Now that we are more than halfway through the 2019 hurricane season on both sides of the country, some storms have already hit or passed by some of the most vulnerable areas in the United States. However, this does not mean that everyone is safe yet. If you live in storm-heavy areas and your home has not been affected by a storm yet, you might want to make some last-minute preparations just in case the last weeks of hurricane season are active ones.
Since it is never too late to protect yourself, here are 5 things that you can do this late in hurricane season to keep your home and family safe until the very potential of being hit by a storm passes by at the end of November.
Protect the Vulnerable Areas Of Your Home
The first and most obvious, thing that you should do to prepare for a potential hurricane or for hurricane season as a whole is to secure all of the vulnerable areas of your home. The main areas are on the exterior of the house, including the windows, doors, roof, and garage door.
Shield and Cover Your Windows
Windows are some of the most vital areas of your home that you must secure before any storm comes around. Since they are made of glass, they can shatter upon contact with flying objects and forceful water or wind. The only kinds of windows guaranteed to withstand some of the impact of debris or wind from storms are impact resistant or storm proof windows treated with chemicals to keep them from shattering.
There are plenty of options for protecting these openings in your home, with the most popular being shutters and covers that are made especially for storms. These reinforcements are fitted to the exact shape and size of the window for maximum protection.
There are three main forms of hurricane shutters – plywood, metal, or plastic – that cover windows and protect the glass from shattering. The outer material will take the hit, leaving the window intact underneath.
In addition to just making sure that your windows do not shatter, you will need to apply a sealant around any gaps and edges, to prevent water from getting in. If you allow your windows to let in any kind of moisture, you can set yourself up to deal with anything from flooding to mold and mildew problems.
Bolt Down and Cover Entry Doors
Your entry doors are the next locations that must be secured to the home to avoid outside and inside damage from a hurricane. Anywhere that leads outside or into the garage will need to be protected.
Begin by bolting all doors shut, connecting them to the frame on both the top and bottom. During a hurricane, the wind can blow them completely off the hinges. By taking these precautions, you will be able to rest assured that everything stays inside, and no further damage can get into the home.
After making sure all of your doors will stay intact when the storm hits, you will need to seal around the edges to keep the water out from these areas as well. Additionally, this is all moot if your door is decades old or made up of a weaker material. If you’re not sure if your door can withstand hurricane force winds, reach out to a local contractor to find out what you need to do to fix that.
Stabilize Your Roofing Materials
There are more special storm reinforcements available for your roof, as they are very likely to blow off the top of the house from strong winds if they are not properly secured. These supplies come in both clip and strap form and are used to hold the materials down onto the top of the house, avoiding any uprooting.
They stretch from the roof to the bottom of the house, keeping the roof in place as much as possible. This way, even if the tiles or materials are blowing around in the wind, they will not come loose and will experience much less damage overall.
If you’ve had trouble with your roof in previous times, make sure that you’re prepared this hurricane season.
Protect Your Garage Door
Garage door damage during hurricane season is much more common than most people would like to think. While it is true that the roof of a house is one of the most vulnerable areas to storms, the garage door should not be overlooked under any circumstances.
In preparation, you should make sure that everything is properly attached. This can consist of bolting or strapping it to the hinges as necessary to make sure that the wind doesn’t take it away. While this might seem like a tedious task that is not necessary, you won’t regret your efforts when you don’t have to replace your garage door in the aftermath.
Secure Your Trees
While it is true that the people and items inside your home are the most important things to protect during a severe storm, taking care of the landscaping outside is vital if you want to stay as safe as possible. Untamed bushes and old trees can be a huge safety hazard while a hurricane is going on. Therefore, you should do your best to control it before everything sets in, avoiding anything hitting your windows and doors through the storm.
There are a few specific steps that you should take to care for your yard when you know a hurricane might hit in your neighborhood.
Cut and trim all plants
Start by cutting and trimming down all of the plants in your front and back yard. This includes trees, bushes, and anything with long branches that might come loose during the storm.
Although they might seem harmless, trees and plants can cause a lot of damage during a hurricane, especially with nearby windows. When you cut them down as short as you can, you eliminate the risk of anything being blown away toward your home.
Assess the health of your trees
Along with just trimming and maintaining the greenery in your front and back yard in preparation for a big storm, you will need to make sure that all of your trees are healthy and planted into the ground on a strong foundation.
Amid a powerful hurricane, even the biggest and tallest trees are subject to fall down and destroy everything in their paths. This is especially true when the trees in question are old and already leaning or falling over completely.
In these situations, it is best to call in a professional who can assess the real condition of your trees. The best person to consult is an arborist, someone who will let you know more details about the tree’s health, and give you advice on whether or not it will hold up during the storm.
Secure your plants to the ground
If you happen to be taking storm precautions that are extremely last minute, it is understandable that you won’t have adequate time to schedule an appointment with a professional arborist. In these situations, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Instead of scrambling to try and find someone to check on your trees, you can secure them to the ground with special cords that will hold them in place. Of course, you should get rid of any trees and plants that seem to be falling over or rising from the soil already, but those you are unsure of can be buckled into the ground.
Replace pathway materials with something softer
When it comes to yard and lawn storm preparation, the ground is something that is very often overlooked. It is true that loose branches from trees and bushes are the usual culprits of exterior home damage, but hard and loose materials on pathways can cause some trouble of their own.
If you have small rocks or gravel in your driveway, it would be a good idea to replace it with something softer, such as wood chips. This way, when the wind starts blowing around and your yard materials are being thrown into the side of your home, you will not have to deal with nearly as many scratches and holes as you would in an alternative situation.
Gather Your Personal Belongings
The next thing that you will need to do before a potential hurricane wreaks havoc on your home is to gather up all of your belongings. This step is important, not only for personal reasons but also for the insurance claim that you will need to file afterward if you are affected.
Take inventory of what you have
First and foremost, take inventory of everything that you have inside your home. Make sure that you keep track of your assets and personal belongings that are important to you. Knowing the value of each of these items will also help make the insurance claim process more seamless.
Keep photos of your belongings for insurance purposes
After you have gathered all of your belongings, you will need to take photos of everything that you own. This will help you to prove that you had ownership of these items if they are taken or destroyed when the storm finally hits.
Store your valuables in the dishwasher
If you have any important information or family heirlooms in your home, you will need to take some extra precautions to make sure that they remain untouched. While it might sound strange, the best place to hide them will be inside of your dishwasher in a waterproofed container.
That way, when the hurricane winds and waters come sweeping over your house, your most treasured belongings will be safe in hiding. As a bonus, if there happen to be any thieves roaming around the scene of the storm, they most likely won’t think to look there.
Save your information in multiple places
In addition to just taking photos and inventory of your assets and belongings, you will have to make sure that you don’t lose any information that you are collecting. Along with saving proof to your phone, it would be smart to upload it to a computer and save it to some kind of data cloud to access for later.
When this is done, you will be able to access your important information remotely, in the case that your electronic devices are destroyed within the storm. The same thing should be done for your contacts and any other data that you need on your cell phone or computer.
Check Your Homeowners Insurance
One of the most important things to do before you know a hurricane is approaching is to check your homeowner’s insurance. While all of the above preparations for your home and yard will be beneficial in keeping you safe during the storm, there will be plenty of other matters to attend to once everything washes away.
As a homeowner, it may seem like your insurance policy has you covered. However, there are a lot of gaps in most policies that you won’t know about until a disaster has already set in.
Along with making sure that your coverage amount is up to date and satisfactory for the number of damages that you are expecting, you will need to confirm that you have the right kind of coverage.
For example, the policies of most homeowners do not include flooding in the list of covered expenses. Since hurricanes include water and may induce flooding within your home, it is certainly something that you should look into adding onto your existing policy.
Furthermore, if you have done any recent renovations, you might be eligible to raise your insurance. In these cases, most companies allow homeowners to receive up to 130% of their home’s value.
Regardless of whether or not you feel that any changes should be made to your insurance policy, you can never be too careful. Make sure that you go over everything from top to bottom in advance, so you won’t have to pull your hair out later when you realize that you won’t be eligible for the full payout amount that you were expecting.
Prepare For The Next Hurricane Season
After you have secured and protected everything inside and around your home, there is one final safety precaution to keep in mind. Even though you have been lucky this year so far, there is no telling what will happen next season.
Therefore, you should begin preparing for the upcoming year, before the next hurricane season rolls around. This can include purchasing protective materials, up-keeping your yard continuously, upgrading your insurance, and anything else that will be necessary to prepare in advance.
While it is never too late to be prepared in situations like these, it also never hurts to be ready early for the next hurricane season. When your comfort, safety, and belongings are potentially at risk, it is impossible to take too many precautions.
As a homeowner, natural disasters are well… pretty natural. However, you want to be ready for the worst and that means having an experienced public adjuster on your side. Here at Bulldog Adjusters, we understand that you want to get your life to normal as soon as possible following a disaster. That’s why we put our all into making sure that you get back the largest possible settlement from your insurance company in a timely manner.