April 24, 2020
We all know hurricanes can be devastating, so it’s important to prepare well in advance in case your home or property is ever in a hurricane’s path.
When is hurricane season?
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and the Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30—with September typically being the most active month for hurricanes. Potential threats and damages from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. Also, it’s important to note that hurricanes can happen along any U.S. coast, even affecting areas more than 100 miles inland. Disclosure 1
Preparing outside your home
- Roof: Before hurricane season, have your roof inspected to ensure that roof tiles, soffits, and flashing are in good shape and protected. Also, ask the inspector to verify that the entire roof’s structure is appropriately attached to the framing of your home, and rafters and trusses are properly connected to walls and foundations.
- Windows: The best way to protect your home from hurricane-force winds is to have hurricane-impact windows and doors installed, or cover all windows with code-approved impact-resistant storm shutters. Make sure these storm shutters are mounted to the wall surrounding the window and not to the window frame.
- Entry doors: The most vulnerable types of entry doors are double doors and French doors that open inward. Make sure you have hurricane-impact protection for these doors, and/or reinforced bolt kits to secure the top and bottom of double doors. If your doors are fairly old, it’s worth the investment to replace them with new ones that comply with today’s wind and impact codes.
- Garage doors: Unprotected garage doors are often the most vulnerable part of a home during a hurricane. If your garage door breaks apart, then hurricane-force winds can begin ripping through the interior of your home, even if you have storm shutters on the windows. Consider having an impact-rated garage door installed to protect your garage. Alternatively, prior to a storms arrival, you can protect your garage doors by bracing them with vertical 2-inch by 4-inch braces that are bolted to the garage door frame and attached to the concrete floor with an L bracket.
- Vehicles: Make sure all of your vehicles have a full tank of gas before a storm hits so you can be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice, if necessary. If you’re staying at home and weathering the storm, park your vehicles in the garage or pull them up as close as possible to the side of your home.
- Pool: Prior to an anticipated hurricane, drain about a foot of water from your pool to allow for heavy rains, and add more chlorine to help prevent contamination. Make sure to disconnect and protect the pool’s electric pump also.
- Gutters: It’s important to keep your gutters clean so that water can move away from your home and not cause additional damage to your roof.
- Outdoor furniture: Move any furniture from your yard or patio and store it somewhere in your house or garage. If some things can’t be moved, make sure to anchor any objects that can’t be brought inside. If these items aren’t moved inside or secured, hurricane winds can cause them to become projectiles that could damage your home.
- Watercraft: If you have any watercraft, whether it’s located at your home or elsewhere, make sure you have a plan for securing or moving the watercraft prior to a storm.
Preparing inside your home
- Secure important documents: Make sure important items like passports, bank account and credit card information, legal documents, insurance policies, etc., are secured in a place to protect them from water, such as in a safe.
- Protect your belongings: Minimize any damage to your personal possessions by keeping them away from doors and windows, where water may enter your home. As an extra precaution, elevate items off the floor, if possible.
- Make sure your generator is fueled up (if you have one): It’s also a good idea to test your generator to make sure it’s working properly. Don’t have a generator? Consider purchasing one in case you have to live without electricity for a few days.
- Create a storm emergency kit: This kit should include enough food, water, medications, and supplies to get your family through at least 72 hours without electricity. Also include a basic first aid kit, fully charged cell phone power banks, candles, several flashlights, and extra batteries.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting: This helps preserve your food by keeping it colder longer if the power goes out.
Reviewing your insurance coverage
An important part of preparing for hurricane season is reviewing your current insurance coverage with your agent. Get familiar with what your homeowners policy covers during a hurricane and know your deductible. Remember homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage that often follows hurricanes, so consider a flood insurance policy if you don’t already have one.
If you need to modify or expand any of your insurance coverage, now is the right time.
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Ready.gov, “Hurricanes,” published April 2, 2020; accessed April 9, 2020; https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes(opens in a new tab)
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