Preparing your Home for Hurricane Season– It’s a long list but these things will make your life easier.
Thanks to the National Hurricane Center for many of these tips.
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. Saving them as digital files is helpful too.
Take pictures of the total interior and exterior of your home. Use the panorama feature of your camera or phone.
Scan important paper documents to digital files, or just take digital pictures of them. Keep a copy of all critical digital files in a safe deposit box or with someone you trust, or in “the cloud”.
Back up your computer and cell phone regularly. Keep important documents on your phone or on a portable flash drive that you can carry, should you have to evacuate. Use password protection.
Check your insurance coverage since flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. National Flood Insurance Program http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
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) http://www.disastersafety.org
Purchase commercial shutters or prepare 5/8 inch plywood panels for all window openings. Store plywood flat so that it doesn’t warp.
Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio and program it for your county and the type of alerts you want or don’t want.
Have a small portable battery-powered digital TV and a battery-powered AM/FM radio.
Install our free News 5 weather app and our news app, and get a streaming radio app for your smart phone.
Reinforce 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 food, 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.
Keep a can of spray paint to use for numbering plywood. In the worst case, spray paint can be used for marking your property for insurance purposes after devastation.
Ensure that landscaping and trees do not become a wind hazard. Rock and gravel can blow in high wind. Tall trees close to your home may fall. Trim the dead, weak, or dangerous overhanging branches from all trees.
Keep gutters clean and downspouts clear.
Check straps, tie-downs and anchors for mobile homes. 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.
In flood-prone neighborhoods, store important photos and documents in a watertight container, off of the floor or in the attic.
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.
Develop a plan for family with special needs, especially those who have difficulty moving around or those who need daily assistance.
Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. Check with your county EMA. Have a pet carrier, leash, and muzzle available. Ensure pets are up-to-date on vaccinations and that pets have collars and tags.
Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911. If you have a landline, make sure one phone has a wire to the wall jack and does not require batteries.
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 EMA 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.
Even before a Watch is issued, if a storm is in the Gulf or looks like it might arrive here, gas your vehicles and get cash to have on hand. Do any little thing you can do that you’d end up doing later if no storm arrives. Get ahead of the crowds. Pay your bills that are pending to avoid delays and inconvenience.
When a Watch is issued, storm effects are possible within 48 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. Prepare to install your window shutters or plywood panels.
Listen for safety instructions from local officials, and follow the forecast updates.
Charge all rechargeable batteries for cell phones, flashlights, radios and other devices.
Moor or store your boat.
Listen to all warnings for rip currents which become common and stronger with approaching tropical weather. Stay out of the water.
Once a Hurricane Warning is issued, it means you should expect the wind or storm surge of a hurricane within 36 hours.
Complete the installation of your shutters or window coverings.
Fill bath tubs and jugs with water to be used for flushing or cleaning in case of loss of water service.
Turn refrigerator and freezer to maximum cold and limit opening their doors.
Put vehicles in garage and back them up to the garage door to further brace the door.
Limit alcohol use to remain able to rapidly respond to changes, which might include evacuation.
Be prepared when the storm strikes to go to your designated “safe room”. Remember that there is little or 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.
While newer high-rise condos are built to stringent wind standards, the wind at higher floors will be stronger than it will be on lower floors. Stay with a friend on a lower floor if you are not evacuating.
Turn off and unplug unused large or expensive appliances so they won’t get a damaging surge of electricity if power fluctuates or is lost and then restored.
In the midst of a hurricane or even a tropical storm, do not expect any emergency response due to the dangers of anyone traveling.
Limit cell phone use to only what is necessary.