Living in the state of Florida all my life, I can assure you that there is a lot of work and planning that goes into preparing your home for hurricane season. The key to preparing your home for a hurricane is ‘preparation’; always be prepared!
You should never wait until the last few days to prepare your home. While some things need to be done within a few days of the storm, others should be done well ahead of time. Your home needs to be prepared both inside and outside before disaster strikes. Here are several things that need to be done to prepare your home for a hurricane.
Start with the most important aspect: your family. Where will your family stay during the hurricane? Will you go to a local shelter or evacuate to another area and stay with family and friends. The decision of where you will stay plays a big role in preparing your home for a hurricane. If you are evacuating and going to stay with family and friends or even at a hotel, you should have all your information together for where you will be staying and two evacuation routes in case one is not feasible.
Always let a family member in another area know your plans for the entire event. Letting someone know what your plans are and keeping them updated will help to insure that you are safe and reachable; in the event that something were to happen, they will have information on your location and your plans.
Don’t forget about family pets. Most laws will not allow you to leave them behind in an empty house in the event of a hurricane. If you plan to stay at a hotel, make sure it is pet-friendly. Horses, cows and other animals will need preparation and plans well ahead of the storm. Check with your local animal agencies to find out the resources and requirements for these types of animals.
INSIDE THE HOME
After making plans of where you will stay start by preparing things that important to you. Documents, birth certificates, trust and living-wills, deeds, car titles and other important documents should be packed up in a convenient carrying case and ready to go at all times. Other items that are very important should be organized and have a set place as to where they will be, for instance what items need to go into a safe, what items need to go into a safety deposit box, etc. After securing your personal items you can plan for what may happen when disaster strikes.
Inside your home, be sure to check for any leaks including gas and water. Even the smallest amounts of windcan turn a small leak into a major one and create thousands of dollars worth of damage. Be sure that all windows and doors close and lock securely.
Choose a central area in your home that does not have any windows or exterior walls. Keep your supplies in that room and keep it prepared for your actual location during the storm. In the even of a tornado, this is where you will want to put your family.
Always be prepared for the worst. Hurricanes are unpredictable and can speed up and change directions at any given moment. Just because the storm looks like it may hit 400 miles away in 3 days when you got to bed, doesn’t mean that you can’t wake up with only a few hours to spare before the storm hits. Always be prepared with the essentials for surviving a storm in the worst case scenario. Be prepared with the following items at all times during hurricane season:
First aid kit
Enough Drinking water for each person in your family for at least 2 weeks
Enough non-perishable food for each person in your family for at least 2 weeks.
Plenty of clean clothes
Flashlights and Candles
A fire extinguisher
Blankets and pillows
Games or books for children
Emergency cell phone
And everything else that you would need.
Never wait until the last moment or even the last week to get these items. When a storm nears the area, local department stores run out long before the storm.
OUTSIDE THE HOME
Have your home prepared ahead of time. Don’t wait until the day before the storm to get lumber and bolts to cover windows and doors. Trust me, after growing up in Florida all my life, there will be no lumber the day before. The best option is to get the wood ahead of time, precut the wood to fit every door, window, vent and or other fragile space. Be sure to number each door and window with large numbers using paint or another marking instrument. Once the wood is precut store it in a safe area until needed.
Once you have the materials prepared to secure your windows and doors you should then move to the yard. Cut down any old trees that are leaning or dying that could end up falling on to your (or anyone else’s) property. Just because you don’t like your neighbor doesn’t mean you can leave that oak tree hanging over their fence. Doing so poses a huge liability for you. Be sure to cut back any old limbs, remover loose boards and anything else that may become a flying object in even the mildest of winds. Don’t forget about other building such as greenhouses, sheds and barns. These buildings will need to be secured as well.
Be sure that your water spigots and water shut off valves are in excellent working conditions. Just because you may not be there doesn’t mean that the fire department or neighbors may not need them for an emergency or that something won’t happen and they need to shut the supply off.
With in 3-5 days of the storm start bringing in any lawn ornaments, feeders, or other loose materials that could become a flying object or be damaged by the storm. All too often, many people forget things such as bird feeders, wind chimes, flowers in pots, dog hoses, water hoses, yard tools, bird bathes, fountains and other lawn ornaments and come home to a large mess full of destroyed items and even damage to their homes. Place these items inside of your home, shed or garage.
At least 3 days before you plan to leave (or ride the storm out), begin boarding up your home. Don’t wait until the 2 days before the storm as the winds will be rolling in and you may not have time to complete the entire process.
Before you begin the actual boarding process, to one last sweep through your home checking all natural gas and propane valves and shut off. Since your windows will be boarded up there will not be enough circulation to clear your house in the event of a gas leak. Once you have checked your valves, you are now ready to begin boarding the boarding process.
Always use healthy lumber. Lumber that it dry rotted, cracking or damaged in any way may cause more damage to your home. Use screws instead of nails. With continuous, whipping winds, nails can be pulled right out of your homes exterior. You screws that are long enough to penetrate the lumber and the exterior by at least, inch; more is always better. Be sure to leave at least doors clear until you are ready to leave. At that point it is safe to board the last 2 doors. If you are planning on riding the storm out then do not board up the last 2 doors but insure that they do have strong locks in working condition.
While these are the basics, somethings will very depending on your location, local laws and ordinances, and your families needs. Following these preparation methods before the storm will help to insure that both your family and your property are as safe as possible.