How New Technology Can Help You Prepare for Hurricane Season
APRIL 4, 2023
Billion-dollar disasters are becoming more commonplace. Last year, extreme weather in the United States caused $165 billion in insured damages, with Hurricane Ian alone costing an estimated $50 billion to $65 billion.1 An early prediction about the upcoming 2023 hurricane season was released back in December by the agency Tropical Storm Risk, which expects 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Preparation is key to safely riding out these storms.
Communities Built to Withstand Storms
The Babcock Ranch community in Florida, located about 12 miles northeast of Fort Myers, is a true example of how implementing technology can significantly reduce damage caused by hurricanes.2 Power lines in Babcock Ranch run underground, so they are protected from high winds. Retaining ponds surround the development to protect houses from flooding, while streets are designed to absorb floodwaters and prevent homes from suffering flood damage.
Most Babcock Ranch residents chose to ride out Hurricane Ian when the Category 4 storm made landfall in September 2022. While Ian left the nearby Naples and Fort Myers areas devastated, Babcock Ranch only suffered superficial damages: a traffic light at the development's main entrance was missing, a few street signs had fallen on the ground, and some palm trees had toppled.
A number of companies are developing new technologies to better protect homes from extreme weather events.3
Marvel Architects in Puerto Rico designs eco-friendly homes to withstand a hurricane’s impact. The houses are built with reinforced walls and have solar panels connected to generators, so residents are not dependent on the power grid.
Tesla is helping homeowners combat extreme weather. While solar panels are not typically hurricane-resistant, the company has created solar roof panels that are built to better withstand high-powered winds like those that happen during a hurricane.
JD Composites uses nontraditional housing materials to help make homes more hurricane-proof, using recycled plastic soda bottles to construct the walls in the home. The company claims their homes can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.
Construction technology company ICON has built over two dozen hurricane-resistant buildings in the United States and Mexico. The company uses a large-scale 3D printer that pours layers of concrete-like material called Lavacrete. The machine is capable of building single-story, hurricane-resistant homes as large as 3,000 square feet.
The Dual Purpose of Spray Foam
Spray foam is traditionally used for roof insulation, but it can provide enhanced hurricane protection as well. Spray foam not only helps secure the roof to the internal building structure, but also simultaneously creates a second water barrier if the roof is blown off the home during a storm.4
Hurricane-Proofing Your Windows
Most homes have operable windows versus fixed windows, but operable windows allow greater water intrusion in the event of a storm. PVC-based pull-down shutter systems are now available. They require pre-storm deployment and cover the entire window opening, allowing significantly less water to penetrate around the window seals or other small openings. Another variation of this system is a flexible PVC-based panel shutter that must be installed on a home’s windows before a storm. Both types of PVC shutters offer better water resistance than standard metal or plywood shutters.4
A new window with an integrated “inside” shade system has been created to reduce the risk of water intrusion. The new design features a rigid frame, standard glass, and a built-in high-impact synthetic shade. These windows provide homeowners with the convenience of securing hurricane protection from inside the home. Once the shade is deployed, it locks into place — and if the window’s glass breaks during a storm, the shade is supposed to prevent wind, water and airborne debris from entering the home, even with repeated impact.4
Prior to a storm, make sure your cell phone is fully charged. If your home is damaged by a hurricane, you can use your phone to take photos and email claim details to your broker or insurance adjuster. Further, make sure you have downloaded the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app, which sends updates with local weather, news and advisories based on your location.
How USI Can Help
USI’s Personal Risk team is here to assist with all your risk management needs. For more information on hurricane preparedness, check out USI’s hurricane checklist. Keeping our clients informed about the latest hurricane technology is part of the services we offer. If you would like USI to generate a holistic, multi-pronged, personalized risk management strategy for you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 CNBC: “Hurricane Ian caused the second-largest insured loss on record after Hurricane Katrina”
2 National Public Radio: "One Florida community built to weather hurricanes endured Ian with barely a scratch"
3 The Hill: "These new technologies could make homes more resistant to hurricanes"
4 Hurricanes: Science and Society - "Current and Emerging Technologies of Hurricane Protection"
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