Hurricane season has arrived again, and anxious homeowners along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are once again preparing for disaster. Last year’s hurricane season was a record-breaker, with so many hurricanes that meteorologists exhausted the list of hurricane names, and had to resort to using the Greek alphabet to identify storms. Will this season be any different?
In general, conditions this year appear very similar to last year, meaning we could see another very active season. So what does this mean for the average homeowner? How can we prepare for a very dangerous season?
The simplest way to prepare for hurricane season is, quite simply, to prepare. Every time a hurricane approaches, we see images on the news of panicked residents tearing through grocery, hardware, and discount stores looking for batteries, bottled water, flashlights, and food. In a disaster, minutes and seconds count, and these people are wasting hours looking for items they could have had on hand earlier. Don’t be one of those people. If you don’t have to fight your way through these crowds, you can spend time preparing your home for the storm.
There are basically two ways to think about protecting your home. The first is keeping water, wind, and debris from entering your home. The second is protecting your possessions if water does enter your home.
We’re all familiar with the procedures for keeping water and wind out: boarding up windows, stacking sandbags around the house, and so on. We see footage on TV of homeowners taking these precautions almost as often as the footage of people charging through the stores looking for supplies. Certainly, these protective measures are a good idea, but many homeowners finish them and leave, without considering how to protect the interior of their home.
It’s very frustrating to see homeowners spend hours boarding up windows and filling sandbags, only to have water get into their home anyway because their roof is blown off by hurricane force winds. Homeowners ought to take steps to protect the interiors of their home, but many don’t.
So, how does one go about protecitng their cherished posessions inside their home? Start by assuming that the worse case scenario will unfold as the hurricane moves over your area. Plan on returning home to find a foot of water in your home. The main idea, then, is very simple: keep everything dry. There are a few ways to do this. Obviously, if your home has more then one floor, move your valuables upstairs. But, you still need to protect your property from water coming down from above if your roof fails, so be sure to cover everything with a tarp. If your home only has one floor, you need to get everything up as far off the ground as possible: put furniture up on blocks, and store valuables in high cabinets or on bookshelves. Another idea is to store items in plastic boxes, such as Sterilite or Rubbermaid containers.
Finally, have a plan for your pets. Many shelters won’t allow you to bring your pet inside in the event of an evacuation, which could leave you with the heartbreaking choice of either risking your life for your pet, or leaving it behind to survive on its own. So what is a pet owner to do? If you’re willing to drive a little further than most evacuees, you may be able to find a hotel room in a safe area. Many motels do accept pets, but you have to do your research and shop around. You need to make your reservation well before the storm, though, or you won’t be able to get a room. How far should you drive? Well, if you’re evacuating from the Gulf Coast, don’t expect to get a room anywhere in the states along the coast. You’re better off driving north than east or west. If you live in Louisiana, for example, you’d be wise to look for hotels in Tennessee and Arkansas. It will cost you more gasoline, of course, but it could save your pet’s life.
Hurricanes are never easy to deal with, but, if you follow these steps and simply prepare, you’ll fare better than most.