7 Ways to Prepare your Home for Hurricane Season
To many Atlantic and Gulf states, the six-month period from June to November is better known as “hurricane season.” And while Florida, Louisiana and other southern states are often perceived as those that are the most in danger of a hurricane making landfall, the American public has to look no further than to last October’s Hurricane Sandy to see the devastation that hurricanes can do to northern Atlantic states as well. According to Boston.com, the fall hurricane, which devastated Long Island, flooded New York City subways and tore apart the Jersey Shore, was responsible for some $50 billion worth of damages, not to mention the loss of 159 lives.
It’s not a matter of whether or not a storm as powerful as Hurricane Sandy will hit the U.S. again, but when it will hit again. If you ask the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it could be soon. Yes, the NOAA reports that the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is projected to generate 13-20 named storms, up to six of which could become major hurricanes.
But you shouldn’t be afraid of the next big storm. No, instead you should be prepared. Here’s a look at 7 hurricane preparedness tips to help you prepare your home for hurricane season. This way, you can potentially minimize damage to your property even before a hurricane forms or makes landfall in your area.
Window Coverings: According to FEMA, the best way to protect your windows is via permanent storm shutters, which can be simply rolled into place prior to a hurricane making landfall. However, storm shutters are expensive to install, and some feel the high price often isn’t justified by homeowners considering that they may only be used a few times every decade or so. In terms of actual hurricane preparedness, a viable backup plan is a piece 5/8-inch marine plywood, which can typically be purchased from hardware stores and nailed over windows when a hurricane watch is in effect. The plywood should be cut to the sizes of your home’s windows in advance, as it can be stored easily, making it easy to nail up when the time is right.
Roof Latches: The most powerful hurricanes can generate winds well over 100 mph, which results in many roofs being taken right off of the home. To prevent this from happening, install roof latches or clips. These work to better secure your roof to the home’s structure, thereby making it able to better sustain the high winds which can be generated by hurricanes.
Reinforced Garages: If winds enter your garage, they can create a ton of pressure in the confined space and literally pop the garage roof right off of your property. That’s why you should make sure that your garage door is reinforced to the point where it’s next to impossible for winds to enter. Make sure that your garage door is in good shape and that it closes securely.
Gutters: Cleaning your gutter regularly is arguably the easiest hurricane preparedness tip; however, it’s often one that’s most easily neglected. This should be done twice a year regardless of hurricane projections, because hurricanes and storms of all sizes have the potential to drop heavy rain on an area. If your gutters are clogged, that rainwater is going to overflow and fall around the sides of your house. This can cause a lot of damage to your property, potentially allowing water to easily enter your home. As if that isn’t a big enough problem already, wherever there’s moisture, there’s also the potential for mold to grow. So not only can clogged gutters lead to a water damage issue, but you also might get a nasty mold infestation.
Add a Safe Room: Safe rooms are becoming a popular form of hurricane preparedness in areas prone to dangerous storms. These rooms are typically made from steel or other high-strength metals and provide a place where you and your family can go when dangerous storms strike. Being that safe rooms are designed to be relatively indestructible, you can wait out the storm there without worrying about your personal safety. Safe rooms are available in all different sizes and can comfortably fit a house full of people. When not in use, safe rooms can double as “man caves,” theater rooms, workout rooms, and recreation rooms.
Upgrade Your Doors: If your home has inward-swinging doors – especially French doors or double doors – consider adding extra dead bolts to keep them from buckling. Just as in the garage door example noted above, you want to prevent any winds from entering your home, as they can create pressure which won’t only damage your household items but cause a lot of structural damage. So make sure your doors are in good working condition and that you have enough slide and dead bolts in place so that they don’t risk breaking in high winds.
Landscaping: The more tree branches and overgrown landscaping you have in your yard, the more plants and debris you have that could damage your home in high winds during a hurricane. So make sure your shrubs are trimmed, tree branches are cut, and that your yard is picked up accordingly. Do this once in the spring and again in the fall.
Hurricanes are powerful forces of nature, as we’ve seen several of them deal lots of damage in the past decade. But while people may fear their strength and power, the best way to handle them for each and every hurricane season is to be prepared as best as possible. Proper hurricane preparedness could be the key to saving your home.
Hurricane Ike image courtesy of Core Burn.
Cleaning Gutters image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region.