How to Prepare your Home for a Hurricane

Hurricanes are a separate breed of storm. There are times you will feel it was a waste of time as the storm suddenly dies down, or takes a turn during the night. Please be aware that any effort you put out in preparation for a hurricane will not be wasted energy or effort. In reality, if you start to prepare the protection of your home at the beginning of the hurricane season in June, then you will not be rushing around as the storm approaches. There are certain steps that cannot be done at the last minute, I should know, as I have lived in the path of many a storm for almost 45 years

Steps to take in June:

Take a very observant stroll around your house and yard. Are any large branches overhanging the roof? Do your palms have an abundance of dead fronds hanging? Perhaps that shrub is growing a bit too close to the eave of the house or the window.

It may be worth it to remove those overhanging branches. Branches can do enormous damage by just swinging back and forth. That shrub, especially if it has strong branches, could wear the paint off the house with the repeated swaying during the storm. The eaves could be damaged if the shrub rubs back and forth against them. Those palm fronds will scatter in all directions. Do not scalp the palm tree, as that is not good for the tree, just remove the dead fronds.

All the items mentioned above are things that should be done yearly. Getting them done in June – July at the latest – is good if you live in a hurricane zone, as the waste management will not be able to pick up any large piles of cut branches or shrubbery at the last moment. Debris left in a pile is just asking to be tossed in the storm, causing damage to your home and that of your neighbors.

Inventory of yard:

During that initial stroll around your yard, note the items that could take flight. Flower pots, hanging orchids, lawn furniture, and swing sets are among the items that need to be secured or moved when a storm comes. Make a list of what can be moved and where it could go. Decide how the other items should be secured in place.

Inventory of the home:

Yes, this is something that needs to be addressed, as afterwards will be too late. It is a good thing to do anyway, when it come to your home insurance policy. What items within the house do you have that are of value? This is a most critical point to remember. Take photographs of them, take a video of the inside rooms of your home. Judy Stark of the St. Petersburg Times states:

“The best way to document your claims is to do a home inventory: a master list of everything you own. You can prepare a written list; you can supplement it with photographs taken with a Polaroid or an instant camera; or you can create a video inventory.

Your written documentation – on paper, or on a computer disk – should include a brief description of each item, when you acquired it, a model number where applicable, and what you paid for it.”

If you have a safety deposit box in a bank, that the perfect place to keep them along with your policy. It is good to have a copy at home as well, as the information may be needed at a time when you are unable to get to a bank. A good fire and waterproof safe box in your home is just right for this.

Now to think about the physical protection of the home:

Shutters are a must, unless you have the impact resistant windows. Plywood may be used to make your own shutters. The wood can be mounted in several ways, depending on your type of window. All lumber and home supply places have detailed instructions as well as the accessories needed to attach the plywood. There are metal DIY shutters you can purchase. If you want shutters installed, this is definitely not a last minute job to line up. Supplies for all diminish rapidly when there is a storm coming your way.

Your garage door can be reinforced with a 2×4 or a purchased support that fits your size door. If a garage door gives, structural damage may occur.

Items to consider for purchase:

Generators are great if power is going to be out a long time, but there is never any way to know this. Also, you cannot just let a generator sit from one storm to the next. It has to be maintained several times during the year or you may be greatly disappointed when you go to start it and nothing happens.

The Mother Nature network has information about an emergency preparedness kit. This should be ready before the storm season starts.

“Pack an emergency preparedness kit that will meet the needs of you and your family for three days. The kit, of course, will be handy in the wake of any natural or man-made disaster. An emergency preparedness kit needs to include food and water for each member of your family for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, can opener, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation. A complete list of recommended items for an emergency kit can be found at, FEMA’s emergency preparedness website.”

Basic staples (non perishable food) can be purchased and placed in a special box or location in the pantry over a period of time, instead of having to search through empty grocery shelves to find whatever is left. When the hurricane season passes in November, and if your box is still there unused, there are many organizations that will welcome these non-perishable items to be shared with the unfortunate in your community.

Be safe and prepare. Doing it all in steps sure helps financially as well.