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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

10 Ways to Prepare for Hurricane Season

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

With the relatively docile weather pattern that north Florida has been experiencing lately, most folks probably don't realize that hurricane season is right around the corner.  That's right, the official start of hurricane season is June 1, which is exactly one week away.  NOAA is predicting 21 named storms with 10 hurricanes for the coming season.  While they can't say when or where they are likely to hit, you can bet your bottom dollar that Florida is high on the list of potential landfalls.  The last major storms that caused any damage to north Florida were Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma in 2016 & 2017.  So, odds are there's a hurricane in the not too distant future that could come our way.  With that being said, I thought it was high time that I covered ten ways to help prep your home so you can better weather the storm.

#1: Inspect your property now so you won't have a problem later. - When's the last time you walked around your property to do an inspection?  You'd be surprised at how much you can discover by checking the condition of your doors, windows, roof, and yard.  Do you see any loose or missing shingles?  Do any of your windows rattle when you open or close them?  Can you see daylight peeping in your front or back door when it's closed tight?  Have you noticed any ponding that occurs in your yard after a passing thunderstorm.  Are there any trees on your property that are leaning, diseased, or overhanging the roof?  Is the gutter clogged with leaves? The time to take corrective action is long before you see a hurricane warning on TV.  A little home and garden maintenance now could preclude having to file an insurance claim when the next named storm rolls through town.

#2: Consider upgrading your windows & doors. - You'd be surprised at the damage a storm can do if a window shatters or a door blows out during a storm.  Once your home's weather defenses are compromised, the destruction that wind and rain can do to walls, floors, carpets and furnishings is unbelievable.  If you've been thinking about replacing your home's windows or beefing up the doors, these upgrades won't just up the ante on your home's energy efficiency and security, it will also help defend it from hurricanes.  It may even help you qualify for a reduction on your homeowner's insurance.  The same goes for replacing your roof or upgrading your garage door.  

#3 Stock up on storm supplies while the getting is good. - If you think the supply chain has been fowled up by COVID-19, wait until a hurricane warning is announced.  Then the supply of everything from plywood and blue tarps to batteries and bottled water will disappear faster than you can drive to a big box store.  As Ben Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  That means you should start stocking up on hurricane supplies while there's an ample inventory.  What I normally do by June 1 is make a list of everything I'll need to weather the storm and any resulting power outage that might last as long as a week.  Then I check off what I have on hand before buying anything I'm lacking.  This way I won't have to panic buy at the last minute should the worst come to worst.  

#4: If you have a generator, make sure it's good to go. - While having an auxiliary generator is nice should the power go out, when was the last time you used it?  If your generator has been sitting idle for a year or more, chances are it will fail to start when you need it most.  Just like any internal combustion engine, generators need periodic maintenance.  That means you should see if yours starts long before the lights go out.  If it fails to start, don't delay having it serviced.  If the manufacturer has a recommended maintenance schedule, make sure you adhere to it if you don't want to be relegated to 19th Century technology should you lose power during a storm.

#5: Is your home's electrical system up to code? - If it isn't, an electrical surge or lightning strike can do more than just fry a few wires, it can set your house ablaze.  If you think that hunkering down while the wind howls and the thunder cracks is scary, think of what it would be like were your home to catch fire while a hurricane rages outside.  Better yet, if you live in a home that is more than 20-years-old, it would be a good idea to have an electrician give your home's electrical system the once over.  While you're at it, ask  what it would cost to install a whole-house surge suppressor.  This will help your home deal with a storm-induced electrical surge or bolt from the blue.

#6: Make sure your evacuation plan includes a checklist for your home. - While it's vitally important to make sure you know what to pack and where to go should you be forced to evacuate your home, you should also make a checklist of what to do to protect your home should you be forced to leave it.  This should include emptying your fridge and freezer of all perishables.  There's nothing worse than coming back to a home that reeks of rotting food.  You'll also want to police the yard to remove anything that the wind can turn into a missile.  Last but not least, turn off the electrical main, the gas, and the water to protect your home while you're away.

#7: Take an inventory of your home before a hurricane hits. - Everyone hopes and prays that their home will be spared the wrath of God.  The problem is if your home is heavily damaged or swept away by an act of God, you could be in the unenviable position of having to prove the worth of your home and everything in it.  The way around this conundrum is to inventory and photograph your home and possessions before a hurricane hits.  This way if you come back to a scene of utter devastation, you'll have proof positive of what you lost.

#8: If you have a deck or a carport, make sure you secure it. - Just as you need to police your yard to make sure that nothing in it goes flying through a window, if you have a wooden deck or a carport you need to make sure that these structures don't wind up gone with the wind.  If the wind picks up either of these structures, the flying debris can beat your home to pieces.  To keep them from going airborne, make sure the posts that anchor them to the ground are going to be able to handle the uplift caused by winds of 75 MPH or greater.  If necessary, add additional anchors to help support them when the wind howls.

#9: The $5 solution. - For around $5 you can buy a tube of waterproof calk that can help you seal any cracks, holes, and gaps in your home's defenses.  Wind driven rain can infiltrate the tiniest of cracks in weatherstripping or holes caused by electrical wires and cables that enter your home.  An hour is all it takes to seal anyplace that wind-whipped water is likely to intrude during a storm.  This can prevent everything from water damage to black mold.

#10: When was the last time you spoke to your insurance agent? - The last thing you want to have happen is to have your home damaged by a storm only to have your claim denied because of a gap in your insurance coverage.  The best way to prevent this is to have a 10-minute conversation with your agent to make sure that your home is fully covered for anything Mother Nature can throw at it.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com

1 comment:

  1. When you consider the fact that for most people their home is their biggest investment, it never ceases to amaze me how many folks wait to the last minute to defend it from an impending hurricane.

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