Hurricanes Marco and Laura swept through the Gulf of Mexico just two days apart in August 2020. Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

Adequate planning and weatherproofing can offer peace of mind as storm season approaches

By Linda Williams

For those living in storm-prone areas, having the proper knowledge and resources to protect your home and family is critical. During hurricane season, seaside towns and cities are at risk of mass destruction, as storm surges, high tides, heavy rainfall, and flooding ravage even inland areas. However, there are numerous ways to keep yourself safe and sound during large storms if evacuating isn’t necessary.

Hunkering down and braving a storm can be stressful regardless of how prepared you are. However, taking the steps to prepare your home for high winds, massive rainfall, and possible flooding allows you to stay calm and brace yourself. As soon as news breaks of an upcoming hurricane, you should create a detailed emergency plan, noting community guidelines, pin-pointing a safe meeting place for your family, and building a preparation kit. In addition, secure your home’s exterior with tried-and-true weatherproofing techniques.

If you’re unsure which steps to take to prepare your home for hurricane season, read on for tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.

1. Purchase hurricane shutters

An essential purchase for anyone attempting to seal out harsh weather is hurricane shutters. Not only will they act as a barrier between you and windy rainfall, but they will also protect you from broken glass should your windows give into the storm’s power. Additionally, during the off-season, shutters add a unique touch to your home while saving you money by locking in heated and conditioned air.

2. Check for leaks

Before the storm hits, check your exterior walls, doors, and windows for cracks or leaks. Any opening—no matter how minuscule—can cause water to seep in, leading to flooding and extreme damage. Seal off exposures and check cable and pipe entry points before the storm is in full swing.

3. Trim foliage

If you have trees, shrubs, or protruding branches near your house, cut them down to avoid fall damage. High winds can send loose greenery soaring through windows and crashing down on top of roofs, so do your best to clear away any potential threats. Additionally, you should consider re-grading areas surrounding trees or large bushes, strengthening their root systems, allowing them to weather the storm with ease.

4. Clear away clutter

If you have lawn furniture, potted outdoor plants, or trash cans laying around, clean up and secure objects before the brunt of the storm. Loose items can cause damage as winds pick up unsecured belongings, sending them flying through the air. Additionally, clear out your gutters before heavy rainfall hits to dodge roof damage or flooding. Clogged drains send water over the top, breaking apart roofs and pooling water in unwanted areas.

5. Be prepared to shut off water, gas, and electricity

If you’ve lived in your home for an extended period, you likely know where the shutoffs for your water, gas, and electricity are. If you’re unsure where to find emergency switches, locate them before the storm hits to prepare if local officials advise complete shut-downs. Experiencing an electricity surge or pipe burst will be much less impactful if your central systems are turned off and prepped for the storm.

The bottom line

Bracing for a hurricane can be stressful regardless of how prepared you are. However, adequate planning and weatherproofing can offer peace of mind as storm season approaches.

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