How to Prepare for a Hurricane
There are no guarantees when it comes to investing in hurricane preparation: if the wind hits your house just right, you could lose the entire structure. But that doesn’t mean you should put the welcome mat out for wind damage, and too many homeowners inadvertently do just that.
Neglecting basic maintenance increases the chance of losing your roof or having structural damage than a home that’s been kept up to date on maintenance.
Angie's List 10 Steps to Take Before the Storm Hits:.
- People and pets before property: The most important thing to do is to have a plan to keep your family and pets safe. If you don't have batteries and a portable radio, get one so you can be aware of weather alerts and other pertinent news. Establish a plan for your family members so they know where to go and what to do if the worst case scenario hits. Put together a contact list for family and friends, as well. Plan for at least three days of how you’d live without power and running water.
- Paperwork: Put any important documents (i.e. insurance policies, identification, passports, cash, credit card information, etc…) in a secure lockbox that you can get to. You could also put spare keys and valuable jewelry in there.
- Homework now will save you later: Do your research now to develop a list of contractors you'll want to contact after the storm has passed so you don't have to scramble afterward. This list should include: roofers, tree service, window repair, plumber, electricians, carpet or flooring experts, maybe a handyman or two.) Review your insurance coverage. Most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, so check that before you assume you’re covered for everything.
- Emergency kits: Set aside bottled water, nonperishable food and other supplies in an area you can get to in case you are without power for a while. Don’t forget the manual can opener, blankets, spare clothes, candles and matches. And don’t forget food and water for your pets.
- Home Inspection: Evaluate the strength and stability of your home before bad weather strikes. Look at the roof, hurricane straps if you have them, shutters, windows and doors, including your garage door. Look for things the wind can lift off or get through – loose shingles, doors without reinforcing bolts or kits – anything that seems vulnerable to wind. Hurricane shutters will protect your glass – if you don’t have them, plywood will do until you can get them installed. Consider hiring a professional to do this examination and to do the maintenance or improvements if you don’t have the expertise, time or tools.
- Tree patrol: Don’t forget to look up and around while you’re checking out your house. Trees cause a lot of damage, and trees with already dead or dying limbs can be hazardous. You may have time to get them taken care of ahead of the storm. Consider hiring a professional if you don’t have the expertise, time or tools.
- Safety measures: If you don’t already know how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your home, find out. If your home floods and power is still on, or if you detect a gas leak, leave the home immediately and call for emergency help.
- Windows: Tape or board up windows if you don’t have protective shutters. The tape won’t keep the glass from breaking, but it could keep it from shattering and sending glass through the air.
- Outside Stuff: Store outdoor furniture and other items like garbage cans, potted plants, tools and toys in a safe place like a garage or outbuilding.
- Vehicles: Fill up the gas tanks for all your vehicles ahead of time so you can get out in a hurry if need be. Park inside the garage, if you can, or as far from potentially falling trees and branches if you must park outside. Store your boat inside if you can. If you can’t, try to get it outside the path of the hurricane into different storage. Secure all mooring and ties, and consider placing old tires along the sides of the boat to reduce dock or piling damage. Don’t leave loose gear or items on the deck. If your boat is on a trailer, make sure it’s as secure as possible. Put blocks around the tires. Store the outboard motor, battery and electronics.