10 Tips to Protect Your Home in a Hurricane
June 1 marks the beginning of Hurricane season in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Here are my 10 tips that can help you protect your home during a major hurricane or storm. Floridians have experience in the eye and most have survived a storm or two. Beach dwellers do know how important it is to be prepared. Heavy traffic, gas shortages, and uncertainty exists ahead of a hurricane. Whether you are a Florida native or a newcomer, storm readiness is imperative and necessary. Even after November 30th of the year, storms can still pop up unexpectedly.
Creat separate evacuation plans for natural disasters like tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods. Any of these events could occur in Northwest Florida. Evacuation plans differ depending on which event takes place. As well, evacuation plans differ based on the area you live in. Beach dwellers will need to secure their homes and evacuate much quicker if the storm is coming up one of the coasts. While a tropical storm or tornado may require you and your family to shelter in place, a hurricane may require you to secure your homes and leave town. Know the zone you are located in. Click here to find your zone in Florida.
Insurance is a must for any homeowner. Be sure to obtain sufficient flood, wind, and home insurance. Getting a 4 point wind mitigation inspection can save you some money on your insurance premium. Obtain your insurance ahead of time. Insurance companies will not issue windstorm policies if there is a hurricane in the Gulf. Most realtors, lenders, and insurance companies will forewarn you and give you a time frame where they stop insuring homes. If you are in an area that floods when it rains you should consider flood insurance. Feel free to read my blog about how storm seasons affect real estate and insurance.
Familiarize yourself with your land and it’s location. First, cut back trees that hang over your house and trim back the branches. Trees will lift up out of the ground, roots and all. Damage is likely when this happens during a storm. Some trees have even crossed power lines and blocked roadways. The potential hazards are endless. If your home has more than one story. mobile, made of wood, or in low lying open areas, it is more susceptible to wind damage. Secondly, move small items into the garage or storage space that can be secured. Small items like hammock stands and umbrellas can surely do damage to a home when the wind picks them up. Put dog toys and swing cushions aways and ensure hose reels are secured. As well, pool equipment also should be put inside.
Although most homes do not need tie-downs, some do. It is imperative that your manufactured or mobile home have the most up to date tie-down straps to secure your home. A mobile or manufactured home built prior to 1990 may not be equipped with hurricane clips or strong connectors that tie the walls to the foundation of the home. The good thing is that your home can be retrofit for a reasonable price. I would recommend having your home checked by a professional.
Windows and Doors
Based on the area you live in, impact windows may be required for insurance purposes. Some insurance companies require a certain type of hurricane-proof window before they will provide coverage for your home. Replace windows with those that have an impact-resistant or shatterproof glass. Precut shutters, outside to inside doors, and wind-rated garage doors also help to protect your home. As an average, you would probably be looking at a price range of $1000-$3000 for impact windows. Of course, the window size will vary the price range. Can you afford to replace single-pane windows? Other alternatives, such as pre-measured wood to cover your windows, can provide temporary quick fixes. Hurricane shutters are also available as a consideration.
Generators and Grills
Strengthening your home to help protect your family is very important. Some projects can be done inexpensively. In addition, having a small generator as an extra power source can be helpful to your home needs during a major storm. An electrician can hook up a separate circuit breaker just for a generator. It can be tied into your breaker box. Get cozy with your neighbors and see what they have to share. Maybe one home has power and another down the block does not. Check to see if you can feed a power cord to your neighbor to supply their freezer or refrigerator. Moreover, you can share a power source to plug in those cell phones. Also, if you can afford it, stock up on a grill and charcoal and/or a propane tank. This provides a simple way to cook food for sustenance.
Gather emergency supplies before you need them. If a storm is in the Atlantic and heading your way, you have already messed up. By the time you make it to the store, there will already be long lines, empty shelves, and a stressful environment. Keep an ear on the weather reports during hurricane season. If the news reports start naming upcoming storms, go to the store. Water is a vital necessity and you should keep plenty of bottles in your home. Keep emergency supplies such as canned food, water, flashlights, and batteries on hand at all times. Check and restock those items monthly as needed throughout the rest of the year.
If you are watching the news and the forecaster starts naming storms, call your family. Check-in on the elderly and ensure they are fortified with all the essentials needed to get through the storm. Move them into a safe environment and/or help them secure their homes to weather the storm. Don’t forget your pets! Pets are family too. Ensure you have also stored food and water for your pets. Toys for the pets and games for the kids will ensure everyone has something to do by candlelight at night. Having puzzles, cards, coloring books, and board games will ensure some sanity during a week-long power outage. Depending on the severity of the storm will determine how quickly the power can be restored.
Seek the help of qualified and licensed contractors for improvements that you can’t make yourself. It is important that you have the required permits on hand for insurance companies if damage does occur to your home. Insurance Companies will be very specific on estimations and what they will repair or reimburse you for repairs you make. Licensed contractors that perform major work on your home prior to a storm needs to be warranted and warrantied. Insurance Companies always send out their own damage assessors and you just never know how picky they will be with necessary damage repair.
Programs and Grants
FEMA has a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that is available for many home improvements. This includes the construction of a tornado shelter or safe room. Click here for more information. Florida also has a disaster information resource, click here.