'Hurricane House' in Fort Pierce offers guidance on how to protect home and family from storms

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - The "Hurricane House" looks like a typical home on the outside. But inside, plywood and and a safe room replace picture frames and bedrooms.
 
"Screwdriver, in case you run out of electricity in your drill." says Karla Lenfesty, as she pulls the tool out of a toolbox inside the "Hurricane House."

Lenfesty is a University of Florida consumer sciences agent and my tour guide.
 
The house on Picos Road in Fort Pierce is one of four centers of its kind throughout Florida. The University of Florida Extension faculty aims to teach people how to enhance the wind resistance of their homes.

It's a good place to check out before storm-proofing your home. Lenfesty says making storm plans and following through is the most important part.
 
"Preparedness is survival," she says.

Lenfesty says all shutters that are Florida Building Code or Miami-Dade-approved have been missile tested.
 
"So, they're all just as secure as one another. It's just a matter of cost and a matter of putting them up," said Lenfesty.

She says, make sure all the parts are there and the panels are numbered. Also, allow enough time to put them up, ahead of a storm. Lenfesty says if you wouldn't feel safe in your house during a Category 1 hurricane, you want to take shelter elsewhere.

"If you're in a mobile home or a really old home and it didn't weather well before, you don't want to stay there," she said.

Lenfesty says deciding where you're going to hunker down ahead of time is crucial.

One option the "Hurricane House" features is a safe room that Lenfesty says protects against both hurricanes and tornadoes. The room is made out of 1/4 inch of steel, and it's stocked with items like a head lamp, a flashlight and non-perishable food.

Lenfesty recommends keeping a go-to box with important tools and instructions and making three plans for before, after and during the storm.

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