Hurricanes, tropical storms, and other types of severe weather conditions can wreck havoc on a home or business, let alone an entire community. In the past few years, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans and in the last year the eastern seaboard was hit by Hurricane Irene. Since natural disasters are completely unavoidable, you can only prepare your home or business to a certain extent because no amount of preparation can stop a home or business from being damaged by wind or water. There are some things that you can do to help protect your assets and control the extent of the damage by securing the perimeter, preparing yourself, getting insurance, and meeting with your neighbors and business owners.
1. Prepare yourself
The first thing you must do is prepare yourself for the storm. Time is of the essence, especially if the storm will hit within a few days. Listen to the weather forecasts very carefully and take their warnings seriously because many have died thinking that nothing would happen. Create an emergency kit and get essential items like flashlights, batteries, cellphones, radios, blankets, maps, and a generator. Gather your important documents from around the house such as passports, licenses, as well as other legal and financial documents. Withdraw a significant amount of money from the bank or an ATM and keep lots of cash on hand.
2. Get flood insurance
If you own a house or business, then chances are that you already have homeowner's and business insurance. Most home owner's or business insurance policies do not usually cover flood or wind damage, so it may be necessary for you to purchase flood insurance or at the very least consult with your insurance agent to have your policy adjusted. Make sure that you do this before you leave because they will not cover any damages after the storm has hit. Insurance policies do not always cover everything, but they may be able to help you, especially if your house or buildings gets severely damaged during the storm.
3. Secure the yard, trees, and shrubbery
Before you start working on the inside of your home or business, secure the outside areas first because they can cause a lot of damage. Remove any type of lawn furniture, signage and accessories because they can become dislodged and possibly damage your your home or business. Put them inside of the house in the basement or attic for safekeeping. Check all of the trees and shrubbery and trim them if possible. Shrubs are not much of a threat, but it is better if they are short while the trees are a significant threat because branches can break off and damage your home or business location.
4. Clean the house or business and get organized
Clean the house or your business and get organized because it will easier to prepare yourself and evacuate if you do and it will even make things easier when you return after the storm. Being disorganized or messy during the preparation process can make it more difficult to get settled after the storm and cleaning can actually help you find the very things that you need. This will also help you identify the vulnerable areas and possibly secure them as well.
5. Secure the windows and doors
One of the most important things you can do to protect your house or business is to secure your windows and doors. There are number of ways to do it depending on your budget and your resources. You can buy permanent shutters for your windows, which are very effective , yet very expensive. There are custom made storm windows that are more secure, but once again they can be expensive and they can take a while to order. The option that most people take is to simply buy large pieces of plywood and nail them over all of the windows and doors. Plywood may be able to hold up in mild storms, but they will not do much in severe weather.
6. Check the roof and foundation
Having a secure roof and foundation can make a world of difference in a severe storm. Obviously, there will not be much that you can do to repair the roof or foundation given that most local repair companies probably will not be available right before the storm hits. Try to secure and repair any damaged roof shingles and try to install hurricane straps to secure the frame of the roof to the walls of the house.
7. Turn off the utilities
Turn off all of the utilities because the power, gas, and water will likely stop working anyway. This is especially important if you have any type of propane tank or volatile material in or around your house. None of the utilities will work if the area is severely damaged and leaving them on could actually make your house vulnerable to fires or even explosions in some cases.
8. Buy all supplies and tools ahead of time
Go to the hardware store right away because they will likely run low on supplies as the hurricane approaches. Purchase nails, hammers, screws, plywood, and other supplies as soon as possible because those are most of the basic items that you will need to secure your home or business location. It may also be wise to visit the grocery store to stock up on the personal supplies that you may need like a first aid kit, medicine, water, and food.
9. Consult with your neighbors
Talk to your neighbors or business around yours and organize the community. Try to help them secure their houses as well as yours because it will help reduce the amount of damage that the structures will sustain and hopefully reduce the amount of debris that will be left over in the community. Get them to secure their yards and board up their windows and doors as well. You can save a lot of time and money if you pool your resources and help each other. Local agencies may also be available to discuss the proper procedures with the community and hopefully get everyone on the same page.
10. Evacuate the area
Make every effort to leave the area well before the storm actually hits because leaving will be more difficult as the storm approaches. Many highways, airports, and even trains will become congested right before it hits, so it is wise to leave a few days earlier if possible. Call family members and tell them what your plans are and how to get in touch with you. Make arrangements for a hotel or travel accommodations once you have left the area.
Hurricanes and tropical storms are dangerous and unpredictable. Although there are numerous ways to prepare your home, buildings on your property, or business, there is no sure fire way to actually prevent damage or even be completely destroyed. There is no benefit to staying during the storm because you cannot protect your home or business on your own and the most important thing is that you are safe and well protected. The best thing you can do is get a good insurance policy, secure the windows and doors, shut off the utilities, and gather your belongings. Focus on your personal preparation and evacuation for the storm and then deal with securing your home or business if you still any time left before the storm hits.
This hurricane preparedness resource was prepared by BuildingsGuide.com, a leading online resource for metal and steel buildings, including research, resources, and in-depth articles.