7 Ways to Hurricane-Proof Your Home

By: Tracy Myers

For the Eastern Pacific, hurricane season begins May 15 and ends Nov. 30. For the Atlantic, hurricane season begins June 1 and also ends on Nov. 30. That’s a LONG time to sit and wonder if your home is able to withstand the force of a Category 1, 2, or higher hurricane. It’s also plenty of time for you to get off of your butt and get prepared, specifically if you live in hurricane-prone states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. So stop and think for a second: is your garage refrigerator fully stocked with beer? Yes? Good. Surf boards waxed and ready to go? Excellent, dude! But before you send out invites to that hurricane party, consider these seven ways you can hurricane-proof your home.

  1. Reinforce your windows

    Impact resistant windows are more expensive than regular windows, but they’re built to withstand the impact of a missile (i.e. a tree trunk) traveling at more than 30 mph. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, such windows are essential, and will save you money you’d otherwise spend repairing the damage your home might sustain. Storm shutters, made of either metal or plywood, are another effective and less expensive option, but be sure they are installed correctly for maximum protection.

  2. Secure your outdoor stuff

    A hurricane can produce winds in excess of 155 mph, as well as your friendly neighborhood tornado. And if a hurricane is headed your way, your unsecured outdoor trash cans, grill, potted plants, and patio furniture will be transformed into flying projectiles, causing damage and injuring anyone unlucky enough to be outside. Don’t assume your garden gnome or front yard pink flamingo is going to be around after a hurricane blows through your neighborhood. Bring your outdoor items into your home or secure them inside your garage. And speaking of garages…

  3. Reinforce garage doors

    Did you know your garage door is the weakest part of your house? Garage doors are generally made of thin, lightweight metal, and supported only on the sides, not top and bottom. But reinforcing a garage door is relatively simple and can, in some cases, be done with a pair of crossed two-by-fours. Before doing so, be sure to release the door from the garage door mechanism and lock it. More expensive options include purchasing and having professionally installed specially reinforced garage doors.

  1. Buy and install a generator

    So you rode out the hurricane, your windows are intact, and your dogs and cats have finally stopped barking and meowing. You breathe a sigh of relief, until you discover there’s no electricity. And it’s 100 degrees outside. And with branches littering the streets, preventing repair crews from easy access to your home, chances are you’re in for a few days (or more) of no air conditioning. Unless you’re smart, thought ahead, and own a generator. If you’re really smart, you own either a portable emergency generator, which can generate enough juice to power more than one room in your home, or a standby generator, which can power your home’s air conditioning. These generators come in different sizes, and some types need to be installed by a professional electrician. So shop around now instead of the day after a hurricane.

  2. Batten down the hatches

    “Batten down the hatches” is pirate-talk for “In the event of hundred-plus mph winds, let’s make sure your roof doesn’t blow off!” Metal hurricane straps are designed to secure your roof’s tresses to the walls of your home, and may already be installed in your home if you live in a hurricane-prone area of the country. After checking to see if you have hurricane straps, get out a ladder and take a good look at your roof’s tiles and shingles. If any are loose, use roofing cement to glue them down. And while you’re up there, take time to clean any debris out of the gutters, so that rain water hitting roof isn’t prevented from safely draining off.

  3. Trim your trees

    In the event of a storm, nearby dead tree branches will snap and possibly damage your home or more embarrassingly, a neighbor’s home, which can lead to some uncomfortable conversations with your insurance provider. Improperly cutting and pruning a tree can increase the danger of it breaking apart in high winds, so consult with and hire a certified arborist to do the job correctly.

  4. Do not drain your swimming pool

    Once you’re done enjoying the unbelievable waves that come with any approaching storm, it’s time to take care of your backyard swimming pool. Remove any rubber rafts and rubber ducks, but do not drain your pool. The pool’s water will serve as a protective shield that will prevent damage from flying debris. The water remaining in your pool also prevents hydrostatic pressure, that is, water that builds up in the ground around the pool, which can cause your pool to “pop” out of the ground.

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