Preparing Your Home for Hurricane Season

high waves on beach pier
High waves from tropical weather offshore.

Take pictures of all of your possessions and keep a list of each, along with their serial numbers and value. Copies of these should be in a safe place outside of your home. You can store them on a flash drive or on your cell phone.

Check your insurance coverage since flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. National Flood Insurance Program

Katrina Damage
Damage near Dauphin Island Parkway from Hurricane Katrina

Find out if your home meets current building codes for high winds. Homes that meet or exceed current high-wind standards have a much better chance of standing up. Visit IBHS (Institute for Business and Home Safety)

Protect all windows by installing commercial shutters or preparing 5/8 inch plywood panels.

Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio.

Reinforce all garage doors. Since they are so large they are frequently the first part of a home to fail in high wind.

If you do not live in a mobile home or in a surge evacuation zone, designate an interior room with no windows or external doors as a “safe room”.

Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit.

If you can safely store gasoline, do so for your generator, chain saw and even vehicles.

Invest in solar-powered chargers for your rechargeable batteries and cell phone batteries.

Ensure that landscaping and trees do not become a wind hazard. Rock and gravel can blow in high wind. Tall trees over and close to your home may fall. Trim the dead, weak, or dangerous overhanging branches from all trees.

Few mobile or manufactured homes can withstand hurricane force winds. Even if they are tied down you put yourself and family at risk by staying in the threat of high wind.

Know your neighborhood’s and home’s vulnerability to wind, storm surge, and flooding.

Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact if you have to evacuate or abandon your home.

Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. Check with your county EMA.

Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.

katrina surge
Storm surge from Hurricane Katrina on Rabbit Creek.

Know the elevation of your property and how it compares to local floodplain maps. Even if it never flooded before it still can flood because floodplains change over time naturally, and with development.

In high-risk flood-prone areas, keep materials on hand like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves. Call your county emergency management agency to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home.

Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood, so that you or your evacuation routes are not cut off. Avoid driving into water of unknown depth. Moving water can quickly sweep your vehicle away.

Always keep children from playing in flooded areas.

Remember a Tropical Storm Watch or a Hurricane Watch mean those storms, respectively, may directly make impact within 48 hours.



hurricane destruction
Condos destroyed by Hurricane Ivan on Orange Beach.

Once a Hurricane Warning is issued, it means you should expect the wind or storm surge of a hurricane within 36 hours.

Secure or bring inside all lawn furniture and other outside objects that could become projectiles in high wind, or float away in flood water. Install your window shutters or plywood panels.

Listen for safety instructions from local officials.

Be prepared when the storm strikes to go to your designated “safe room”. Remember that there is little to no wind in the eye of a hurricane so that’s only the halfway point of the wind and rain. Do not leave your safe room until directed to do so by local officials, or until you are 100% certain the worst has passed.

Avoid using candles that may fall and cause a house fire.

Watch for debris, and for downed power lines that may still carry current, even after the storm.

Test drinking water for potability; wells should be pumped out and the water tested before drinking.

Do not eat fresh food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Wash canned goods that come in contact with floodwaters with soap and hot water.

Charge all rechargeable batteries for cell phones, flashlights, radios and other devices.

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