Hurricane preparations should begin LONG before a storm is threatening to hit the area. To best preserve your home, there are some long-term and short-term things to consider. Here is a list of suggested hurricane/storm-related home preparations:
Review your insurance policies.
Call your insurance agent and review your insurance policy to make sure your home (and personal belongings) have the right amount of coverage, and that the policy (or policies) you have cover damage from wind, hail, etc. in addition to fire and other hazards. Many areas (especially coastal areas like ours) require an additional policy or rider to cover wind and hail damage from named storms.
Consider purchasing flood insurance.
You may want to obtain flood insurance for your home, even if you are not in a special designated flood hazard area. In coastal communities, certain areas that do not commonly flood during heavy rain may still experience flooding when a tropical storm system comes through. Many factors such as amount of rainfall, speed of the storm, wind speeds (sustained and gusts), and storm surge can all affect the flood levels. Flood insurance coverage is usually very affordable when you are not in a special flood hazard zone. Your insurance agent can give you a quote, but only if you ask about obtaining a policy BEFORE a storm is threatening the area. Once a storm reaches a certain proximity to your home, insurance agents can no longer sell new policies or bind coverage until the storm passes.
Make a complete inventory of your belongings.
Whether you choose to itemize them on a computer spreadsheet, paper-and-clipboard, fancy mobile app, or simply take detailed photos of all of your belongings, it's a good idea to thoroughly document what you own and the condition of the items prior to the storm. This way your insurance company has documented evidence that will be needed to pay out any claims you have for damage to your personal property. While you're at it, capture photos of the condition of your home itself for the same reason.
Check your roof.
While this may seem obvious, may people forget to check their roofs for damage PRIOR to the storm. Any weak spots in shingles, flashing, etc. can be easily turned into bigger problems and allow major leaks once wind picks up during a storm. Even a roof in perfect condition can still suffer storm damage, but you reduce the risk of problems by starting off with a roof in good condition.
Consider reinforcements to roofs, windows, and garage doors.
You'll find mixed opinions when researching whether you should tape or board up windows, so we suggest simply researching your options and doing what you feel is best for your home. However, it is always a good idea to check caulking around windows and seal up any gaps prior to the storm's arrival. Many homeowners, especially in areas where hurricanes are prominent, also invest in roof straps - these metal straps attach your roof to the walls of your home instead of just relying on gravity to hold the roof on the house. Some states, like Florida, even require roof straps when building a home. High winds can damage garage doors or cause them to blow open, so consider installing vertical garage door braces or wooden horizontal beams to reinforce them.
Secure any loose items on porch, patio/deck, in yard, etc.
Again, this may seem obvious, but it is one of the most important items to tackle when prepping for a hurricane or storm. Loose items like patio furniture, trampolines, swingsets, grills, planters, etc. can all become projectiles in high winds. These items, once tossed around in the wind, can cause severe damage to windows, siding, roofs, vehicles, etc. If you cannot move the item into a garage or shed, at least try to find a way to strap it to something solid that will not blow away. By securing your loose items, you protect not only your own property, but the property of your neighbors as well.
As you prepare your property for hurricane season, please feel free to reach out to our office at 252-335-8600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a reference to a handyman or other service provider who can help you get storm-ready. We have an extensive list of service providers in our convenient vendor guide that we are happy to share upon request.