.
Outside your home, survey the landscaping. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes recommends examining trees within close proximity to the house. If trees are diseased or damaged, they may have a weak root system and may not be able to withstand a windstorm. Some warning signs include mushrooms growing at the base of the tree, indicating decay, insect infestation, large cracks in the trunk or branches and dead limbs.
Consider the distance from the tree to the house, even with healthy trees. A tree's proximity to the home should be greater than the height of the full-grown tree.
Wind speeds fluctuate and often change directions during a storm, so make sure you are not enabling more damage to occur during the next high wind event. Loose items near the home such as lawn furniture, trash cans and other outdoor objects can wreak havoc, and pose a huge risk of injury, so put them away before a windstorm hits.
There's another bonus to preparing your home for high winter winds. While some wind-retrofit projects are not visible, cleaning up landscaping and installing quality roofing products can help provide protection for your home while adding to its curb appeal.
"Protecting your home doesn't mean you will have to sacrifice appearance," says Elliott. "Updating the roof can have a tremendous impact on the overall look of your home, while providing superior protection against wind."
A little forethought and a few modifications can help you keep those raging, wind-whipped scenes where they belong: in the movies. Courtesy of ARAcontent