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How to Protect Your Home From Hurricanes
by Ruby Bayan

Protect your home from hurricanes. In the United States, the six months from June to November are collectively called the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Homeowners in the eastern coastal region are most affected because tropical storms blow in from the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Lashing winds and torrential rain can last for weeks, causing tremendous damage to your precious home; but you can protect your property from a potentially catastrophic hurricane by taking precautions even before a storm watch is announced.

Step 1: Involve everyone in the household.

What you'll need:

Sketch of the house and surroundings
Flashlights and batteries

What to do:

1. Show all the members of the family how and where to shut-off the water, electricity, and gas.

2. Discuss which areas of the house are the safest (usually the centermost bathroom) and the most dangerous (next to glass windows), and what items need to be relocated and protected from storm damage (for example, electronics or area rugs that could potentially get soaked). A sketch of the house and surroundings would be helpful.

3. Conduct a "hurricane safety" drill with the members of the family. This is best done at night, simulating a power outage, where everyone grabs a flashlight and goes through the motions of securing the home and each other.

4. Teach everyone how and when to call 911, the fire department, and the police.

Protect your home from hurricanes

Step 2: Prep your home before the hurricane season.

What you'll need:

Flashlight
Plywood, hurricane shutters or storm panels
Plant trimmer
Home insurance

What to do:

1. Inspect your home for weak spots in the doors, windows and skylights. Have professionals inspect your roof and garage door, which are the most vulnerable areas of the house. Repair or reinforce promptly.

2. Check rain gutters and downspouts. Secure if loose, and clear out any clogged debris.

3. Trim nearby trees and shrubs to remove dead or weak branches that could break and smash into the house during a storm.

4. Purchase plywood, storm panels or hurricane shutters. Be sure they are sized to fit, and pre-drill attachment holes for fast and easy installation.

5. Ensure that you and your house and property are adequately insured against hurricane and flood damage.

Helpful Tips:

1. Consider investing in hurricane-resistant double-pane windows.
2. Keep irreplaceable personal items in waterproof containers or be ready to take them with you if you need to evacuate.

Step 3: Secure your home when a storm watch is announced.

What you'll need:

Adhesive tape or window film
Rope or other tie-down material
Care package

What to do:

1. Fuel all vehicles. Park them where they will be safe and available for emergencies.

2. Protect or reinforce glass windows with adhesive tape or adhesive film that can hold together shattered glass.

3. Bring in all outdoor furniture, toys and garden tools. Take down outside antennas and satellite dishes.

4. Anchor trailers and furniture that cannot be brought indoors.

5. Board up and listen to the news.

Helpful Tips:

1. If flooding is expected, elevate furniture and appliances or move them to a higher floor.
2. If evacuation is ordered, unplug all appliances, turn off the electricity, water and gas, lock up and leave.
3. Prepare a "care package" or "survival kit" of food, supplies, medication, clothing and blankets in case you need to leave your home

Caution:

Adhesive tape on windows will not prevent the glass from breaking. All it will do is hold some of the shattered glass together, hopefully keeping dangerous shards from floors and furniture.

References:

Weather.gov Hurricane Awareness
Weather.com Safeside
FEMA Hurricane


Contributed to eHow.com by Ruby Bayan, Home & Garden Topic Expert 2007-2010

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