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How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey tore through the Houston and southeast Texas area. The damage, totaling around $125 billion, was primarily from rainfall-induced flooding. That same year, Hurricane Irma hit the southeast coast of the U.S. causing damage up to $200 billion. Hurricanes are the most destructive natural disasters in the United States. While there isn’t much you can do to avoid them, you can take steps to prepare and drastically reduce the damage.

Before the Hurricane

While it can be difficult to completely protect your home and valuables from a hurricane, you can make a positive impact on the outcome by preparing your home and your family ahead of time. Here’s how.

Educate Yourself and Have a Plan

hurricane - hurricane evacuation route street signThankfully, most hurricanes come with a warning. Its path, however, can change, catching you off guard if you’re not prepared. Even if the storm isn’t forecasted for your particular location, taking precautions and preparing for the worst could save your life. Learn your area’s flooding risk and community hurricane evacuation routes. Then, create a family evacuation plan. Determine a meeting place for your family and the routes it will take to get there. Plan how to get in touch if you’re separated, and where you’ll go if you are forced to evacuate. If you own a business, be sure to set up a business continuity plan to help you operate and recover faster.

Review Your Insurance Policy

Before the storm hits, be sure to review your insurance coverage. Regular homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage caused by natural disasters. If you don’t have flood insurance, now’s a good time to consider adding it to your existing policy. It could be the difference between a month or two of repairs and a total loss. Don’t forget to take photos and video of your belongings and the interior and exterior of your home in case you need to file a claim.

Protect Your Belongings

Store copies of important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, and proof of ownership on any and all properties you own in a water-safe container. Back up the data on your electronic devices to ensure it’s secure in case your computer or other devices are damaged during the hurricane.

Secure Your Property

Damage to your home from a hurricane could be catastrophic. Before it strikes, take some time to protect your property.

hurricane - person cleaning out gutterRoof & Gutters

Secure your roof with straps or clips to increase its strength. Secure loose shingles and seal the area around your home’s chimney and vent pipes to help keep water out. Check your roof for any already existing cracks or leaks that could let water in or cause problems with heavy rainfall. Maintain your rain gutters and downspouts, cleaning them regularly to prevent clogs. Make sure your gutters are strong and in good condition. When heavy rain starts to fall, clogged and sagging gutters could cause major water damage to your home.

Trees, Shrubs and Outdoor Furniture

Prune shrubs and other landscaping in your yard for more wind resistance. Trim any dead or weak tree branches that could break and cause damage to your home. Pick up loose branches, and replace any loose rocks or stones with bark or soil. Your yard may be home to objects that could easily become flying projectiles in high winds. Secure anything that could be swept up by wind or water such as potted plants, outdoor furniture, grills, and dog houses. A good rule of thumb: if it can’t be tied down, it’s best to bring it inside.

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Strong winds can shatter your windows, leaving the interior of your home vulnerable and in poor condition. Contrary to popular belief, taping your windows doesn’t actually prevent the glass from breaking, especially in a storm as strong as a hurricane. Install and secure storm shutters made from steel, aluminum, or plywood that cover the entirety of the glass.

hurricane -- a garage to be prepared for a stormGarage

Reinforce your garage door to help it withstand powerful wind gusts. Use a brace kit rated for storm and hurricane-level winds, or install a metal post system, metal panels, or plywood. If possible, move your vehicles into your garage to help protect them from getting swept up by heavy winds and forceful tides.

Appliances and Power Outages

It’s best to unplug all electrical devices during a powerful storm to keep them from getting damaged. But it’s also wise to purchase a surge protector. A backup generator can be helpful as well, running essential appliances in a power outage.

Here are a few more hurricane preparation tips to help protect you and your home:

  • Learn how and where to shut off the power and gas to your home.
  • Use caulking to waterproof your home and reinforce vulnerable areas. Caulk around the edges of your house, around your windows and doors, and around your chimney and any roof penetrations.
  • Move your valuables to a higher floor to help protect them from floodwaters. If you live in a single story home, raise them off of the floor with concrete blocks or bricks.
  • Insulate the exterior first-floor walls with rigid foam or plastic sheeting to keep silt from getting in.
  • Create an emergency kit that includes provisions for at least three days. Be sure to include things like food, water, first aid supplies, prescriptions, and pet supplies.

When a storm is hours from arriving:

  • Pile up sandbags at least 2 feet high to barricade your home from floodwaters. If you don’t have sandbags, a heavy-duty garbage bag filled one-third of the way with water can be used in a pinch.hurricane -- people putting sandbags in front of their home
  • Ensure that your car is in good working condition and fill up the gas tank. You should always be prepared to evacuate, so be sure to stock your vehicle with emergency supplies.
  • Bring lightweight objects, such as patio furniture, indoors. These could easily be blown away by high wind or swept up in floodwaters. If an object such as a propane tank is unsafe to bring inside, anchor it down.
  • Cover your windows with permanent storm shutters or board them up with 5/8-inch exterior-grade or marine plywood.
  • Charge your cell phone to have a full battery if the power goes out.
  • Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting so that food lasts longer during a power outage.
  • Be alert for the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Learn More: How to Identify Home Flooding Hazards

During the Hurricane

  • If authorities advise or order you to evacuate your area, don’t wait. Take your emergency kit and leave immediately. Strictly follow posted evacuation routes and do not try to take shortcuts.
  • If you didn’t receive an evacuation notice, stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors. Seek shelter on the lowest level in an interior room.
  • Never use gasoline-powered or charcoal-burning devices inside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep those devices outside.
  • If you’re trapped in a building that’s flooding, go to the highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic or closet as rising floodwater may trap you.

After the Hurricane

spring storms - flood on street with stranded carsThe moments after a hurricane hits your home are crucial. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
  • Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through water. Just 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and 1 foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Floodwater may also contain contaminants, dangerous debris, or downed power lines.
  • Entering a damaged building after a hurricane is extremely dangerous. Be mindful of safety hazards. Enter only after the electrical system, gas lines, and plumbing have been turned off and inspected for damage.
  • Take photos of any property damage and contact your insurance company for assistance. Wear protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and masks when inspecting your home.
  • Don’t touch wet electrical equipment, especially if you’re standing in water.
  • Throw out food that has been exposed to floodwaters or has not been kept at a proper temperature. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.
  • Don’t drink tap water if you’re not sure it’s safe.

Learn More: 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions After a Hurricane

We Can Help!

The damage left in the wake of a hurricane is often catastrophic and debilitating. Unfortunately, living conditions can be extremely unhealthy and unsafe. That’s where we come in. At PuroClean, we offer various services including demolition of the damaged and affected areas, overall drying of the structure and treatment to deter mold growth. After a flooding incident, everything that was touched by floodwaters has to be dried, cleaned and disinfected immediately. This is usually the case for carpet and flooring, as well as some drywall. Most of the cleaning products available from your local hardware store will not adequately sanitize your home’s materials for reconstruction.

Learn More: Home Flood Recovery: Tips to Save Your Home After a Major Flood

At PuroClean, we have the supplies and experience to get the job done right, getting your life as back to normal as possible as quickly as possible. Our goal is to provide the highest level of service at a price within industry standards and insurance guidelines. We’re here to help.

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