Before the Storm: What Can You Do to Protect Your Home?
Cover the Windows
If you live in an area vulnerable to hurricanes, consider installing storm shutters. They are available in several different types, and they will go a long way toward keeping the damaging wind and rain from entering through your home’s windows. As a side benefit, they may reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium.
Secure the Doors
Steel entry doors provide the best protection for your home. Double doors and French doors are most vulnerable to high winds. No matter what type of door you have, a hurricane panel is your best option to keep damage at a minimum. These galvanized steel or PVC panels are available at your local hardware store. You can also nail plywood over your doors to help keep out water and debris. Do not nail yourself inside the house, in case you need to evacuate the area on short notice.
If you have double doors that have no structural member in the center between them, you should purchase and install special hardware to secure the doors where they meet. Bolts that secure the door into the framing at both the top and bottom greatly increase the door’s strength. Wedge a dowel or a piece of broom handle into the track of sliding glass doors to prevent them from coming loose when the wind howls.
Provide stiffening support for garage doors. The pressure from wind increases with the door’s size, and wide doors in particular need bracing for stability during high winds. Make your own vertical supports by nailing two 2x4s together and attaching them to the inside of your garage door with “L” brackets.
Keep the Yard Clear of Flying Debris
Flying tree limbs pose a great danger during high winds. Trim trees to avoid the possibility of large limbs doing damage to your house. In addition, selectively thinning out the branches to allow wind to pass through will reduce the potential for damage to the tree itself. Dead or damaged branches should be removed before they become flying missiles aimed straight for your house.
Develop a Family Hurricane Plan
Discuss the types of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
Secure your home (doors and windows).
Locate a SAFE ROOM or the SAFE AREAS in the home for each hurricane hazard.
Determine safe escape routes and meeting places prior to the storm
Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
Make arrangements prior to the storm for pets in case of mandatory evacuation.
Gather all non-emergency phone numbers and discuss the proper use of 911 with all children.
7. Prepare a Family First Aid Kit and put it in the SAFE ROOM.
8. Have a battery-operated radio for weather and safety updates.
Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit:
Water (1 gallon per person for 3 to 7 days)
Food (3 to 7-day supply for each person)
non-perishable packaged or canned food/juices
foods for infants or elderly individuals
non-electric can opener
paper plates/plastic utensils
First Aid Kit/Medicines/Prescription Drugs
Toiletries/Hygiene items/Moisture wipes
Radio (battery operated)
Toys/Books/Games for children
Important documents – waterproof container:
bank account information
Vehicle fuel tanks filled
Pet care items (If not going to shelter)
Despite the best attempts at protecting your home, damage may still occur. Take a look at your insurance policies to make sure you are adequately covered. Keep lists, pictures and video of your belongings as documentation for the insurance company.
Helpful Websites for information and safety
Link to NOAA: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Link to Generac’s Hurricane Preparedness’ Guide: http://www.generac.com/hurricane-prep
Florida’s disaster prep site: www.floridadisaster.org
Get alerts for your county/city: floridadisaster.org/alertflorida
Get a plan! www.floridadisaster.org/getaplan
Florida DOT: www.fdot.gov/emergencymanagement
Florida State Emergency Response team on Twitter: twitter.com/FLSERT
Volunteer Information: www.volunteerflorida.org/emergency-management