“Hurricane Preparedness Week,” a time set aside to get your house and property ready ahead of hurricane season, falls during the second week of May—the 6th through the 12th. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, this is the time to prep your house ahead of hurricane season, which usually takes place during late summer and early fall.
So, how should the smart homeowner get ready for the potentially devastating winds and rising waters that accompany hurricanes?
First Line of Defense: Storm-Proofing Your Home
During May, well before the earliest hurricanes occur, you can take steps to strengthen your home against the strong winds and torrential downpours that hurricanes create. Some of these preparations are relatively easy to complete. For example, you should clean out your gutters and make any needed repairs on visible, or otherwise vulnerable areas of your home. Make a specific plan for moving outdoor furniture out of the wind and into a secure location.
You may wish to consider purchasing a generator now to provide power if and when it goes out—they won’t be so cheap later on when everyone else has the same idea. Learn now how to turn off the utilities of your home, just in case.
Other potential preparations you should consider are more likely to require both time and money but could keep your home from being damaged. Here are a few:
- Tie Down Your Roof. Use hurricane straps or ties (which you can purchase at most hardware stores) to more securely fasten your home’s roof to the frame of the house. This may be some work on the front end, but it can save you thousands of dollars in roof damage.
- Add Securing Bolts to Outside Doors. Strengthen your entry doors against strong winds by installing head and foot bolts (check your local hardware store) at the top and bottom of each door.
- Invest in storm shutters. You can buy factory-made storm shutters, or make your own, rougher but cheaper versions by cutting window covers to fit individual windows. For that, you’ll need exterior grade or marine plywood that’s at least five-eighths of an inch thick. Use even heavier, reinforced plywood to cover any large panes of glass, such as those found in sliding doors.
- Seal Your Doors and Windows. Check the caulking around your doors and windows. Remember: wind-driven rain can go deep into any crack, causing deep moisture damage and later mold infestation in your home. This kind of hard-to-detect damage can be present even when your home structure otherwise remains intact!
- Secure Any Attached Outdoor Structures. Make sure carports, porches and decks, entry canopies, and sheds are firmly attached and structurally sound. If they aren’t and can’t be easily reinforced or repaired, you may want to consider demolishing them before a hurricane does it for you and sends the pieces flying through your house.
Assess your Wind Insurance Coverage
Remember: home insurance policies vary a great deal. Depending on where you live, standard homeowners insurance may or may not cover wind or flood damage. Chances are, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, such as the Gulf Coast, your home insurance policy won’t include damage caused by high winds or rising waters. If it doesn’t, you may want to purchase a separate wind damage policy as a rider to your insurance or as a separate policy.
Read through your current insurance policy and then call your insurance agent or broker to find out if your coverage is enough. If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can also buy separate, government-backed flood insurance. Don’t wait until it’s too late–now is the time to make sure you are covered.
Inventory Your Household Items
Even if you do have adequate insurance, it doesn’t always cover all of your losses when you have to make a claim. You will not only need to be able to remember what you own (and most homeowners can only recall a little more than half of their belongings in these cases), but you will likely have to prove it to your insurance company’s claim adjuster. A thorough and professional home inventory to image and catalog every item that you own provides visual documentation of your home and its contents; this is undeniable proof for your insurance company when you need it. It also gives you a comprehensive and overall understanding of everything you own, making it much easier to find, view, organize, value and replace any items lost or damaged.
Remember: Insurance won’t cover a loss you can’t prove. TakeStock Inventory stands ready to assist you with protecting your valuable assets.