How to prep for hurricane season

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(BPT) - Ahead of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has updated its Hurricane Ready guide, adding a downloadable checklist to make it easier for homeowners to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

Hurricane Ready translates years of insights from IBHS field and lab research into a series of projects homeowners can tackle ahead of the season, as well as last-minute actions to take when a storm nears. To ensure projects are completed by the start of hurricane season in June, it’s best to begin preparations now.

“We are now in a critical window ahead of hurricane season for homeowners to complete projects to strengthen their homes and ensure they are better protected against high winds and heavy rain before a tropical system hits,” explains Dr. Anne Cope, chief engineer at IBHS. “The entire hurricane coast felt the impact of an active 2020 hurricane season, and many families are still displaced from damaged homes or dealing with costly repairs. That’s an important reminder of why giving your home the best opportunity to withstand a storm is so important.”

Hurricane Ready provides recommendations for several projects to strengthen your home against tropical weather and help you recover faster after the storm passes. Those include:

Reviewing your insurance policy

Before hurricane season, get in touch with your home insurance provider to confirm what is and isn't covered under your policy and determine if your area is at high risk for storm damage. Use your phone to capture photos and video of the contents of your home and the exterior.

Inspecting your roof

IBHS researchers recommend prioritizing a roof inspection because roof repairs may take longer than other projects and require professional assistance. The roof is also your first line of defense against severe weather, so it is critical that it is in good condition before a storm. Homes along the hurricane coast and inland areas that may experience high winds should be re-roofed to the FORTIFIED Roof™ standard. This roofing method has shown in lab studies and real-world events to provide much-needed protection against winds up to 130 mph. To help keep the roof on, it includes stronger connections, and more of them, locked down edges, and it requires that seams in the roof deck are sealed so that even if shingles blow off, water won't get inside the home and result in extensive damage and costly repairs.

Trimming trees

Healthy native trees are beneficial, but high winds can rip off weak branches, which become dangerous flying projectiles that can damage your home and property. To avoid this, it’s crucial to remove branches that hang over your home, and if you have any diseased, dying or dead trees, these should be removed.

Resolving leaks

If you already have existing leaks in your home, the damage from those could be exacerbated by a severe storm like a hurricane, resulting in high repair costs. To resolve these leak problems and prevent further damage, you can:

  • Install flashing around skylights to keep water from leaking into your home.
  • Remove and replace the flashing and ice/water barriers from your chimney.
  • Have leaky flashing removed or replaced.
  • Remove and replace leaky valley metal on your roof.

Installing wind-rated garage doors

Hurricane winds can push your garage door inward, allowing pressure to build and push up on the roof and surrounding walls causing a cascade of structural damage to the entire home. A wind-rated garage door with a code-conforming label confirming it has been tested to withstand likely storm pressures is a strong investment in the resilience of your home. If getting a replacement isn’t possible before storm season, you can temporarily reinforce your garage door with a brace to minimize the likelihood of damage.

Getting a whole home generator

Hurricanes are notorious for knocking out power sometimes for extended periods of time. A whole home generator can be a good investment to keep your power on and ease the aftermath of a storm.

Investing in hurricane shutters

Like garage doors, your windows are also vulnerable to powerful hurricane winds. Choose and install code-conforming hurricane shutters to cover your windows and best protect against high winds. While many people choose to cover windows with plywood, this method offers less protection and should only be used as a last resort when hurricane shutters are not an option.

You can find more information on the best protection for these vulnerable parts of your home in the IBHS Opening Protection Guide.

Get a head start on your hurricane season prep

The Hurricane Ready guide also includes small but important last-minute actions to take when a tropical system nears. Those include bringing in loose items from the yard or patio, like outdoor furniture, grills, and recreational gear, and closing all interior doors before evacuating.

“The larger investments, like installing a FORTIFIED Roof or a wind-rated garage door, are improvements that will better prepare your family for many hurricane seasons to come, while others, like trimming trees, are ongoing maintenance projects that must be refreshed often,” adds Cope.

The downloadable checklist helps homeowners more easily schedule and keep track of tasks to complete all preparations. The checklist and Hurricane Ready guide are available at disastersafety.org/hurricaneready. The companion Hurricane Ready—Business guide, also found on disastersafety.org, is available for small business owners to guide preparations unique to commercial properties and business operations.

About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more about IBHS at DisasterSafety.org.

About FORTIFIED Home

Please visit fortifiedhome.org to learn more about the IBHS FORTIFIED Home program, including the designation process, how to identify a certified FORTIFIED evaluator and other valuable resources.