Homeowners who have recently moved to the gulf coast area may not yet be aware of the history of tropical storms and hurricanes in their particular area. It’s important to know the risk. Good sources of historical information are the local American Red Cross chapter and emergency management office.
Things to do Before the Threat of Natural Disaster
First, assess the replacement value of the home, not the market value. This will determine the amount of homeowners insurance needed. Update the policy if needed. In addition, flood insurance should be purchased if the property is in the flood plain or close enough to the coast to be affected by storm surge. A policy may be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Take time to assemble a disaster emergency kit. This should include standard first aid medical supplies, candles, matches, a flashlight, and a stock of batteries. It’s also a good idea to invest in a Leatherman multi-tool and a camping stove and lantern. Set in a stock of canned food and bottled water. A weather radio with a hand crank will help to stay up with changing weather conditions.
Things to do When a Hurricane is Threatening
The windows must be protected with storm shutters or plywood. Metal storm shutters are best, but more expensive. Roll-up motorized ones are the most convenient, especially for second story windows. If plywood is used, Plylox hurricane window clips make the job easy. Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping at the home improvement store.
The gable ends of the roof should be properly braced to prevent collapse during high winds. This is usually done during construction to conform to the building code, but it doesn’t hurt to check. Hurricane straps offer an added degree of roof protection. These galvanized straps secure the roof trusses to the exterior walls.
Garage doors are often overlooked during disaster preparation. It’s important that they’re secure because if not, the storm may enter the home through the garage. If the doors are wood, inspect them for rot and repair as needed.
Although not a strict requirement, it’s nice to have an emergency back-up generator with plenty of fuel. When the power goes out, it sometimes takes weeks to restore it. Be sure to secure trash cans, patio furniture, and anything else that may blow around. One of the last things to do is fill your largest ice chest with ice. Finally, be sure to have a good supply of any prescription medications.