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Hurricane Season: How to Prepare Your Home According to FEMA

Hurricane Season: How to Prepare Your Home According to FEMA

Get your home ready for possible hurricanes

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Hurricane season does not start until the beginning of June, but savvy homeowners should already be thinking about it. In order for you, your family and your home to be prepared, it is important that you get things ready before the hurricane season is in full effect. Here is how you can ready your home for hurricane season so that your family and your home stay safe.

Plan an evacuation route

Plan an evacuation route

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Have a discussion with your family or anyone that is staying in your home and make sure that everyone knows what to do in case a hurricane is imminent. Determine safe places where you could stay in case you were asked to evacuate and make sure everyone knows how to get there.

Emergency shelter location

Emergency shelter location

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If you do not have time to evacuate, discuss or determine where you will take shelter from the hurricane in or around your home. If you don’t have a storm cellar or basement, look for rooms in your home with few doors or few or no windows, such as closets.

Practice

Practice

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Practice your planned evacuation route before hurricane season arrives so that if and when a hurricane is coming, you and your family know what to do and where to go. Phone service may be unavailable during a storm, so it’s important to know plans ahead of time in case you and your family aren’t together during an emergency situation.

Buy flood insurance

Buy flood insurance

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Most home insurance does not cover the expensive damage that comes from flooding due to a hurricane. According to FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program policies become effective 30 days after the date of purchase, so homeowners should purchase one in advance to make sure they are covered.

Stock up on emergency supplies

Stock up on emergency supplies

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If a hurricane is coming, you will not have the time to gather supplies while you are also trying to evacuate or shelter. Make an emergency kit that includes water, food with a long shelf life, medications, a first-aid kit, batteries, a flashlight and other necessary supplies, so that you’re prepared in advance.

Install sewer backflow valves

Install sewer backflow valves

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FEMA recommends that homeowners install sewer backflow valves to help avoid hurricane damage. These devices prevent floodwater from backing up into your drains from hurricanes or other devastating storms.

Install anchoring fuel tanks

Install anchoring fuel tanks

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Another FEMA-recommended way to protect your home is to install anchoring fuel tanks. High waters can dislodge unanchored heating oil and propane fuel tanks, causing spills and property damage. If the tank is floating in water, it can basically become a battering ram and cause even further damage.

Replace gravel

Replace gravel

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Gravel and other rock landscaping materials can cause damage to your home during a hurricane. Replace it with shredded bark, which is much lighter and will not cause as much damage.

Take an inventory of personal property

Take an inventory of personal property

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Take an inventory of items and furniture in your home. This will help ensure that you have enough insurance for these items in your home as well as give you an adequate list should you need to check items for damage as well as make claims to repair or replace them after a storm. If you need to evacuate your home because of a hurricane, make sure to not forget the inventory of your property.

Collect critical documents

Collect critical documents

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Having your important documents all in one safe place will help you get your recovery process started quickly in the event of a hurricane. Keep important documents in a fireproof and waterproof box or safe close to your emergency kit. Important documents to have include birth certificates, passports, social security cards and other personal documents, insurance policies, and your deed, mortgage and loan papers.

Sign up for alerts

Sign up for alerts

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Signing up for local alerts and warnings will keep you aware of the weather going on in your area. It is also important to monitor your local news and weather reports during hurricane season.

Clean gutters and downspouts

Clean gutters and downspouts

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Leaves, twigs and any other debris can clog your gutter and downspouts. This will prevent the rainwater that comes before or after a hurricane from properly draining away from your home. If the gutters are too high on a ladder or you are not experienced, this might be one of those maintenance projects you shouldn’t do yourself.

Trim trees and shrubbery

Trim trees and shrubbery

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During hurricane season, trees and shrubbery could fall on your house and cause even more damage than the wind and rain. Make sure that you keep your shrubs and trees trimmed, a maintenance project you can do yourself with the right tools.

Clean clutter

Clean clutter

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Prevent items from flying all over the place in your home by cleaning up any excess clutter. It is best to get rid of items you are no longer using, especially those that can become a projectile during a hurricane or storm. Lightweight outdoor items should be brought inside. Controlling the clutter in your home can also save you money on cleaning supplies.

Prepare for long outages

Prepare for long outages

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Along with stocking up on supplies, you should also prepare for potential long power outages. Consider getting a generator. During a hurricane or natural disaster, electricity in your home can go out. A generator will ensure that you will still have a source of power in your home for essentials.

Hurricane-proof exterior doors

Hurricane-proof exterior doors

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If your doors are not hurricane-proof, they need to be. Have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock that is at least 1-inch long to keep your door up and stable during a hurricane.

Install storm shutters

Install storm shutters

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Getting storm shutters installed will protect the windows in your home from breakage. You can also fit plywood panels to your windows. When a storm is approaching, they’ll be ready for you to nail them to your window frames.

Install tempered glass doors

Install tempered glass doors

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Sliding doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than other doors in your home. Sliding doors that are made of tempered glass, however, can better withstand wind damage, so consider replacing your doors ahead of hurricane season.

Replace old garage doors and tracks

Replace old garage doors and tracks

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Before hurricane season arrives, replace your garage door with one that is approved for wind pressure and impact protection. The garage door is often the largest door in your home and wind that is coming through a garage door can cause a lot of damage to not only your garage but also the rest of your home, especially your roof.

Seal outside wall openings

Seal outside wall openings

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Vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and other places in your home where cables and pipes go through your wall need to be sealed. Using a urethane-based caulk is a good option for preventing water from penetrating your home. While preparing for hurricane season, it’s important to also take care of projects around the house on your spring home maintenance checklist.

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