How to Prepare your House for a Hurricane

It’s easy to feel anxious during hurricane season, particularly if you live in an area prone to these menacing storms. Though modern technology has allowed meteorologists to accurately predict the storm patterns and paths that a hurricane may take, homeowners are never quite sure what to expect in terms of damage to their dwellings and property. Fortunately, there are measures that homeowners can take to prepare their home for a hurricane. The following suggestions will aid in the task of preparing for such an enormous storm.

Check the Perimeter of Your Home

It’s a good idea to check the outside area of your home at the onset of hurricane season. You will want to make sure that:

1. Gutters and downspouts are cleaned and clear of debris. This will allow them to handle the heavy volume of rainfall that will accompany the storm.

2. Outdoor lawn furniture and other items such as grills, hanging plants, bird feeders, garbage cans and other loose items are brought inside. Loose items in your yard can become projectiles and inflict damage in strong winds if they are not secure.

3. Portable sports equipment (such as outdoor basketball courts) should be stowed indoors or laid flat on the ground. Outdoor swing sets should be securely tied down.

4. Trim any trees or shrubs that may be close to your home or windows to prevent possible window breakage.

Consider Storm Shutters

Who hasn’t seen television coverage of homeowners rushing to the home improvement stores for plywood in an effort to board up windows prior to a hurricane? Not only is it stressful to try to erect window protection before a big storm hits, it is likely that materials may be in short supply. For this reason, if you live in an area that is typically active for hurricanes, consider investing in storm shutters. Many companies offer simple steel panels that can be installed by the homeowner quickly and easily in the event of approaching storms. These light-weight panels are slim which make storing easy, and they can be put up quickly allowing you to protect every window in your home.

A Word about Generators

A generator can be a tremendous asset to own in the event of a hurricane. Loss of electricity is a very real possibility with the arrival of a storm. Due to potential damage of community infrastructure you could be without power for days or even weeks. For homes with basement sump pumps, the loss of electricity will inevitably mean flooding to the basement. In some cases, damage can be substantial. A generator will allow you to potentially escape this type of basement flooding if you have it hooked up to your basement sump pump when the power goes out. A generator will also allow you to run other vital appliances, such as the refrigerator enabling your family to keep foods fresh and safe to eat. These two reasons alone are strong arguments for purchasing a generator and you can likely find a generator to suit your purposes and budget. That being said, the best time to purchase a generator is before hurricane season arrives. This is because home improvement stores are likely to run out of generators as soon as a storm is predicted for your area. Take your time to research, shop and find a generator that will truly suit your needs. You’ll be glad you did!

Fuel for Thought

Loss of power may mean the inability to cook food if you should happen to have electric kitchen appliances. Loss of power may also bring imminent food spoilage for items in your refrigerator and freezer. For this reason, prepare large coolers with ice and make sure the grill has enough propane or charcoal for food preparation.

If you have a generator, make sure you have spare fuel on hand to keep the generator running. Also make sure that your vehicle has a full tank of gas. This way you can avoid the long lines frequently found at the gas station in the event of an evacuation.

If You Have a Well

If your property relies on well water, make sure that you have a sufficient amount of water bottled in clean jugs, bathtubs or other storage containers. You will want to have ample clean drinking water available, as well as sufficient water for washing, cooking and cleaning. Loss of electricity will effectively shut off the ability to run faucets and flush toilets. For this reason, it makes good sense to store up a good supply of water before the storm hits.

Home Safety Tips

To make your home as safe as possible when riding out the storm, be sure that:

1. The sump pump is working properly.

2. Smoke alarms have sufficient batteries.

3. You have an ample supply of prescription medication that anyone in the family may be taking. (Flooding after the storm may prevent you from being able to travel to the pharmacy.)

4. Don’t forget your pets. Make sure they have an ample supply of pet food, water and any medications that they need.

5. Make sure that you have a sufficient supply of batteries and flashlights on hand. A weather radio and a sufficient stock of non-perishable food items are absolutely essential. For canned goods, have a durable manual can-opener available for use.

6. Cordless phones will not work in the event of a power outage; therefore make sure cell phones are  fully charged. If you have a corded phone, make sure it is plugged in. During a prolonged outage, it may be necessary to use an auto-adapter to recharge your cell phone.

7. Make sure that you know where your insurance paperwork is located and review your coverage thoroughly before the hurricane arrives. If you anticipate flooding to occur in your basement or in the lower level of your home, store valuable items in an area where they won’t be prone to water damage.

8. Finally, whether you decide to stay in your home or evacuate, be sure to let a trusted friend or relative know how they can reach you and what your plans are for the storm. 

Excessive rainfall, high winds, possible tornadoes and the resulting damage inflicted can be unsettling experiences for anyone who resides in a hurricane prone zone. Fortunately, staying abreast of storm developments and utilizing the proactive suggestions as outlined above, will go a long way toward protecting your family and property in the event of such a storm.