Debunking myths

Alarming and dangerous myths about storm preparation threaten individuals and homes. Here’s a reality check, courtesy of FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes:

MYTH: Masking tape or window film prevents damage and protects families.

FACT: Such materials will not protect windows from wind-borne debris. Some believe tape or film may help keep the glass from dispersing, but even this is questionable. For effective family and home 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 built of impact-resistant materials.

MYTH: Crack or open windows to let wind pressure inside the house equal the pressure outside and to prevent damage.

FACT: Opening windows to relieve pressure is a myth that has perpetuated for some time because of the way buildings appear to fail in high winds. Today, experts and wind scientists agree the most important thing to do is keep all windows and doors closed to prevent wind from entering and causing internal pressurization.

MYTH: Protect only windows and doors facing the ocean.

FACT: Wind can come from any direction or angle and may change direction quickly.

MYTH: Sandbags can prevent water from entering a home.

FACT: Sandbags can channel or direct water away from a home, provided they are properly filled and maintained. Fill sandbags only half full, tamp into place and limit placement to three layers.

MYTH: 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. Also, candles or other lit items such as barbecue grills can cause deadly carbon-monoxide poisoning if a home isn’t properly ventilated. Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns, and canned heat or propane cooking sources.