Ready Your Home for High Winds
Protecting your home against the effects of a hurricane may seem too daunting a task to undertake—there’s a reason the phrase “force of nature” has such resonance.
But, if you take a quick survey of your property, you’ll find a number of steps you can take to potentially minimize a storm’s impact, some simple, some more ambitious.
Here are a few ideas from the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on how to help prepare your home for a hurricane:
- Garage doors: Light, thin garage doors are especially susceptible to high winds. Once the door is gone, wind pressure can cause extensive damage to the rest of the house. Reinforce your doors with plywood or steel, or better yet replace them with wind-pressure-rated doors.
- Windows: Permanent storm shutters offer your best protection. Another option is to board up windows with 5/8-inch exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
- Roof: Secure it to your walls with galvanized steel hurricane clips, or use a caulking gun to lay down a small bead of premium flooring adhesive at the points where the roof meets structural supports.
- Doors: Double-entry doors are more susceptible than single entry to wind damage. Secure them with heavy-duty deadbolt locks at the top and bottom, and replace existing hinge attachment screws with longer screws that go deeper into the doors and frame.
- Trees and shrubs: Check for signs of damage and disease in your trees, and make sure trees and shrubs are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant. Select trees that are not prone to uprooting.
- Heavy indoor items: Affix bookcases, television stands, water heaters and other heavy items with brackets or straps that are firmly attached to wall studs.
- Rain gutters: Here’s an easy one. Maintain clear gutters and downspouts to help prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on your awnings.
- Lawn furniture, toys and tools: Store these items – trash cans, too – away from stairs and exits to prevent them from becoming dangerous airborne projectiles.
- Safe room: For maximum protection, consider preparing a safe room in your home, centrally located without windows. You can build one yourself, or buy one prefabricated. FEMA offers a free guide to creating safe rooms.
Finally, a few questions to address regarding your home insurance before a hurricane hits:
- Do I have a higher deductible for wind and hail damage?
- Am I comfortable paying that deductible if a hurricane hits?
- Do I need a separate flood insurance policy?
- Is my home inventory up to date and do I have adequate personal property coverage?
- Does my homeowners insurance cover temporary living expenses if I’m displaced from my home?
Your home insurance policy may offer coverage for hurricanes, but it’s worth your while to double check. If you’re uncertain, ask your local independent agent to review your policy and explain the details to you.
And, remember, no matter how well prepared you think you are, it’s important to follow evacuation orders during hurricane season. Be sure to grab your emergency kit before you go!
Article courtesy of Safeco Insurance.