How to Protect Home and Family This Hurricane Season
- How to Protect Home and Family This Hurricane Season
When a hurricane or tropical storm is in the weather forecast, homeowners must take time to prepare their homes and yards to help reduce the potential for serious property damage and injury.
Residents that live in hurricane-prone regions in the Texas Gulf region should protect their homes from storm damage using some basic items that will not only save a home during a hurricane, but these measures can also result in significant savings on homeowner insurance.
For anyone who lives in a hurricane-prone region, the following items should be purchased for the home to limit damage from a hurricane.
Preparing the Home for a Hurricane
When a hurricane or tropical storm is in the forecast, homeowners should put up storm shutters or hurricane fabric panels over the home’s windows and doors. If storm shutters or hurricane fabric panels are not available, plywood can be used to cover windows and doors, providing some protection from flying debris.
The home should be stocked with two weeks worth of food, water, and storm supplies for humans and pets. If the residents have an emergency generator, a stockpile of gasoline will be necessary to fuel the generator.
Anyone with a well must remember that without electricity, the well pump is not going to work, so appropriate supplies of water will also need to be kept on hand.
For coastal homes and homes that are located in an area that’s prone to flooding, all electronics, chemicals, and other valuables should be moved to a higher location either within the home or at a storage unit or friend’s/family member’s home that’s situated outside of the region.
Prepare Screened-In Porches and Pool Cages for Hurricanes
All porch and patio furniture must be brought indoors when a hurricane is going to strike; otherwise, strong winds will turn patio furniture into flying projectiles that can cause serious damage to nearby homes. Fan blades should be removed from outdoor fixtures and all decorations should be brought inside.
Pools should be left uncovered. Pool owners may be tempted to cover the pool to keep out debris, but the high winds of a hurricane or tropical storm are apt to send the pool cover flying in the middle of the storm.
When a category four or five hurricanes is predicted, homeowners should use a razor to cut the screens on porches and pool cages. The screening is apt to tear during the storm anyways, and leaving screens in place can actually result in serious damage to pool cages and aluminum porch framing.
Porch and pool cage screening — especially very fine screening that’s designed to keep out the tiniest of insects like “no-see-’ems” — provides a surprising amount of wind resistance. When faced with the high winds of a category four or five hurricane, aluminum porch, and pool cage frames have been known to warp and even collapse due to the extra wind resistance that’s created by the screening. In short, it’s less expensive to replace the screening than it is to replace the entire pool cage or porch screen frame.
Tropical Storm and Hurricane Preparations for the Yard
Pruning is essential to prevent serious damage to landscaping during a hurricane or tropical storm. Thinning trees, bushes and shrubs is vital to prevent breakage as a result of high winds; the winds will be able to move through the plant with greater ease once the plant has been thinned.
Tree branches that overhang the home should be cut back to prevent damage from a tree limb landing on the house. Branches located near electrical or phone lines should also be removed.
All objects should be brought indoors. This includes toys, swing sets, mailboxes, lawn and garden decorations, gardening tools, birdbaths, dog houses, wind chimes, satellite dishes, trampolines, garbage cans and any other items that could potentially turn into a flying projectile during the storm.
Stockade fencing is especially prone to collapse during a hurricane or tropical storm; removing every third panel can reduce wind resistance and improve the fence’s chances of surviving the storm.
And finally, before a major hurricane or tropical storm strikes, homeowners should take time to document the condition of their property. Photographs or videos of the property (inside the home, outside the home, and the surrounding yard) can be invaluable when the time comes to file insurance claims.
Storm shutters are essential for any home in Florida, Georgia, or the gulf coast states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Storm shutters come in several styles. The most common type of hurricane shutter is made of steel panels which, when installed, look like a metal accordion. These steel panels cover the home’s windows and doors by attaching screws or brackets that are mounted around the window or door frame.
A more expensive storm shutter option involves automatic storm shutters, made of metal accordion panels that come down over the home’s windows at the touch of a button. Though expensive, these automatic hurricane shutters are ideal for the elderly and anyone else who can’t physically put the storm shutters in place.
Hurricane Fabric to Protect Homes During a Hurricane
Many homeowners are opting for hurricane fabric panels as an alternative to protect windows and entryways. Hurricane fabric panels are made of kevlar, a bullet-proof fabric. Like storm shutters, hurricane fabric panels are affixed over the home’s windows and doors.
Hurricane fabric is an expensive yet practical option to protect entryways and some screened-in porches. This means that residents will save time when preparing for a hurricane because they will not have to bring in porch furniture and decorations since the hurricane fabric panels will protect the area from wind and flying debris.
Hurricane Glass for Houses in Storm-Prone Regions
Hurricane glass is another expensive yet convenient option for residents living in hurricane-prone areas. Hurricane glass is created in a way that’s similar to a car windshield: plastic or composites are sandwiched between layers of glass, making the glass virtually impenetrable and invulnerable to flying objects.
Hurricane glass is ideal for use as glass door panels, in particular, making the door less vulnerable to break-ins as well.
Hurricane glass isn’t damage-proof, but it will prevent flying objects from penetrating the window. A home that’s equipped with hurricane glass can usually leave the windows and doors uncovered during a more minor storm, though even hurricane glass windows should be covered during a more severe category 4 or 5 hurricane.
Hurricane glasses are rated for various wind speeds and different impact forces; this will determine what category of hurricane, the glass can withstand if left uncovered.
Garage Door Braces Protect Homes During Hurricanes
A home’s garage door is a weak point. During a strong hurricane, strong gusts of wind and impacts from flying debris can cause the garage door panels to buckle and break.
Once the home’s garage door panels are compromised, this leaves the home and any vehicles parked inside the garage prone to damage.
Fortunately, garage door bracing kits are available, enabling residents to retrofit a garage door. This will enable the garage door to withstand greater wind speeds and more forceful impacts.
Homes in hurricane-prone regions should also be outfitted with outward-opening doors. The doors are a weak point, and if a home’s door is compromised by strong winds or flying debris, the home’s interior and all its contents will be ravaged by winds, rain, and flying objects.
In addition, homes built before Hurricane Charley should be inspected to ensure that the proper metal strapping is in place to hold the roof in place during a hurricane.
Following Hurricane Charley, Florida’s building codes were enhanced to require more durable connections between the home’s frame and the roof. But homes built in Florida before Hurricane Charley may not be up to code. Fortunately, older homes can be retrofitted with roof strapping, making the house less likely to lose its roof during a hurricane.
Storm Remediation Home Inspection
Once a home is equipped with storm shutters, garage door bracing, hurricane glass, and hurricane fabric panels, homeowners can contact their homeowner’s insurance company and request a storm remediation home inspection. An inspector will then be dispatched to ensure that the home is properly prepared for a hurricane; this can result in hundreds of dollars in savings on homeowner’s insurance rates. In most cases, the hurricane shutters and other hurricane preparations will pay for themselves in just a few years when it comes to savings on homeowner’s insurance in hurricane-prone regions.