You don't get a lot of notice when a hurricane is about to blow through. The warnings may start coming a week in advance if it's a really severe and life-threatening storm, and only a few days in advance for milder ones. As the winds pick up, you don't have time to repair roofing damage or secure your roof against the coming wind and rain. That's something you need to do further in advance. When the weather is good, here are four things you can do to prepare your shingle roof and protect it from damage the next time a hurricane does roll in
Cement down your shingles.
Head to the local hardware store, and buy a tube or two of roofing cement. You can usually find it in long tubes similar to the ones caulk comes in. Some tubes may fit into a caulking gun, while others may be self-squeeze. Look for a color that will blend in with your roofing. For instance, if you have black shingles, you want to buy black cement.
Apply the roofing cement along the edges of the roof where the edges of shingles are exposed. This will help keep the wind from catching under these edges of the shingles and blowing them away. You should also check your shingles and make note of any that are loose or peeling up from the roof surface. Place a dab of roofing cement under each loose shingle, and press down on it to seal it.
Install hurricane clips.
Hurricane clips are braces that attach the roof deck to your home's main walls. They're actually pretty tough to apply without training, so your best bet is to call a local roofing company and have them apply the clips. Whether or not they will actually be able to apply the clips will depend on your home design, but when you live in a hurricane zone, there's a good chance building codes required your home to be built in such a way that hurricane clips could be fitted. What these prevent is the entire roof blowing off, which is a real possibility in a strong hurricane.
Glue down the flashing.
Flashing is the metal that you probably see around the edge of your chimney and sewer vents, along with in any valleys within your roof. This metal helps keep water from getting under your shingles, but only if it is in good shape and is well-sealed to the roof. If you notice any flashing that's beginning to peel, use a dab or roofing cement to hold it in shape. If you note any rust on the flashing or it's beginning to come un-riveted, contact your roofing company and have them replace it.
Trim back any trees.
One of the biggest sources of damage, even in milder hurricanes, is branches blowing onto the roof. Even if you roof is in perfect shape, a heavy branch landing on it can cause a major leak and thousands of dollars' worth of damage. Have a professional come trim all of your trees. Don't just do this yourself -- if you take off the wrong branches, you could weaken the tree and actually make the remaining branches more likely to break. If there are trees in your neighbors' yards, talk to them about the importance of having the trees trimmed back to prevent roof damage.
If you tackle the four tasks above on a nice weekend, your roof will be well protected the next time some not-so-nice weather blows your way. Check out sites like http://www.affordableroofingfl.net and talk to a local roofing contractor to learn more about proper roof maintenance and repair.