10 Ways to Hurricane Proof Your Home... and Your Life
Hurricanes are scary business; but there are ways we can protect our homes and ourselves from some of the damage they cause. These 10 tips will help you create a more hurricane proof home so you can be better prepared. Keep in mind, the majority of these have to be considered well before a hurricane appears on the radar.
1. Be prepared. Dave Baxter, owner of Baxter Restoration, says, “being prepared is most important way to stay safe through a hurricane. Having everything in order ahead of time will help you stay calm in the face of disaster. Put together an emergency kit and keep on hand at least a three day supply of food and water for you, your family, and your pets”.
2. Review and update your insurance. Contact your insurance agent and make sure you have enough coverage to repair or rebuild your home. If you made any home improvements recently, check to see that your insurance covers these upgrades. Inventory the contents of your home also and get your belongings covered. While you have your insurance agent on the phone, don’t forget to ask about purchasing flood insurance. Your homeowner’s insurance may not cover most flood damage.
3. Reinforce windows and glass doors. Hurricane force winds can send trash cans, branches, and debris flying through your windows and into your home. Not only will a broken window allow wind and water in; but will create upward pressure on the roof, potentially forcing it off. Make sure your windows and sliding glass doors are reinforced to hold up against strong winds. You can have impact resistant glass windows installed, purchase hurricane shutters, or do it yourself. Once a hurricane arrives, you won’t have time to run out to the store and buy materials. Have these pre-made and be ready to quickly install them when necessary!
4. Reinforce your garage door. Your garage door is a giant weak spot on your home. You can purchase or make metal or aluminum hurricane panels that attach to the outside of your garage in a similar fashion as hurricane shutters on your windows. You can also buy garage door braces which attach to each hinge on the door. These two ideas are great; but they also require you putting them up when news of a hurricane comes. Although a bit more expensive, you can have a wind-rated garage door installed and be worry free.
5. Trim your trees. Scan the trees in your yard and remove and dispose of all dead and damaged branches. Doing this will help the wind to flow freely through the trees and stop weak branches from being pulled off by hurricane force winds and potentially damaging your home or car
6. Secure and clean your gutters. When a hurricane comes, it brings water. That water has to go somewhere - preferably off your roof and onto the ground. When you (or a professional) are up there clearing the gutters of debris, check to see if any sections are loose and need to be resecured.
7. Secure loose roof shingles. Keep an eye on your roof. If it’s over 20 years old, it probably needs to be replaced. If it still looks in good shape, regularly check for loose or damaged shingles and replace them if needed. It’s a good idea to have a professional come out and check your roof annually because if shingles begin to peel off during a hurricane, water and wind could get into your home.
8. Turn everything off. Except your refrigerator. Unplug appliances, TVs, satellite dishes, pool pumps, etc., and turn off your heat/ac system. Your refrigerator should be left plugged in and turned down to the coldest temperature. This way your food will stay colder for longer if the power does go out.
9. Clear your outdoor area. Anything left outside during a hurricane may turn into a projectile. Trash cans, outdoor lawn furniture, decorations, and anything else not tied down should be brought inside.
10. Get a generator. During a hurricane, it is likely your power will go out. You might consider purchasing or renting a generator that could power your whole house. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, get a small one to power your essentials in the meantime. Be aware that generators can be very noisy, so be careful if you live in an apartment building or have close neighbors.
Preparing your house for a hurricane is crucial; but it isn’t always enough. Remember, if authorities tell you to evacuate, do it! Have a bag packed and ready to go in case you have to leave. Make an evacuation plan with your family and make sure your car has a full tank of gas.