How to Hurricane Proof Your Home

While most people know that evacuation is always best when a hurricane is approaching, that doesn’t solve the problem of keeping one’s home and personal belongings safe from the storm. Hurricanes cause a devastating amount of damage each year, and homeowners face the brunt of the financial burden. In light of the Katrina tragedy, it has become alarmingly apparent that many insurance companies will not cover a great deal of the damage that can accompany a hurricane. Homes that were damaged by Katrina were denied insurance payments due to confusing details and strange restrictions that were hidden in the fine print of their contracts. A popular story hitting the news detailed an account of one homeowner asking for help from his insurance company after Katrina and being denied due to the fact that his home was destroyed by water, not wind, according to the company. Apparently, both were not covered under his coverage plan. He had to rebuild on his own.

While you can never be sure of just how cooperative your insurance company will be until tragedy actually strikes, there are ways to protect your home from hurricane damage. Preparing your home for a hurricane can not only keep your belongings safer, but it can also reduce your insurance premiums (ask your insurance provider about how). Be prepared to face a hefty price tag with some of the precautions that you can take, but keep in mind that your family’s safety, along with the peace of mind you’ll have from knowing that your home is reinforced, will pay for themselves in the event of a damaging storm.

One of the simplest ways to protect your home before and during a hurricane is to clear your property of potential flying objects. During hurricane season, keep trees branches cut as far away from your home as you can. If possible, have trees that are within damaging distance of your home removed. Keep decorative trees at a distance, ensuring that they will not damage your home in the event that they should fall. Have a professional come in once a year to inspect for dead trees, which are far more susceptible to falling during hurricane weather, or even during simple thunderstorms, than live trees are. Finally, before your evacuate or on the day before a hurricane is scheduled to hit your area, go ahead and pick up lawn items and potential debris and store them inside of your home. For lighter storms, this means removing fallen tree branches, potted plants, and decorative items. For stronger storms, this may also include heavy items such as bicycles, grills, water hoses, etc.

The next step to take is reinforcing your home’s strength. While you are trying to decide what needs reinforcing, take into consideration any area that might allow debris or water into your home. For example, the cracks underneath doors are often forgotten. For protection against light flooding, install heavy duty door sweeps. Also, inspect your home for holes, cracks, etc., that may need repair. The slightest irregularity can make it easier for a hurricane to rip your home apart, so inspect often.

Your windows, of course, are next on the agenda. Installing storm shutters is a great way to prevent damage from flying debris, but you can take even further precautions. Installing reinforced windows can be another addition to your hurricane-safe home. These windows are designed to withstand the trauma that can be inflicted by debris at upwards of thirty mph. Also turn your indoor d�©cor into heavy duty protection. Purchase sturdy blinds and thick window treatments to make the barrier between your family and the elements even stronger. Not only are heavier curtains and thicker blinds added protection, they are usually also much more pleasant aesthetically than their cheaper counterparts. Many of the fatalities that occur during hurricanes are caused by flying debris, so think seriously about implementing each and every one of the aforementioned steps to keep your windows from becoming a deadly entryway into your home.

If your home has a garage, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise during hurricane season. An airy garage is an excellent way for hurricane winds to enter your home, and most garage doors are no match for a storm’s fury. Keep your garage from becoming a dangerous wind trap by making sure that impact resistant doors have been installed.

Some of the most devastating damage that can be seen after a hurricane comes in the form of destroyed roof tops. It isn’t uncommon to see blue tarp draped across homes after even a smaller hurricane. Reinforcing your roof can be done in several different ways, however the best way is to contact a professional for help. A professional has access to steel accessories that can be used to greatly increase the strength of your roof. If this isn’t possible, simply have braces installed for additional support or use a strong glue to attach the roof more firmly to the building. You can use a caulking gun to apply the glue to the underside of the panels.

Additional steps you might take to hurricane proof your home may include window bars, door bolts, and window sealants. These methods are not great for your home’s overall appearance, however they may be considered as temporary methods of protection if an oncoming hurricane is being predicted as extremely dangerous. To protect any items that will have to be left behind should your family need to evacuate, have several fireproof safes on hand to store pictures, collectibles, keepsakes, and other personal objects of value. Also store in them copies of your personal records, birth certificates, social security cards, etc., as personal identification can be difficult after a storm has ruined a home. Keep these items safely stored in a basement in a waterproof plastic bag.

Of course, your final protective measure is to talk to your insurance representative before hurricane season is underway. Ask about how their company decides whether or not to cover any hurricane damage, and make sure to ask about whether you have flood insurance in addition to hurricane insurance (hurricane insurance may only cover wind damage). If your company does not provide the clear, concise answers that you are looking for, switch policies. If they do, get it in writing. What you are told before a hurricane and what is actually done by the company after a damaging storm may be two totally different things.

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