It’s important to prepare your home for the worst case scenario during hurricane season. There’s no way in which to make a home 100 percent hurricane proof, but you can do a number of things to give your home a fighting chance at weathering the storm.
It is essential to protect windows and there are many choices, including plywood, shutters and hurricane resistant windows.
Hurricane resistant windows are the gold-standard, providing continuous protection from wind borne debris. These windows are made from impact-resistant glass, meaning there’s no need to put shutters up. However, as they are expensive, for many they are cost prohibitive.
Storm shutters are the most popular option and provide good protection from wind borne debris. Accordion style shutters are a popular option. Fixed permanently either side of each window, they simply need to be shut once it is confirmed a storm is approaching. Panel shutters are more difficult to install as each one has to be put up individually, but are less expensive.
If you can’t stretch to professional shutters you can purchase pre-cut outdoor plywood boards for each window in your home. Install anchors in the plywood and pre-drill holes in the wood so you can put the boards up quickly when a storm is approaching. It’s recommended that you buy these in advance of hurricane season and store them in a dry place.
Check that you have all the necessary tools in advance to secure your hurricane shutters and do a test run before the start of hurricane season.
Consider having a builder or experienced engineer to check your roof and, if necessary, do any repairs. Consider hurricane straps, which anchor the wood frame of the roof to the walls. If you have a gable-end roof, make sure it is properly braced at the end. If it is not, then attach 2×4 or 2×6 planks to the gable ends at right angles to the truss system. Screws, not nails, should be used to attach the braces because they are harder to pull off.
Protect your valuable possessions by storing them in plastic containers and placing them on top of cabinets or items of furniture. You can also consider elevating items of furniture on bricks or stacking items on top of each other to save them from water damage should your house flood.
Make sure important documents, such as your passport, birth certificate, and marriage certificate are stored safely away in a watertight container, along with cash. Use plastic sheets to cover items such as large items of furniture, electronics, or anything that can be damaged by water. Make sure to unplug all electrical items.
Make sure the outside perimeter of your home is safe.
Bring inside pot plants, patio furniture, garbage cans, and any other items lying loose as these can become projectiles during a storm, causing damage to your home and others.
Knock down any coconuts from nearby trees and trim any trees that are likely to blow over onto your home.
Protect your home from storm surge as best you can to help prevent a large amount of damage. Use either silicone caulking or duct tape to seal up gaps in doors, especially at the bottom, to help prevent water from entering your home.
Cover up all outside electrical outlets and dryer vents with duct tape. Turn off the water to your toilet, flush it and remove any remaining water.
Place a sandbag in it to prevent storm surge and sewage entering the home. Fill the bath tub and sinks with water – this will come in handy post storm when supplies start to run low.
Ensure your insurance is up to date and make sure you know what you are covered for. Flood damage is not always covered by homeowners insurance.