Hurricanes are terrifying feats of nature that can destroy homes in seconds. But, if people are properly prepared, there are ways to help safeguard property and families. Here are our favorite hacks…
Add Roof Straps
A hurricane could have wind gusts of 110 to 130 miles per hour. That is a whole lot of power! There are some simple things one can do beforehand to ensure that they and their family remain safe in a hurricane.
Roof straps are a low-cost and relatively easy-to-install fixture that will help secure a home in the event of a hurricane. These metal straps are installed into a roof's trusses and help connect them to the frame. These restraint straps will help battle against those mighty winds.
Cover Up the Windows
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that send turbulent waters through the water and end up coming onto land. Due to the intensity of these storms, they are pretty dangerous and often send debris flying around. This is why covering up those windows is a great way to prevent damage.
Shards of broken glass can end up inside or outside a home if windows are not adequately secured. The best way to avoid this is by either pulling shutters closed or, if time permits and it is safe to do so, boarding up those windows before the storm.
Create Survival Kits
In case of an emergency, there are certain items one will need on hand, and during a storm, we may not have the time to gather everything. So, the best thing to do is to prepare a survival and first aid kit before the hurricane season and to store them in an easy-to-reach location.
The Center for Disease Control suggests having emergency food and water, medical supplies, power sources like flashlights, personal items, important documents like passports, and a fire extinguisher in the kit. It would help if one also made a checklist of things they think they may need and kept everything in a bag.
Remove Tree Branches
Tree branches can pose a potential threat, as well. The best way to prevent future damage is to prune trees during the dormant season. Experts recommend removing tree branches that come within 10 feet of our home, especially branches that look fragile or dead.
When dealing with trees, it is best to let the experts take the lead. Improperly cutting branches can lead to trees being tossed around during the storm. When arborists handle the branch removal, they know how to do it properly, so it does not create a potential threat.
Pack Away Outdoor Furniture
Debris is not limited to only glass from windows. Since these wind gusts are so strong and intense, they can lift just about anything with them. This means one should take extra care if they have a lot of stuff in a backyard, like umbrellas, furniture, and decor.
In preparation for an oncoming hurricane, it is best to put these items in storage. Sure, having an outdoor space to relax and hang out in during the summer is an excellent investment. But it can take a turn for the worse if left out during a storm.
Having access to food is extremely important during a storm, and calling up the local pizza delivery shop to order two pepperoni pizzas will definitely not be an option. So one of the best things to do is to ensure that perishable food items do not go bad immediately.
It is basically unavoidable that the power will go out during a storm, which means the power to the fridge and freezer will be cut off. So, the best way to keep items from spoiling quickly is to lower the temperature inside a refrigerator and freezer so that if the power fails, the food inside will stay colder for longer.
Freeze Water Bags
This next tip will help in more than one way. The more our freezer is packed with stuff, the more the cold will stay insulated. This will help preserve ice, food, and other things one may need from a freezer. How does one better insulate a freezer?
Simply fill any empty space within the freezer with sealable bags full of water. These bags of water will help insulate the freezer and provide access to clean water and ice packs if needed in case of a medical situation. It is a double whammy.
Clear Those Gutters
During hurricanes, there are massive amounts of rainfall. It can rain from 6 to 12 inches or even more during a storm - so there is a high chance of flooding. Drainage is the best bet for keeping one and one's family safe when dealing with potential flooding.
The best way to prevent severe water damage is to give the water a pathway to go through. So, ensuring that our gutters and downspouts are cleaned up and free of any gunk is best. Otherwise, the water will have to find another place to go, which may leak into our home.
A little extra care goes a long way when prepping for hurricanes. Our doors may be extremely sturdy, but it does not hurt to reinforce them against strong winds and oncoming debris. If one can prepare beforehand, having sandbags on hand is an ideal way to back up doors.
Sandbags are inexpensive and very effective, making them a great way to add extra protection to one's home. For those unable to obtain sandbags, then moving heavy furniture behind doors is another great alternative for some additional protection.
Use Waterproof Storage
When preparing for natural disasters, we must consider the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, many homes suffer from severe water damage after a hurricane, and if they are still standing, many remaining possessions are completely ruined. There are ways to prevent losing important documents or photographs.
The best preventative method is to buy waterproof containers to store those important personal documents and other items near and dear to our heart. In addition to purchasing waterproof containers, keeping them in a high place will help because they can hopefully avoid the water entirely.
Buy a Sump Pump
A sump pump is a handy device. Its purpose is to move water from the basement to the outside of the home. So, when the sump pump measures that the water levels are becoming too high in one's basement, it will automatically discharge them into a designated drainage area.
Depending on the sump pump one needs, the cost will vary - but having something as effective as a sump pump on our side will be beneficial during a big storm. If one already owns a sump pump, it is recommended to give it routine inspections to make sure it is working correctly.
Caulk Each Crevice
Caulking around doors, windows, and individual panes of glass is another great way to prep for hurricane season. Although everything may look secure, the strong winds of a hurricane can easily rip through windows and doors if they are not entirely reinforced.
Caulk is a material that seals air leaks. It is waterproof and can be done in new or old construction. There are many how-to articles on the internet that explain the steps of caulking. However, if one does not feel comfortable doing it themself, any handyman could also complete the job.
Be Practical With Landscape
When designing outdoor space, there are many things to take into consideration - especially if one lives in a hurricane-prone area. We have to think about the fact that our yard is going to have to be able to endure major storms, so choose plants and landscaping that can withstand that.
When covering the grounds, opt for mulch rather than gravel. If a storm comes, the stones and rocks from the gravel can end up doing a lot of damage to our home once it is mixed in with wind gusts. Even though the gravel may look better, it is best to steer clear.
Upgrade Windows and Doors
Sometimes reinforcement is not enough. Even the most prepared homes with boarded-up windows and sandbags against their doors cannot withstand the hardest of storms and frequent ones, depending on where one lives. The best thing to do to prepare for storm season is to upgrade those windows and doors.
It may cost some more, but purchasing impact-resistant hardware will improve the house's overall chances. We want to ensure that our windows and doors can stand up against the harsh winds and rainfall of hurricanes. For those who live in a heavy-impact area, plenty of companies will be able to help out.
Invest in a Generator
A personal generator is one way to help deal with any future power outages. When a storm hits, the power can be out for days or sometimes weeks at a time. The best way to stick it out is not to lose power at all! So, another helpful tip is to buy a generator.
However, personal generators do have a slight setback. They can cost thousands of dollars, so even though they may greatly help in an emergency, they may not be a realistic addition to every home. If one is able to afford a personal generator, it would be a great addition to a home.
Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide is a hazardous and fatal gas. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, which makes it nearly impossible to detect. It is produced whenever material burns, so if one has a generator in their home, they should also follow this tip and purchase a carbon monoxide detector.
A carbon monoxide detector will help protect against a potential carbon monoxide leakage during a hurricane. There were 14 people whose lives were taken away during Hurricane Laura in 2021 due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is not only recommended but usually required by buildings to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Power in Numbers
Sometimes the best way to get through something is to do it together. Throwing a 'hurricane party' does not mean one has to have balloons and cake for guests. It simply means we are together to weather the storm - so invite those friends and family over!
When everyone is with each other, they can pool all their resources together. Additionally, it will make it easier to pass the time and improve everyone's morale. Instead of being alone, one will be surrounded by loved ones during these trying times.
Inspect the Foundation
The foundation of a home is what the house is built on. It is the load-bearing portion of the structure and is usually built beneath the surface. The type of foundation one ends up using usually depends on budget, personal preference, and where one lives - but what is most important is maintaining it.
Even though the foundation may not be exposed to the fury of a hurricane, if there is something wrong with the foundation, it could affect the entire house. For example, a crack in the foundation could lead to flooding or structural damage. Don't fret. Regular maintenance will spot those cracks, and they are easily fixed.
Prepare With an Evacuation Plan
Having a plan can make a difference in stressful situations. With hurricanes, one may not have a lot of time to think or act, so having an evacuation plan in place is an intelligent way to prepare for any potential hazards. An evacuation plan includes more than leaving our homes...
With an evacuation plan, one should plan on how to leave their home. For example, all the windows and doors should be secure and prepared for the oncoming storm. Also, ensure that family members know where the necessary supplies are kept and how to obtain them quickly and get to the shelter as soon as possible.
Look for Light
It may sound obvious, but having light sources is crucial in times of need. When there is no power, there is no electricity, so most of the light sources we are used to will be unusable. It is best to prepare beforehand and make sure we have plenty of other ways to light up our home.
For example, flashlights, candles, camping lanterns, and many battery replacements are good ideas to stock up on before hurricane season. Getting injured in the pitch-black would be a pity and is avoidable if we are appropriately prepared. Make sure that wherever one stores the light is also easy to access.
It is essential that despite staying inside and away from the storm, we remain vigilant in observing our surroundings. We must know what is happening outside and around us, in case it poses a potential threat to ourselves, our homes, and our family.
Outside danger could be even more dangerous than the actual storm. For example, a downed power line is a major hazard. If one sees one outside of their home and there is flooding nearby, it is recommended to shut off their home's power completely. That way, the current will not reach the property.
Keep Batteries in Storage
It may seem slightly old-fashioned in this world of wireless charging, but it is still important to keep batteries on hand in emergencies like these. Eventually, the power in our phones can die after not having access to power. So, making sure we have batteries on hand will, well, come in handy.
One can use batteries in flashlights, walkie-talkies, portable chargers, and more. It is also best to store them in a place that is easy to access in case there is no power. And since they are electronic, it is best to keep them in a waterproof storage container or away from where water could ruin them.
Make Sure the Roof Is Intact
Having a roof over one's head is more than just a phrase. It is something that we need to prepare for. We should be checking on our roof regularly to prevent anything that could result in a leak. We should already have metal straps secured onto our trusses - but there is more to help ensure our home's safety.
When we check our rooftop, we should look for broken or rotten shingles. Granted, it may not seem like that big of a deal and a problem that we could save for tomorrow. But one bad shingle could ruin our entire home. So better to fix it now instead of regretting it later.
Secure Outdoor Objects
In our home's outdoor space, some things, like chairs or umbrellas, can be easily moved indoors in the case of a hurricane. However, some items are just too big and heavy to take in and out when there are storms. In the case of these items, we have a tip that will take some preparation, too.
It would help if one secured these big-ticket items, like the air conditioning unit, a large grill, and satellite dishes, to the ground or the walls of their home. That way, it will be harder for them to be lifted up with the winds when a storm blows through.
Identify Safe Zones
Everyone has their favorite room in the house. It may be the den with big windows overlooking the street or the man cave in the basement. However, when waiting out a storm, certain places are safer than others, and it is best to identify those safety zones before a storm.
The American Red Cross suggests sheltering in "a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not likely to flood." So, having a designated room within a home that services this is the best option and will help keep one and their family safe.
Have the Car Ready To Go
When dealing with storms, preparation is vital. It is not only for ourselves and our home, but it is also key to have that car prepared to go at a moment's notice. Local authorities may advise evacuating at a moment's notice, and we will have to be ready if that happens.
The car should ideally be parked where it is covered and should always be fueled up and ready to go. Additionally, that survival bag should either already be in the car or located in an easy-to-grab spot so one can take it with them on their way out.
Be Familiar With Insurance
The problems of a hurricane do not stop when the weather calms down and things slowly go back to normal. For some, that is just the beginning of the issue. In the aftermath of the storm, they will have to start dealing with insurance companies to help restore whatever was damaged.
The best advice is to know our insurance policies beforehand and be confident that our home is covered against all potential outcomes, like flooding and fires. If an insurance policy does not cover a home properly, we may be left to fix everything out of pocket.
Keep Away the Boredom
If we are going to be stuck in one place for a long time, the best thing to do is to make sure that we are adequately prepared. That means having food, water, medical supplies, and batteries. Another thing we will want to take care of is boredom! Yes, we must find ways to pass the time, even in a storm.
Since we will be without power, one should stock up on activities that do not require electricity. One could entertain themselves with board games, books, arts and crafts, cards, and more. There are endless ways to pass the time while having a ton of fun.
Stabilize the Porch
Having a porch is a fantastic way to entertain friends or enjoy a relaxing day outdoors. However, during a hurricane, it can be a hazard to us and our families. Within seconds, the powerful gusts of wind can destroy the porch. So the best way to avoid that scenario is to prepare beforehand.
In order to prevent the porch from being swept away like Dorothy, one should double-check that each post is totally secured to the ground. Making sure that each post is anchored is definitely not a quick task, so allow plenty of time to finish it.
Turn On the Radio
We're taking it old-school with this next tip. One should purchase a battery-powered radio and have it on hand in the event of a hurricane. This does not mean one has to buy a colossal boom box to carry on their shoulder, but we certainly wouldn't judge ya if ya did.
Having a radio will help one stay informed on the latest weather forecasts and any updates from the government and news broadcasters. Also, it is best to make sure it is battery-powered, so in case it dies out, one can swap out the batteries and keep on listening.