Is your home ready for severe weather? We see some of the most destructive weather in late summer and fall. September is the peak of hurricane season for the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast. Secondary tornado season for the Southeast and Midwest begins in October. September is also FEMA’s Emergency Preparedness Month, so now is a great time to prepare your house for extreme weather.
Extreme weather is expensive. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, winter storms, and wildfires cost Americans about $91 billion in 2018. To make extreme weather less of a financial burden on your family, prepare your home for extreme weather before it happens.
Remove Outdoor Debris
When tornadoes and hurricanes produce high winds, almost anything can be an airborne missile. Store lawn furniture, yard décor, and potted plants. Prune low-hanging tree limbs and check for any limbs that might damage electrical lines.
Secure Indoor Furniture
In a tornado or hurricane, indoor furniture can topple, causing damage or injury, if you’re sheltering in the house. Use furniture anchors to attach large pieces like bookcases and dressers to the wall. Anchor large appliances like water heaters with metal strapping.
Check Your Windows and Doors
If your area is at risk for flooding, whether it’s from hurricanes, storm surges, or other types of flooding, make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed. Doors and windows that leak can let in water and cause interior damage. Also consider having your garage door reinforced or replaced, especially if it’s a wide, 2-car door, because these can buckle in high winds. Protect your windows with permanent storm shutters. Plywood sheets are effective as temporary shutters, so have some on hand if you live in an area where hurricanes are possible. Don’t wait until a storm is forecast to buy plywood; it sells out fast.
Secure Your Roof
Hurricanes and tornadoes can rip the roof from your house. To prevent this, get a professional to install hurricane strips or clamps. These devices securely attach your roof to the studs of a load-bearing wall, making a stronger connection between the roof and your house.
Know How to Turn Off Utilities
If your home is damaged during a storm, you need to shut off your water, electrical, and gas supplies to prevent further damage. Turn off electricity to your house at the main electrical panel or fuse box. If a water line breaks, turn off your water either at the main water meter near the street or at the water line that leads into the house. If you smell gas, leave the house and turn off the gas at the shut off valve outside the house.
Protect Your Air Conditioner
If you have an exterior air conditioner or heat pump, cover it with a manufacturer-approved cover (instead of with a tarp or garbage bag). In a storm, airborne debris could get caught in the unit and cause damage.
Inventory, Document, and Insure Your Belongings
Maintain a detailed inventory of what’s in your house. Write down descriptions and details of your valuables, including the year, make, and model numbers, if appropriate. Take photos and videos of your property. Keep these records in a safe, waterproof place. You may want to store copies of these records with trusted family or friends. This will make filing an insurance claim easier if you have storm damage. Understand what your insurance covers and doesn’t cover, too. For example, remember that homeowners insurance doesn’t automatically cover flood damage.