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Hurricane Survival 7-Point Checklist

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Photography courtesy of Antilles Helicopter Services

To find someone who relishes the subject of hurricanes would be rare; however, the topic is a reality in the BVI and one that must be addressed.

Fortunately, the area we’re situated in on the globe has seen less ‘action’ than some of our neighbours with 2010’s Hurricane Earl being a recent exception; the main positive in that affair was that damage to buildings was relatively light. The scarcity of hurricane impact is a strong allure for choosing the BVI as the location for your Caribbean property purchase in stark contrast to other islands that endure unpleasant conclusions during hurricane season. Nevertheless, it’s always prudent to be informed and so here are some facts about ‘hurricane vs BVI buildings’ amassed from architects and realtors over our VIPY publication tenure.

Any property buyer or individual constructing a new-build home would want to use this checklist with their employed professionals, just to be doubly safe.

  • Generally speaking, BVI buildings are constructed with structural engineers preparing for unfavourable scenarios, making the overall standard of BVI architectural construction sound
  • Despite the overused term ‘natural disaster’, the correct definition for a hurricane is ‘uncontrollable natural event.’ The ‘disaster’ part usually only befalls an individual if unprepared. This is where attention to rigid property design, quality materials, and perceptive professional construction are significant
  • Architectural strategy rooted in the minds of the experienced recognises that unpredictable wind forces are the unique component of a hurricane that provoke the most apprehension. The erratic direction of the wind impacts all faces of the building – in knowledge of this, the outer skin/envelope of the building must remain intact allowing wind to flow over and around it
  • One of the most common ill-conceived areas is the roof of a property. With the possibility of metal sheeting, tiles, or shingles being uprooted due to inappropriate fixings, these materials can then become potential airborne missiles. The integrity of the building, windows and doors are vulnerable to such issues
  • Walls and roof of the property are crucial in protection, but one cannot forget the foundations. The uplift force of hurricanes has been known to raise properties out of the ground
  • Solid windows and doors protection are imperative. If any of these openings are breached, the wind enters the building. Subsequently, the laws of physics take a miraculous turn causing a dramatic expansion in internal pressure with the usual result seeing the roof lifted and the walls pushed out. Thickly laminated impact-resistant glass is the recommendation here as well as heavy duty fabric sheet systems with stainless steel fastenings to cover openings, fix around verandas, and shield decks
  • Another unpleasant factor in hurricane season is torrential rain. This is where one needs to make certain that their property is air tight as water coming from all directions will seek a way in

Following this checklist with the property construction professionals you hire is a sure direction to peace of mind. Of course, the professionals should know these issues by default, but it’s useful to be clued up on these points as well.

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Erin Paviour-Smith

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