In the last couple of years, Florida has seen an increase in hurricane activity. There is a realistic chance that your home can be damaged by heavy winds. High waves can also represent a threat if you live close to the water. Hurricane season in Florida lasts from June until November, so it’s due time to get informed on how to protect your home from storm damage.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. For most people, the house they live in represents the most expensive thing they own. Getting your home insured is a great way to protect your most valuable asset. However, there are also some additional steps you can take to make sure your home suffers little to no damage and that you and your loved ones are safe. We’re going to divide the measures you can take to protect your home from storm damage into two groups:
- Things that can be done prior to the storm.
- Things you need to do when the storm is approaching.
Things to do prior to the storm
We highly advise that you focus on long-term preparations and other ways to make your home safer. You will actually do most of the work before the storm hits. This way, you will be able to take care of just a few necessities if there is a sudden emergency. Here are tasks you can do in the months outside of the rainy season:
Trim the garden and trees
Get rid of any loose branches. They can easily get snapped during a storm and pose a significant risk to your home. Flying branches can even damage your car or topple power lines causing further complications. Your best bet is to saw them off and maintain your garden regularly. If you’re home-sharing, get your roommates to do it with you! Do constant checkups and trim anything that could pose a risk.
Install storm shutters and impact-resistant windows and doors
The windows of your home are probably one of the most vulnerable areas. Debris can easily get picked up by strong winds and hurled at your house. Storm shutters will protect your windows and doors from rocks and branches that would otherwise break them. Also, consider installing impact-resistant windows that can withstand the high pressure caused by heavy winds.
Flood-proof your home
Storms are usually accompanied by heavy rainfall. Flooding and water damage can do a lot of harm to your home. It’s important to know what is covered by flood insurance since homeowners insurance might not cover repairs from flooding. Regardless, having insurance shouldn’t be an excuse for skipping other measures to prevent water damage. Make sure your gutters are clear and that any excess water flows away from the foundation of your home.
Have a backup power source
If your home loses power during a storm, a good piece of advice would be to unplug all devices. Instead of just waiting for the power to give out, there is some prep you can do beforehand. Installing a surge protector can save your electrical devices from sudden voltage spikes that occur during intense storms. A backup power source, like a generator, can keep your lights on even if power lines get knocked out. Simple solutions, such as a gas-powered hot plate and some flashlights, shouldn’t cost too much. What’s best is that they are portable, so you can take them along if you need to evacuate.
Things to do when a storm is approaching
If you’ve gone through the other steps we’ve mentioned above, the number one thing you should focus on is staying calm. Besides gathering your loved ones, there are a few more measures you can take to protect your home from storm damage and make sure you are safe.
Have emergency resources handy
To stay calm and level-headed, it is a good idea to have a list. When a storm is approaching, you can just go through all the chores and mark them off as you go. That way you’ll know you haven’t forgotten anything important. The Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA offers guides and additional resources for wind protection. Here are some things you should have prepared if a storm is coming:
- List of chores to do in order
- Telephone numbers of emergency services
- First aid kit packed with emergency medicine (i.e., insulin)
- Waterproof bag to store essential documents and your phone
- Clear outdoor items
Put away any loose gardening equipment you have lying around before the storm hits. A pair of gardening shears is the last thing you need flying around in the storm. You should also safely store any porch or lawn furniture, sporting equipment, or whatever else you may have lying around. If you don’t have enough space, you can rent out storage space. Outdoor objects you can’t move inside should be safely secured or preferably bolted down.
Know your evacuation plan
In case the storm worsens, or if there is an evacuation order, you need to know where the nearest safe shelters are. Plan the route you will take beforehand. Another option is to move further away if there is a chance a hurricane will hit your area. Moving by yourself might be a bit tricky, but safety comes first. However, it is vital to secure your belongings during the process by getting moving insurance. Your possessions could get damaged or misplaced during the relocation, especially if there is a storm-induced crisis. Having insurance while moving will give you peace of mind.
Bring pets indoors
While you can coordinate with family members when a storm is coming, your pets will need help and looking after. If you regularly keep your pets outdoors, you will need to bring them inside the house to keep them safe. Inquire with your insurance company to see if your pets are covered under your home insurance.
Walk around your property
Even if you maintain your home in good condition, it’s wise to do one more checkup before the storm arrives. Look for any misplaced items you’ve forgotten to bring inside that could turn into dangerous projectiles if picked up by the wind. Make sure all of the windows are closed, and the garage door is secured. Duct tape can be used for last-minute fixes or to secure loose fence boards.
Now that you know how to protect your home from storm damage, it’s time to do some preparations. When the next rainy season comes around, you will be ready, and you’ll have a plan of action.