If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, the last thing you want to do is wait until a storm warning is bearing down to start preparing your home for the potential damage. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that prepared homeowners can do themselves to protect their homes should a storm strike.
The most important consideration during a hurricane is to protect any potential points where wind and rain can enter your home. Make a list of all the entry points into your home – doors, windows, garages, and even entries that humans can’t use, like gable end vents, and holes drilled for pipes and cable connections. Make sure holes and any cracks you may find are filled with caulk.
Hurricanes can also enter your home in less obvious ways, such as by grabbing loose shingles and peeling them off, allowing water to seep into your attic and insulation. Secure all your shingles with roofing cement and check them periodically to make sure your roof is hurricane-ready.
But the aspect of hurricane preparedness you will most likely be paying attention to are securing your doors and windows. Experts recommend hurricane shutters for windows. When purchasing shutters, ask your supplier if they are rated to resist the impact of a hurricane. Shutters can be expensive, and some people opt to use plywood instead. If you choose to go that route, experts recommend ¾ inch plywood. Be sure to drill screw holes about 18 inches apart all around the plywood so that the board stays secure.
Of course, if you are just buying your shutters or plywood after you hear the storm warning, you are likely already too late. You should give some thought to your doors and windows and hurricane preparedness as soon as you buy your house in hurricane country, or, at the very latest, before hurricane season starts. If you plan ahead, you will be able to measure and drill your plywood, or install all the necessary hardware to hang your hurricane shutters. When a storm is bearing down, you will be ready. Don’t forget to keep a sturdy ladder and the right sized screwdriver handy, too. You don’t want to spend the hours before the storm hits searching your garage. As grim as it might sound, if you live in a particularly hurricane-prone area, you might find yourself becoming an old hand at installing and uninstalling your hurricane shutters.
Doors, especially double doors, can swing inward from the impact of a hurricane. Use deadbolts with a length of at least one inch. For double doors, which will be especially prone to swinging inward at the weak point where they met, also install heavy duty barrel bolt anchors at the tops and bottoms of the doors. Installing doors that open outward rather than inward will also protect your home from water and wind during a hurricane.
Don’t forget garage doors and entryways covered by louvers. Garage doors should have extra steel struts installed. Also, make sure they are rated for impact, just like your hurricane shutters. Gable end vents are another common entry points. Though they are protected by louvers, those louvers are not designed to keep out driving rain, so shutter them or, at the least, protect them with plywood as you would with windows.
It is vital to protect all the entry points in your home from wind and water. Water can, of course, flood your house and cause massive property damage. The wind from a hurricane, due to its pattern, can also get in and then apply upward pressure, actually blowing the roof right off the house.
Of course, it is important to protect the outside of your home during hurricanes, as well. Remove any dead trees or limbs from your yard. And secure trash cans, bicycles, law furniture and other items that could potentially break a window or injure someone as they fly through the air.
Hurricanes are inevitable, but with the proper planning, your house can weather the storm.