In the Northeast, hurricane season runs for about six months, usually going from the start of June through the end of November, peaking near September. Being prepared for the storm season is essential. By making smart choices, you can protect yourself and your home, decreasing the odds of harm or damage.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips to prepare your home for a hurricane, along with some insights on what to do before, during, and after a storm.
10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season
1. Build a Storm Kit
A storm kit is a container that holds items you may need to live for a 48-to-72-hour period. After a storm, utilities may be off, stores might not open, and other issues can arise. A storm kit is a centralized place for items you may need after the hurricane, ensuring you have necessities even if major services aren’t available.
Some of the items you want to pack include:
- Three-days of water
- Two-days of food
- Change of clothing
- Extra socks
- Garbage bags
- Storm radio
- Emergency whistle
- Prescription medications
- First-aid supplies
Take your household’s needs into account as you create the kit. Additionally, try to find a water-tight container for the kit, ensuring the contents aren’t damaged by stormwater during a hurricane.
2. Review the Evacuation Plan
Before a hurricane strikes, review local evacuation plans. Many states and municipalities create evacuation maps in advance, so you can check the prepared routes before the storm arrives. Usually, these include roadways that the city or county can keep open with the greatest ease or that support the most traffic, so the paths typically reflect the highest priority streets and highways.
However, you may also want to create your own exit strategy as you prepare for storm season. Consider alternative routes that may be available, saving copies of them in case you need them before, during, or after the storm.
3. Find Your Utility Shutoffs
Knowing how to shut off your electricity, water, and gas is essential before storm season. That way, you can turn off your services before the storm arrives, decreasing the odds of certain safety hazards that could otherwise occur.
Additionally, have a plan for unplugging all of your electrical appliances and devices. If the power goes out, the surge that can occur when it comes back can cause damage, so it’s best to unplug as many items as possible.
4. Get Risers for Your Furniture
Being able to elevate your furniture off of the ground could prevent damage. For any furniture that has traditional legs and feet, simple plastic risers could give you extra inches of elevation. Then, if just a bit of water comes in, your furniture won’t contact it.
If you have more time before a storm and live in a two-story property, bringing as many items as possible upstairs can also be wise. Just be aware that it can take a lot of time and effort to move large furniture. If you go that route, begin the process well in advance to ensure you can complete it in time.
5. Replace the Batteries in Your Carbon Monoxide Detector
During an emergency, you may turn to generators, grills, camp stoves, and other items to prepare food, stay warm, and power your home. Each of those items can produce carbon monoxide, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
Make sure you replace your carbon monoxide detector batteries before storm season. Additionally, check your carbon monoxide detector’s position to make sure it’s in the right place. Carbon monoxide doesn’t rise the same way as smoke and heat from a fire, so putting one on your ceiling isn’t ideal. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions to see how far off the ground you should place yours.
6. Protect Your Windows and Doors
Preparing windows for a hurricane can require some advanced planning. If you have ample time, you may want to install storm shutters. With those, you’ll have a protective layer that you can quickly put into place, simplifying your pre-hurricane preparations.
Otherwise, you may need to find alternatives for your window. For example, plywood screwed into place over your windows can work. However, you’ll want to get the material well before a storm is on the way. If you don’t, you may have trouble getting the plywood you need, as more people will be out buying it.
Plywood can also assist with doors. You might also want sandbags or similar items to place at the base of your exterior doorways. That can help prevent water from seeping in, giving you a bit more time before it gets inside and causes damage.
7. Contain Your Lawn Items
Outdoor furnishings, lawn equipment, barbecue grills, and similar items are at risk of being damaged or swept away during a hurricane. Additionally, if winds are high, some pieces may turn into projectiles, leading them to cause damage to nearby people, pets, or property.
Before the storm arrives, get all outdoor items into a secure indoor space if possible. If that isn’t an option, anchor them in place.
8. Generator and Fuel
Getting a generator and fuel could be a wise move as you start preparing your house for a hurricane. A generator can give you a source of electricity should the power grid go offline for a period. You could keep your fridge cold, charge phones, and handle other basics until your electricity is restored.
Most generators run off of gasoline, so you’ll want to have a solid supply before hurricane season begins. Exactly how much you’ll need depends on the generator’s capacity. Review the user guide for more details about the fuel requirements.
9. Think About Your Pets
Preparing pets for a hurricane also requires some effort. You’ll want to create an emergency kit for them ensuring you’ll have enough food, water, and medication based on their needs.
Adding a pet emergency sticker to your door is also smart, as that lets first responders know a pet might be present. Getting them microchipped is also essential, as that increases the odds that you can get them back if you get separated.
10. Get Hurricane Insurance
When it comes to what to do before a hurricane, updating your insurance might be one of your most important tasks. Most basic homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover hurricanes. If you don’t have separate hurricane, wind, or flood coverage, sign up before storm season arrives. That way, if the worst does happen, you’ll have a policy that addresses the damage.
Bonus Tip: Have a Family Hurricane Preparedness Plan
While you usually get a decent amount of warning that a hurricane is on its way, once the storm hits, chaos can ensue.
Ideally, families should create hurricane preparedness plans that address certain scenarios. You want to outline where in the house provides the best shelter and make sure that must-gather items are in accessible places. Even divvying out preparation tasks ahead of a storm is wise, as it makes it easier for everyone to spring into action when a hurricane is coming.
Additionally, sit down with your family to create a plan about what to do if you become separated during the storm. This can include contacting specific relatives to let them know where you are, picking a post-storm meeting place, or other steps that help you come back together.
What to Do After a Hurricane Hits
After the hurricane hits, keep listening to weather reports and updates from local authorities. If you evacuated, don’t return home until officials say that doing so is safe.
When it comes to what to do after a hurricane, insurance is part of the equation. Even if you know nothing about the extent of the damage, contacting your insurer lets them know that a storm occurred. Usually, insurance providers have to send out an adjuster before they provide any funds for repairs. By getting ahold of your insurer as soon as possible, you’ll be further up on the list.
Mold after a hurricane can be a big issue. Once floodwaters recede, another of the things to do after a hurricane is to take steps to dry out your home quickly. In some cases, your insurer or repair contractor can assist by providing dehumidifiers. If that isn’t an option, use fans to enhance air circulation and heaters to dry the air.
As you clean up after a hurricane, be cautious. Broken items and debris can be hazards. Structures might be unstable, making them susceptible to sudden collapse. Additionally, local wildlife may make homes in damaged buildings.
By being careful and diligent, you can start the cleanup process. However, if any part of your property is deemed unsafe, don’t enter those areas. In the end, safety always needs to come first. By making that your priority, you can move toward recovery without any extra risk.