If you live in a coastal town or city, you’re probably familiar with the feelings of dread and anxiety that arise when hurricane landfall is forecast for your town. While nothing can alleviate all of the anxiousness, preparing your house (and yourself!) to the best of your ability can help you keep a level head whether you decide to ride out the storm or if you’re asked to evacuate. Below we’ve compiled a list of ten ways you can best keep your house, your belongings, and yourself safe during a hurricane.
1. Purchase flood insurance.
If you live in a coastal town that is frequently at-risk from hurricanes, one of the best things you can do to protect your investment in your home is purchasing a flood insurance policy. Flood insurance policies require 30 days to go into effect following the date of purchase, so it’s important to buy your policy well before a hurricane strikes. Policies must be renewed annually.
2. Make sure all windows and doors are tightly fitted to avoid water damage and flooding.
Since hurricanes bring stronger than usual wind gusts and rain, it’s important to make sure the entries of your home can stand up to the storm. Examine doors and windows; for anything that doesn’t close flush, you can add self-adhesive weather-stripping as necessary to assure a tight seal.
3. Take photos of your house and belongings before the storm comes.
In the event that you need to file a claim, the insurance company will need evidence of the damage sustained to your property. It’s standard to provide this evidence through photographs, and it’s wise to have photos of your property and belongings before the damage occurred as well as after in order to better support your claim.
4. Take inventory of your belongings.
While you’re taking the photographs, spare some time to take inventory of your belongings. Depending on the severity of the storm, decide what you would like to move to a higher level in the house or to take with you in case you need to evacuate.
5. Secure all loose items outside of your house.
While anything that can be moved inside for safety should be, this is not feasible for larger items like grills, play equipment, or some yard tools. Large items should be pushed against your house as close as possible to cut down on the wind’s ability to move it, and if possible, tie or weigh objects down.
6. Invest in sandbags.
Sandbags remain a common choice for flood prevention. When stacked two feet high, sandbag barriers are very effective at keeping water out during storm surge. Being quite heavy, they can also be used to secure items in your yard or used to hold shed or screen doors closed.
7. Trim trees and bushes on your property to reduce damage from falling limbs or flying debris.
To help prevent damage to your roof, siding, or windows, examine the trees and bushes on your property for loose or weakened branches. Any branches that seem particularly weak and prone to breaking off should be trimmed back.
8. Board up your windows.
Contrary to popular belief, taping your windows with masking or duct tape will not prevent them from breaking. If anything, it can alter the break pattern of your glass and make the shards larger or more dangerous. The only way to truly protect glass windows during a hurricane is to board them up. Storm shutters fit onto your windows and can be reused yearly, although plywood and nails will do just as well in a pinch.
9. Move your vehicles to higher ground.
It’s becoming more common in coastal cities to offer up multi-level public parking garages as a place for people to keep their cars if they fear flooding. This is a great way to reduce the risk of floodwaters damaging your vehicle, but for many people it is not a practical solution, if it’s an option at all. To reduce the risk of damage, you should, at the very least, move your vehicles off the road (where water accumulates most thanks to public drain systems), and ideally onto a driveway with a little elevation.
10. Keep important documents in gallon plastic storage bags.
Having all your necessary documentation in one place could come in handy in the days following a hurricane. Into a few gallon bags, put your proof of flood insurance, photo IDs, birth certificates, social security cards, and proof of health insurance. Label the bag clearly and return the documents to their usual storage as soon as you can.
Southern Trust Mortgage wishes you a safe hurricane season!