Mid-August typically marks the start of the peak hurricane season, which will last through to late October. So if you live somewhere that is likely to be hit by a hurricane, now is the best time to start getting ready. Whether you’ve already compiled a to-do list, or you’re just getting started, here’s how you can prepare your home and weather the storm.
Review Your Insurance
Standard homeowners insurance will protect you against weather-related damage such as wind, hail or lightning, but not against flood damage. Take a moment to talk to your agent about upgrading your insurance to include flood coverage. Also, make a list of all your belongings, both inside and outside your house, which will allow your insurance company to determine what will need to be covered in case it is damaged or destroyed.
Protect Your Windows
By default, all windows should be kept closed during a hurricane. But before the storms hit, make sure that they are protected against potential damage. Inspect each of them and reapply sealant if necessary. Install impact resistant shutters, or consider replacing your normal windows with storm-proof glass. If time or budget does not allow for these upgrades, you can also use plywood shutters.
Inspect the Roof
A sturdy roof can prevent weather damage to your home during a hurricane, so make sure yours is fit for the job. Check for any loose shingles and replace them accordingly. Clean any leaves or debris from the gutters, to prevent damage during heavy rains. Depending on where you live, you may be required to install roof straps, to increase the sturdiness of your roof.
Trim the Trees Close to the House
If you have large trees in your garden that are more than ten feet from your house, consider cutting some of the larger branches. This is particularly important if you have an old tree in your yard, or trees that are brittle, such as poplars, maples, or cottonwood. Hurricane winds can easily exceed 150 mph, which can break down branches, damaging windows and even the roof in the process.
Check for Leaks
No home is fully waterproof, yet you can minimize the chances of water entering your house by fixing any leaks in advance. Pay close attention to holes, cracks in the wall, and even places where pipes and electrical cables enter your home from the outside. Apply a sealant where needed, and don’t forget to check your basement and attic as well.
Safely Store Your Valuables
Try to waterproof as many of your valuable items as possible, whether they’re important documents, appliances, or even clothes and linens, using plastic bags or sheets. Take down large wall-mounted items, such as TVs and paintings, and if you have a spare room with no windows, consider using it as a temporary storage. If you’re in a pinch for space, even placing them on elevated surfaces, such as tables and counters, can keep them safe if water finds its way into your house.
Unplug Your Appliances
Even if you have surge protection in place, it’s ideal to unplug your electronic devices and appliances if your home is hit by a power cut. This way, there’s no danger of them being damaged by a power surge when electricity is restored.
Clear the Items in Your Yard
During high speed winds, any item that can be lifted off the ground can become a dangerous projectile, dealing damage to either your home, or your neighbors’. To prevent this and ensure that nothing gets lost during the storm, clear out any items you have in your yard, whether it’s flower pots, your grill, patio chairs, and even trampolines.
Prepare a Hurricane Kit
Last but not least, don’t forget about yourself and your loved ones. Put together an emergency kit that should include three days worth of drinking water, non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, a flashlight, as well as any important documents you might need. If the space allows it, you can also include a set of spare clothes. Here’s to hoping you won’t have to use the kit, but in the meantime, it’s always best to be prepared.