With Hurricane Season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about precautionary measures and preparations that will help you and your home throughout the duration of the season. The most effective line of defense against a hurricane is the preparation beforehand. This is especially true if you live in a region that is prone to be hit by hurricanes frequently. It is hard to discern the true level and prowess of a storm before it makes landfall, so it helps to be prepared for anything because it could all change at the drop of a dime.
If you find yourself in harm’s way either now or in the weeks to come, there are steps you must quickly take to help protect your property. The work you put in now to help protect and harden your home against the storm will help to improve your insurance coverage and make your family feel more secure this season and in years to follow.
STORM-GUARDING There are several steps you can take to fortify your home against the torrential rains and epic winds of a hurricane. Some of these are quite simple and can be taken care of on any given weekend. For example, clean out your gutters to help aid the transfer of water and to prevent any possible flooding or leaks. Make any repairs you see along the way as well. Having a plan and a location to move outdoor furnishings out of the wind and rain will help keep your possessions safe, dry and out of harm’s way. You might want to consider purchasing a generator if your area is likely to lose power or has lost power for large amounts of time in the past.
There are other preparations you can take, but they require a little more time and some elbow grease. They include:
Strap down the roof. The use of hurricane clips or straps will fasten your home’s roof to the frame of the house itself, reducing the chance of any major roof damage. Consult this Wind Retrofit Guide provided by FEMA for an extensive look and instructions on securing and retrofitting homes against hurricanes.
Put head & foot bolts on doors. Give your doors and entryways an extra layer of protection against the vicious winds by installing bolts at both the top and bottom of your entryways.
Install window covers & storm shutters. Commercially made storm shutters can be purchased and cut at your local hardware store. You also have the option of window covers that can be fit to individual windows. These covers are made from an exterior grade or marine plywood of 5/8” of an inch. To cover larger pieces of glass, such as a sliding glass door, use heavier and reinforced plywood.
Use caulk around doors & windows. As an extra level of protection, apply caulk in the crevices of your doors and windows. The wind-driven rains can cause moisture damage to your home even if the structure remains intact. Applying this to your doors and windows may also serve as a preventive to homeowners who live in areas that are prone to heavy rain year-round.
Protect your attached structures. Double check your porch, deck, carport, and sheds to make sure the structures are sound and firmly attached to their foundations. If you notice anything array or something that could be an issue, use time as an opportunity to remedy the situation now by contacting a professional contractor.
YARD Your garden, plants, trees and other landscaping items are also exposed to a hurricane’s wrath. Follow these steps to help protect your yard and landscaping:
Replace gravel with bark. When it comes time to replace your gravel paths or driveway, consider using bark instead of gravel. Windblown gravel can damage surrounding structures and glass nearby.
Trim trees & shrubs. Trimming the limbs of trees and bushes in your yard will help them to resist the high winds and reduce the chances of heavy damage from a fallen branch or limb.
Consult an arborist. If you are uncertain about the health and strength of some of the trees on your property, hire a professional to properly assess your trees. If the consultation results suggest the removal of any trees that are likely to come down during the storm, do so immediately. Crashing trees can severely damage nearby structures, your home and even your vehicle. Heed the advice of the arborist carefully and follow up on any recommendations.
Tie down small trees. Tying down small shrubs and trees will help prevent uprooting.
INSURANCE Home insurance policies can be confusing and can vary a great deal. Most homeowner’s insurance may or may not cover wind damage depending on the area you live in. If this turns out to be the case, you may want to consider purchasing a separate wind policy. Contact your insurance agent or broker to find out if your current insurance coverage is adequate.
Unfortunately, not all homeowner’s insurance policies cover flooding or even offer flood policies. In order to receive proper coverage, you should consider purchasing a separate, government-backed insurance. It may be available to you if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. You can check your communities status here.
If your home or property is in a flood zone, you are required to buy flood insurance. Even if you live outside of a designated flood zone, it is in your best interest to invest in insurance. We’ve all heard the story before, “It never floods in my neighborhood, but this time we had water up to our knees!” Rising water levels are hard to predetermine before a storm makes landfall. Don’t let yourself fall victim to chance and provide your home and family with the security of a flood insurance policy. If you have more questions or are interested in looking at flood zone maps to determine if your home or property is in a flood zone, visit FloodSmart.gov.