How to Prepare Your Property for Hurricane Season
Hurricane season is here again, and we wanted to give you a few basic tips on how to prepare your property for the possibility of being hit by one of these terrible storms. Follow along as we walk you through this list and let us know in the comments section below if you have any other helpful tips.
1. Know if your property is in a flood zone
The first thing you should do to prepare your property for a hurricane is to know exactly what your level of risk is going to be if you were to experience a hurricane and any flooding associated with it. Go to the FEMA website and enter your address to see if your property is in a designated flood hazard area. Your search will bring up a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for the surrounding area. This map will tell you what your flood zone risk is using language such as “Area of Minimal Flood Hazard” or “Special Flood Hazard Area.” Another useful website is floodtools.com. This site will show your flood risk on a scale from lower to higher and will show you the amount of flood losses, claims, and active policies in your area. For more information on flood insurance or flood maps visit floodsmart.gov
2. Take an inventory of your property
The next step to take is to make a proper inventory of everything located on your property. This will allow you know exactly what is located on your property and what you would need to replace it. This inventory should include your home and its contents as well as all outbuildings and their contents. This inventory can be done in several ways such as on paper, by photo, or online, just keep in mind that your inventory system is only good if you have it after a storm hits. I would recommend one of the apps mentioned in this post about The Best Home Inventory Apps of 2019. Start your home inventory today and update it as you add new items to your property.
It’s important that you understand what flood zone your property is located in and have a good inventory of your property so that you can make an informed decision for our next point.
3. Review your insurance policies
After checking your flood zone and making an inventory it is important to review all of your insurance policies. Keep in mind that most home insurance plans cover things like wind damage, but they don’t commonly include flood coverage. Most home owners have insurance on their homes, but when was the last time that you checked the level of your coverage to make sure that it was enough to replace your home with today’s building costs. You must also consider the cost to rebuild any outbuildings and shelters located on your property as well as replacement costs for all your other belongings. Take the time to make sure that your insurance policies will completely cover the cost to rebuild your property and replace items if they are damaged by a hurricane.
4. Check the roofs of homes and outbuildings
It’s important for you to start at the top of your home and outbuildings when you begin to secure them for a storm. The roof is the largest potential area for wind and water damage on any structure. Fully inspect your roof to make sure that all shingles, tiles, or roofing panels are properly secured and that none are damaged or missing. Fixing any problem areas before a storm can save you on costly repairs caused by wind and water damage.
5. Secure windows, doors, and other entry points
Another important point to consider is other entry points for water into your home and outbuildings. Every window, door, and opening is a potential area for water to enter your property during the blowing rain of a hurricane. Properly sealing around these entry points will go a long way to keeping your property safe from water. The other concern during a hurricane is windblown debris. Covering windows and doors with plywood is a great way to protect your property from this type of damage. One tip is to use Plylox window clips to secure the plywood to your windows without having to drill holes in your window casing.
6. Clean gutters and aid water flow
The cheapest thing that you can do to prevent water intrusion into your home is to clear all of your gutters and downspouts and to remove any obstacles that could block the flow of water away from your home. It’s very common for landscaping and bedding materials to obstruct the flow of water resulting in pooling of water near the base of a structure. A few minutes with a rake and a shovel can generally fix this problem. Be sure that you pay attention to the way the water will run off (remember that water will always flow downhill ). In some cases it may be necessary to put in more permanent solutions to drain the water such as pipes or french drains. There are many great resources online for ideas on how to drain any problem areas such as this article from Family Handyman.
7. Use sandbags
A good way to prepare for any flood water related to a storm is with sandbags. Especially if your property is within a flood zone or if it is subject to localized flooding. Sandbags can be purchased at your local hardware store or can be made using plastic bags filled with sand. They won’t completely prevent flood damage, but if deployed properly can divert water away from important areas of your property. Take the time to plan out how and where to use sandbags for the best benefit for your property.
8. Secure outdoor items
Another important point is to secure all outdoor items around your property. A hurricane has sustained winds in excess of 74 miles per hour, and can reach as much as 190 miles per hour. This can cause any unsecured items around your property to become projectiles. Take the time to move all outside furniture into the house or an outbuilding. Don’t forget items such as trampolines and play sets. They can be secured to something solid like a tree. Take a walk around your property and see if there are any other items that need to be stored or secured. It only takes a few minutes and can save you thousands of dollars worth of damages.
9. Check trees and branches
Other things that can threaten your property during a hurricane are trees and their branches. If your property has many trees you are at greater risk of tree related damage. It is always a good idea to take the time to walk around your property and take a look at all your trees. Look for any diseased or weakened trees. Look at all of their branches, specifically looking for any that overhang your home our outbuildings. If you see any suspect trees or branches take care of them immediately. Your area will have a specialized tree service that can take them down without damage to your property. Here is a good resource on how to find the best tree service.
10. Prepare for power outages
If a hurricane hits your property you will most certainly have a power outage caused by fallen power lines. Personal items such as flashlights and batteries are important to have on hand as candles are not really the best idea when you have wind and rain. Another important item to have available is a back up battery. This can be used to charge cell phones and other small electronics that can be very useful during a storm. The best item to have to prepare your property for a hurricane related power outage is a generator. A generator can be used to power items like lights and appliances, and if installed correctly can be used to power your entire home. It is very important that you understand how to safely operate your generator when the storm hits. Now is the time to learn its proper use and to practice how to operate it on your property. Remember to properly maintain your generator so that it is ready when it is needed.