If you live in a coastal state, you’re already well aware of hurricane season. Hurricane season officially falls between June 1 and November 30 on the Atlantic Coast and May 15 and November 30 on the Eastern Pacific.
Hurricanes are large storms that form over the ocean before they make their way toward land. The weather they bring with them can include heavy rainfall, strong winds, flooding, tornadoes, and more. Aside from the basic ways to prepare yourself for a hurricane—such as knowing evacuation routes and signing up for local weather alerts on your smartphone—you should get your home ready to withstand any potential damage, too.
Hurricane preparedness may seem like a near-impossible task; hurricanes are major natural disasters that have caused property damage, injuries, and even death. You can, however, follow these six steps to make your home as strong and safe as possible in the face of an impending storm.
Prepping Your Home For Hurricanes
1. Create a hurricane kit.
Depending on where you live, an impending hurricane won’t require you to evacuate, but it might still have a big effect on the local weather. High winds and rain can knock out your power or cut your access to water, for example. Therefore, you should put together a hurricane kit before the season begins, just in case you’re stripped of some of the comforts of home.
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FEMA suggests you stock up on bottled water—one gallon per person in your household, per day, for at least three days. Flashlights, a crank radio, prescription medication, matches, feminine hygiene products, pet food, and diapers should also be included, depending on your family’s needs.
2. Re-evaluate your home insurance.
Living in a hurricane-prone area means you probably already have insurance on your property. Most policies cover the value of the home by itself, but a really bad storm might mean you have to rebuild your property from the ground up—this will cost much more than your insurance policy covers.
So, each year, speak to your insurance agent and re-negotiate the value of your policy to cover this cost. Also, ask your agent if you should add protections like flood insurance on top of your existing policy. That way, you can rest assured, even in a worst-case scenario situation, that your home will never be completely lost.
3. Use surge protectors.
Power regularly goes off during bad storms, but it can also turn back on with a huge surge. This surge can damage or completely destroy any electronics and appliances you have plugged in. To avoid this situation, install a surge protector into your electrical panel, and use surge-protecting power strips instead of wall sockets. Make sure your heating and air conditioning unit has its own surge protection—or install one there, too.
4. Install a hurricane garage door.
Your home is likely built of brick, stone, or a similarly strong material that can withstand hurricane-level wind and rain. One piece of its exterior that might need a little extra help is the garage door.
You can add a hurricane-rated garage door to protect your house with benefits beyond hurricane season, too. These special garage doors are built to withstand weather year-round. This durability makes them long-lasting and low-maintenance, to boot. In other words, it’s worth the investment of installing a new garage door if you know it’ll stand up for a year’s worth of weather.
5. Seal and secure the roof.
Along with your exterior walls and garage door, your roof completes your home’s first line of defense against stormy weather. As such, you should make sure it’s secure and sealed before hurricanes start rolling in. A simple inspection of your roof will help you find shingles that have cracked or completely fallen off. Replace them prior to storms, and consider extra protection, like roof straps, which connect your roof to your home’s frame with metal straps.
6. Clear branches, trees, and debris.
High winds and heavy rains can equal disaster if trees surround your home. Trim any branches that hang too close to your home. And if it appears as though a tree within falling distance might be too weak to withstand hurricane-level weather, remove it. Hiring an arborist to come out and inspect your trees can help you decide which ones can stay and which ones should go so they don’t fall on and damage your home.
Similarly, be sure to put away or tie down any other loose items in your yard. Furniture, toys, bird baths, lawnmowers—anything that could be moved by the wind and rain—should be put inside a protective shelter, so it doesn’t become a damaging element during a storm.
By putting these six tips into action, your home will be much stronger in the face of a hurricane. The most important way to protect yourself and your family is to listen to weather and evacuation warnings and to act accordingly. With your home protected and insured, you don’t have to worry about anything but your personal safety, which is the most important thing in the midst of a massive storm.
How do you prepare your properties for hurricane weather? Let us know below!
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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.