Summer, the season of beach days, barbecues, flip flops, and (cue rumbles of thunder): Hurricanes.
For those of you who have so far been spared these unruly warm-weather storms, a hurricane is a rotating system of clouds and thunderstorms that forms over tropical or subtropical waters, according to the National Hurricane Center.
While a tropical storm has sustained winds of between 39 and 73 miles per hour, a hurricane (aka a tropical cyclone) has sustained winds of 74 or more mph. The United States has two hurricane seasons: The Atlantic, on the east coast, which runs from June 1st to November 30th, and the Eastern Pacific, from May 15th to November 30th.
Along with powerful winds, hurricanes cause heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, tornadoes, and landslides, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These can all be pretty costly for homeowners, not to mention dangerous to your safety.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk for your home and your household if a hurricane’s blowing its way toward you. Here are our top 6:
1. Prep for a power outage
Getting ready for a power outage is a process in itself, but it doesn’t have to be a lengthy one. For example, just having the batteries in cellphones, laptops, medical devices, and other electronics charged helps a lot if you lose electricity.
2. Protect doors & windows
Windows and doorways (including to your garage) are particularly vulnerable to the wind and precipitation that comes with a major storm. Here are a few ways to protect them:
- Seal cracks and holes to prevent leaks and airflow
- Cover air conditioners to guard them against flying debris
- Attach plywood over the exterior of windows to protect the glass
You may also want to take a look at your roof, before and after the storm, for loose shingles and holes.
3. Remove possible debris
Secure lawn furniture and anything else outside that could possibly take flight in strong wind. Check trees and bushes for branches that could break off and become projectiles.
4. Clean out gutters and pumps
Pay some extra attention to your gutters and sump pump before a major storm. Keeping them clear can help prevent flooding in your attic and basement.
While you’re at it, you may want to do a quick review of your home systems to make sure they’re in proper working order before the weather picks up. Our guide to electricity, plumbing, and HVAC in your home provides a great checklist.
5. Review your homeowners insurance policy
When a hurricane or other storm is approaching, it’s a good idea to brush up on the terms of your homeowners insurance policy. Are you covered for flooding? Do you have a separate hurricane deductible? Put all the necessary documents together in a waterproof bag and store them with your emergency storm kit.
Knowing what to expect financially, and what to do if you need to file a claim, can give you one less thing to stress about while you’re riding out the storm.
6. Come up with a plan
To devise an emergency gameplan, consider these questions:
- Do you have medication that needs to stay in the fridge?
- Can you stay warm or cool without heat or air conditioning?
- How will you stay informed with emergency updates from your local officials?
- If a major weather event is approaching, what are the evacuation routes for your area?
- Is there someone outside your area that you can stay with for some time if need be?
Go over the plan with everyone in your household to makes sure everyone is ready.
To find more information about prepping your household for a hurricane, check out the U.S. government’s hurricane resource website.