Another hurricane season is fast approaching, so it’s time to start thinking about preparing your home for a hurricane, just in case. Since your home is probably the most significant investment you will make in your lifetime, it just makes sense to plan ahead. The official start date of hurricane season is June 1, and it runs through November 30, with September and October being the peak. That’s a pretty big window, and it only takes one storm to do some serious damage. Here’s your checklist of things to do right now, before the rain starts pounding down and the winds begin to howl.
Strengthen Your Garage Door
The thing about garage doors is that they tend to blow in during hurricane force winds. If there’s an attic above your garage, your garage door could blow up and actually tear your house to pieces. Thankfully, there is a relatively easy way to reinforce it. A vertical garage door brace and horizontal wooden beams should give it enough strength to keep it from blowing in during a storm.
Clean Up Your Lawn
Things like lawn furniture, grills, and other loose items can quite literally turn into missiles during a hurricane. If you can secure these items to the ground at the beginning of hurricane season, now’s the time to do it. If not, keep an eye on the forecast and bring them indoors before a storm approaches.
Seal Up Any Holes in Your Home’s Exterior
Walk around the perimeter of your home and look for places where wires or pipes enter through a hole in the wall. Caulking becomes dry and crumbly over time, so you’ll want to inspect each hole carefully to make sure it’s still sealed. Replace or add caulking where needed to prevent water from entering during a storm.
Inspect Your Windows and Doors
You should also inspect the seals around every window and exterior door on your home. Heat can damage the seals over time, which can allow rain to blow in during a storm. Replace any damaged seals with weather stripping or caulking where appropriate.
Reinforce Carports and Porches
High winds can tear carports and porches right off the side of your house during a storm, leaving a gaping hole where water and wind can get in. All of the posts that support your carport, porch, or other outdoor structures must be firmly anchored to the ground and attached to the side of your home before hurricane season starts.
Roof Straps Are Essential
Most newer homes built in hurricane-prone areas will already have metal roof straps that attach the roof and the walls together to hold the roof in place during a storm. If your home does not, they should be added right away. If you have attic access to your roof, having metal roof straps installed is quite affordable. It’s a small price to pay to keep your roof from blowing off!
Inspect Your Roof
If your roof fails, the damage to your home may not even be repairable. Wind and water entering through such a large opening will cause astronomical damage. Now’s the time to inspect your roof and repair or replace any missing or loose shingles or tiles. If any of them are cracked, replace them. If you’ll be reroofing this season, consider having the roof deck sealed by either covering the entire roof with a waterproof membrane or adding special waterproofing tape over the seams. It will cost you a few extra bucks, but it’s well worth the investment if it prevents your home from receiving water damage.
Review Your Current Insurance Policies
Sit down at least once a year and review your current homeowner’s insurance policy. Make sure it will cover the expense of rebuilding your home if it is destroyed by a storm. Building costs go up every year, so you need to make sure you’ll have enough money to rebuild.
Inventory Your Property
You should inventory your belongings each year. Make a note of all your possession, how much each item is worth, and what it would cost to replace it. Document each item and review your insurance policies so that you know what items are covered. You may need to add coverage for valuable items.
Get Flood Insurance
Your homeowner’s insurance probably doesn’t cover flood damage so you may want to consider getting a separate flood insurance policy. Sadly, many people lose their homes to flooding after a hurricane, and if you’re not insured, you’re out of luck.
Clean Out Your Gutters and Trim Trees
Rain comes down by the bucketload during a storm, so be sure your gutters are cleaned out periodically throughout the season. Your trees should also be trimmed so that there aren’t any branches hanging over the roof. Dead or dying branches or trees should be removed so that they don’t become a hazard during a storm.
Be Prepared to Evacuate
Once your storm shutters are up, and you’ve done everything you can to prepare your home for a hurricane, accept the fact that you may need to evacuate if a storm is coming your way. Don’t put your life, or your family’s lives, in danger by trying to ride it out on the pretense of protecting your property. Have an evacuation plan in place and be ready to follow through with it when the time comes. Don’t forget to have a plan for your pets, too.
Assemble a Hurricane Kit
Storms can change direction quickly and often without much notice. In the event that you don’t have enough time to evacuate before a storm hits, you need to have a hurricane kit ready to go. Essential items to include are:
- Battery operated radio
- Flashlights, lanterns, and extra batteries
- Non-perishable food and a way to cook it, such as a propane grill
- Bottled water (You can’t have too much!)
- Pet food
- Fill up your gas tank and fuel up your generator
- Important documents
- Extra cash
Taking the time to prepare for hurricane season now could save your home, and possibly even your life. Be sure to watch national and local news stations carefully so that you have as much notice as possible when a hurricane warning or watch is issued. It’s much better to be prepared and not need it than it is to not prepare and lose everything in a deadly storm!