15 Crucial Ways to Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane
If you live on the coastline near a large body of water, then hurricanes are a major environmental concern for you. There are many steps needed to protect your home and family from serious harm during these storms. The idea of losing everything in one day is terrifying, but it’s something you need to prepare for.
What can you do to secure yourself against one of mother nature’s most dangerous storms?
Keeping your home prepared for a potential hurricane is something you should consider at all times. Here are a few steps you can take before the hurricane season starts.
1. Clean and Firmly Attach Gutters and Downspouts
It’s important that you make sure your gutters and downspouts are cleaned properly before a storm. Otherwise, they could become flooded and damage your house. Remove any blockages and debris from your gutters beforehand.
If you have any gutters that are coming off of your home or aren’t firmly attached, you should secure them to your home. This will prevent them from damaging your home’s exterior.
2. Cover Your Windows and Doors
Hurricanes bring a lot of forceful wind and rain, so it’s crucial that you brace your windows and doors. This will hopefully prevent water from getting inside through them or having glass projectiles flying around your home.
Making hurricane ready windows is simpler than it seems. You’ll need heavy-duty storm shutters to keep out the wind and rain, or some other strong brace to keep your windows secure.
You’ll want to give your doors a similar treatment to prevent them from flying off their hinges. This includes your garage door, too; without proper bracing, it may be blown away in a major storm.
If you’re in doubt about the quality of your window and door coverage, you can contact a professional for assistance.
3. Remove Large Tree Branches From Your Outdoor Space
Do you have any large trees or shrubs outside of your home? If so, you’ll want to remove any large branches that are more than 5 feet long. A hurricane is likely to dislodge any of these branches, which creates a potential hazard outside of your home.
Any branches that are within 10 feet of your home should also be trimmed. This is especially true for plants that are nearby windows or doors.
4. Bring Outdoor Decorations and Furniture Inside
Any furniture, decorations, or potted plants that you keep outside should be brought in at the first mention of a storm. Patio furniture can cause a lot of damage during a storm, especially if it’s launched against a window or door.
If you are unable to move furniture inside for whatever reason, make sure that it is properly secured to your patio. Any small items should be brought inside no matter what, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to secure them appropriately.
If there are any toys outside, you should make sure to take those in as well. Even a small toy can cause a lot of damage during a storm.
5. Prepare a Hurricane Supply Kit
Whether it’s hurricane season or not, you should always have a storm supply kit prepared just in case. In it, you should make sure to include the following:
- Plenty of bottled water
- Canned food and other non-perishables, preferably items that don’t need to be cooked since you may not have access to heating items
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Extra clothes for you and your family
- A first aid kit with anything your family or pets may need
- A radio and extra batteries
- Disposable dishes
Along with the items that you prepare, you’ll also want to have an evacuation plan in place. Include detailed instructions inside of the kit so that you won’t forget it. Make sure to include how to exit your home, what happens if your home becomes flooded, and how you will get out of town.
While you can include additional items in your storm kit, these are just a few examples that you may end up needing. For extra precautions, you can have a floatation device available near your planned exits if your home becomes flooded.
6. Turn Off and Unplug All Electronics When Evacuating
The moment the power goes out in your home, you should start unplugging all of your electronics. This will save you time if you end up needing to evacuate later.
Why should you bother unplugging your electronics? Water is extremely conductive, and electronics that are still active could send electric volts through the water. It can also cause damage to the electronics themselves.
This also means cutting off the power at your main circuit breaker, as well as the gas for any gas appliances in your home.
If you’re able to, try moving smaller electronic items to higher elevations to prevent damage, or place them on top of a table. If there isn’t enough time, then just leave them unplugged and leave.
7. Set Your Refridgerator to Its Lowest Setting
Keeping your fridge at its coldest setting will help in the case of a power outage. Even if the power does go out, the fridge should stay cold longer, keeping the food inside of it ok to eat. Your power may be out for a while, so the longer you can keep your food fresh, the better.
8. Have Your Insurance Documents Ready
Make sure all of your insurance documents for your home and more expensive belongings are in one easy-to-access location. If anything in your home becomes damaged, you’ll need these available if you want to reclaim your losses later.
Pay close attention to exactly what the insurance does and does not cover. Certain insurance companies won’t cover mildew or mold damage, which is likely after a hurricane.
You should also review your home insurance to see if floods or storms are covered by it. Should your insurance not cover storm-related damage, there are certain federal programs like FloodSmart that can cover your home and belongings.
9. Keep an Inventory List
Along with having all of your insurance documents ready, you should make a detailed list of all of the expensive items in your home, as well as anything with sentimental value. Keeping an inventory of all of your belongings will help you figure out if anything is missing later, which you may be able to get refunded for.
Along with the items, be sure to include their approximate worth as well. You should recheck your inventory list every year and rewrite it with any new items you’ve purchased, made, or received.
While not everything can be refunded, it’s best to include as much information as you can. Call your insurance agent after the storm is over to see if they can replace the items you’re missing.
10. Plan for Your Pets
When preparing for a storm, it’s important that you consider how you’re going to handle your pets during a hurricane. There is a chance that they may become caught up in the storm or lost.
To prevent losing your beloved pet, you have a few options. As hurricane season begins, reach out to different humane societies or pet hotels away from the coastline that could take in your pet for a while. That way, they’ll be out of harm’s way it the worst does happen.
You can also consider asking a friend or family member outside of town to hold onto your pet for a while until you’re sure you aren’t at risk. That way, you may be able to avoid spending money and your pet can stay with someone they already know.
If this isn’t an option for you, make sure you have a picture of your pet on hand and get your pet a microchip. That way, they’ll be easier to track down if they do become lost during the hurricane.
11. Consider Purchasing a Generator
You never know how long the power could be out during a hurricane, so you may want to consider getting a generator just in case. Make sure you do your research on what generator to buy, as well as any safety information so that you don’t end up with carbon monoxide poisoning or something similar.
You’ll also want plenty of gas at your disposal to keep your generator running. Try to have at least 5 gallons of gas available if you can for extended power outages.
12. Have Sandbags Available for Flooding
If you believe your home may become flooded during the storm, you’ll want to have plenty of sandbags available. When placed properly, sandbags can help to divert water away from your home; while it is not guaranteed to prevent flooding and flood damage, it can at least minimize your risk levels.
You can either purchase sandbags at most hardware stores or create your own using plastic bags. It’s then up to you to strategically place them to keep water out.
13. Move Your Furniture to Higher Ground
Once you know a storm is on its way, you should start trying to move any furniture in your home to a higher floor. If your home has more than one floor, great—try to get as much of your furniture up as possible. This will prevent any water damage that may occur should the lower level become flooded.
Prioritize important and expensive items first, especially anything with sentimental value. That will be much harder to replace later on should it become damaged. You should also concentrate on electronics since they can cause a hassle if not dealt with right away.
If you still have time after moving your important belongings, you can try moving some furniture up as well. Of course, if the storm is getting close or if you decide to evacuate, it’s better to leave things where they are.
14. Secure Your Roof
Water is most likely to enter your home through faulty spots in your roof, so it’s crucial that you give it a careful look and patch up any faulty shingles or tiles. Make sure to inspect the entire roof closely so that you can replace any damaged parts.
The intense wind from the hurricane is likely to cause damage to your roof during the storm as well. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent this other than a thorough inspection beforehand.
In some cases, a storm can rip off the entire attic of someone’s home. Check to make sure that your roof is attached by roof straps if you have attic space to avoid this type of catastrophe. There are plenty of companies that can attach roof straps to your home for a small fee.
15. Have a Secondary Living Space Arranged Ahead of Time
While having an evacuation plan in place is important, it’s also crucial that you work out where you will stay in the case of an evacuation. It may be weeks or months before you can return home, and even then, there may be too much damage for you to stay there for months after that.
One option you have is to arrange a visit with a friend or relative in case of a hurricane. If just one isn’t able to host you for the entire time, don’t worry—you can ask another and move from place to place until you’re able to return.
If that isn’t an option for you, you may need to consider a temporary stay in a motel or hotel if you can afford it. There are also shelters for those affected by storms that you can stay at if money is tight.
Make sure you plan everything out ahead of time, including backup plans if something falls through or your finances are running out. That way, you won’t be stuck wondering where you’re going to live.
Hurricane-Ready Homes Ahead
Hurricanes are terrifying forces of nature, but there are ways you can prepare yourself for them. Now that you have these tips under your belt, you’re ready to face hurricane season head-on!
What steps have you taken to prepare yourself and your home in the event of a hurricane?
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to leave a comment of your experiences down below, and continue reading our blog for more tips today!