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How to fortify your home against hurricanes
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- While no house is hurricane-proof, there are steps homeowners and builders can take to fortify structures and lessen storm damage. But what will such protection cost?
In hurricane-prone Florida, three experimental homes under construction in the St. Petersburg area -- each of them in a different price range -- will be used to answer that question.
The houses all were designed to withstand wind, water, fire -- features that can add thousands of dollars to a home's price tag.
Once the fortified-homes project is completed and final expenses are added up, communities considering tougher construction standards should have a better idea of what they can reasonably mandate -- and at what cost.
Builders, insurers and homebuyers are eager to know that, too.
Meanwhile, there are steps current homeowners can take on their own to fortify their houses.
The Florida Alliance For Safe Homes, a nonprofit organization partnered with insurance companies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and the Institute for Business and Home Safety, says preparing your home for a hurricane is as easy as A-B-C -- Anchor, Brace and Cover.
Bring inside anything from the yard that could become wind-borne. Ask neighbors to do the same.
Replace gravel or rock landscaping with fire-treated shredded bark to reduce damage.
Trim and anchor down foliage.
Make sure exterior walls of the house are anchored to the foundation.
Bolt all doors with foot and head bolts that extend at least one inch into the frame.
Reinforce the garage door and tracks with center supports.
Brace all gable and framing with horizontal and vertical beams.
Cover all large windows and doors -- especially patio doors -- with securely fastened, impact-resistant shutters. A more expensive option is to replace them with impact-resistant laminated windows and door systems.
Make sure all doors and windows are properly caulked or weather-stripped.
Install roof covering that is rated for hurricane-force winds.
CNN Miami Bureau Chief John Zarrella contributed to this report. One house appearing in video for this story belongs to Zarrella.
Hurricane-resistant homes under study
FLASH - Florida Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.