Hurricane in the Forecast? How to Safeguard Your Home When You’re in the Path
The recent damage wrought by Dorian has hurricanes on everyone’s minds.
What if it were you? Do you know how you’d protect your home and loved ones from an oncoming storm?
Studies show that homeowners are woefully underprepared for natural disasters such as fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes like Dorian. In fact, only a mere 20% of Americans feel like they’re adequately prepared for one.
Do you want to make sure you know how to react if your home’s in the line of fire next time? Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Board up your windows. If you can, permanent storm shutters are your best option, but exterior wood planks can also work. Just be sure to cover the entire window from top to bottom on the exterior side.
- Bring in any loose furniture or heavy items in your yard. Move the patio furniture, swing set, and other yard decorations into the garage. In the high winds of a hurricane, these items can be extremely dangerous both to your property and those who live there.
- Secure any loose or broken fence boards. These can also become hazards when the winds start to pick up, so give your fence a good once-over and make any repairs necessary before the storm hits.
- Trim your trees. If you have heavy, low-hanging, or weak tree branches, remove them before they can get torn off by hurricane-level winds. Any branches hanging over your home, car, or other structures should also be removed.
- Shut every door in the house. Flying debris can travel fast, so shut every door and window located in your house. This gives you plenty of barriers and makes it harder from outside objects to reach you.
- Put your appliances and furniture on concrete bricks. You want to get them at least a few feet off the ground to prevent flooding damage. You should also remove rugs and loose floor coverings that could get wet and grow mold.
- Secure any loose structures. If you have a carport, shed, canopy, or other structure on your property, make sure it’s secured firmly to the ground. If you have to, add extra reinforcement or remove it from the property.
If you have a generator, make sure it’s set up, fueled, and ready to go in a safe, dry place. You should also test it to ensure it’s functioning properly.
Other ways to protect yourself during a hurricane
Of course, protecting your home is only one part of the process. You should also have a plan for how you’ll communicate with your loved ones in the storm and, if necessary, what you’ll do in the event of an evacuation.
Specifically, you should:
- Locate a radio and stock up on batteries. If the power goes out, you’ll need a radio to stay on top of news and local announcements. You don’t want to miss any evacuation orders, as the window to leave generally closes very quickly.
- Gas up your car as soon as you know about the storm. You don’t want to be stuck in lines or without fuel if an evacuation order hits. If you have multiple cars, make sure to gas all of them up. You might even want to add fuel to a riding lawn mower or jet-ski just in case.
- Have a detailed evacuation plan in place. Talk with your extended friends and family. Does someone have a place you could stay should you need to evacuate? Have at least two designated places you can go, as well as planned routes to get there. Print out maps in case cell service no longer works.
- Make sure your loved ones know the evacuation plan. Every family member needs to be clear on where you’re going and what you’ll do should an evacuation order come in. There should also be a plan in case you and your loved ones get separated. Designate a meeting place just in case.
- Give everyone their own communication device. Give everyone in the household some sort of communication device to stay in touch. It could be a disposable cell phone, a walkie talkie, or a full-blown smartphone. Whatever it is, make sure they know how to use it and how to keep it charged. You should also encourage everyone to text when possible, as phone lines tend to get clogged up during times of emergency.
Finally, you should double-check your insurance coverage to make sure your policy adequately protects you and your loved ones against losses. You’ll generally need to make changes at least 30 to 60 days in advance before they can take effect, so try to do this early in the year before hurricane season hits.