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Hurricanes develop from tropical storms that form over the warm ocean water. On average about six hurricanes form over the Atlantic every year, moving inland and causing varying amounts of damage. 2017 was a particularly bad year with ten Atlantic hurricanes recorded, six of them causing major damage in their wake. Hurricanes form in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.  The 1st June to the 30th November is the Atlantic hurricane season. The Pacific hurricane season starts around two weeks earlier.

Hurricanes create many dangerous conditions including strong winds, torrential downfalls, rip currents and floods. While tropical storms are less severe, they too can cause damage, so securing your home ahead of the storm season could save your property from damage caused by flooding and strong winds.

Prepare in Advance

Hurricane seasons are a concern for everybody that happens to live in the path of the storm, especially if your home is close to the coast. Fortunately, hurricanes are forecast days or weeks ahead, so we have plenty of time to prepare for them. Preparing your home in advance for the coming storm could save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Understand Your Insurance Cover

Check your insurance policy so that you know what it covers. Once a hurricane is imminent it too late to make any changes. Homeowners policies usually don’t cover flood damage, so you may need to take additional insurance before the next hurricane season. Find out whether or not your property falls into a flood zone. In this way, you can gauge the likelihood of flooding in your area.

Most insurance policies also do not cover wind damage. If you want your house covered for wind damage you may have to take out additional insurance.

Make Sure that Windows are Secure

If you have hurricane shutters on your windows. Check all of them. If any of them are broken or damaged get them replaced or repaired well ahead of time. If you don’t have hurricane shutters consider having them installed or replace the glass in your windows with hurricane glass.

If you don’t have either, you can board up your windows with marine ply to prevent the wind from breaking the glass. The boards must be at least 5/8 of an inch and should be cut to fit each of your windows. Use a heavier gauge to cover larger windows and glass doors.

The House

The structure of the house, the roof, windows, and doors are all that stops the elements from damaging your possessions.

  • Make sure that your gutters are all clear of debris. You must allow free flow of water to prevent pooling and roof leaks that can cause water damage to your home.
  • Install backwater valves in the plumbing to prevent backups.
  • Make structural repairs to the house if required.
  • Check all flashing, soffits and roof tiles are firmly in place.
  • Use hurricane straps to tie down the roof of your home.
  • Install bolts on the top and bottom of all external doors.
  • Secure your garage door as these are vulnerable during a storm. If the garage door fails it will allow the wind into your home. Bolt braces to the garage door to prevent this.
  • Lower your outdoor antennae.
  • Locate the gas, water and electricity switches on your property so that you can switch them off if required.
  • Also see the top 8 most flood-vulnerable areas in your home.

In the Garden

Ensure that there is nothing around your home that can become airborne and cause damage in high winds

  • Clear the garden of any debris.
  • Bring in any outdoor furniture, garden equipment, pot plants, and garbage cans.
  • Remove dead or damaged trees around your house or vehicle area.
  • Anchor objects such as gas tanks that you can’t bring into the house.
  • Empty 6 to 12 inches of water from your pool to make way for downpours.
  • Disconnect your pool pump

Anticipate Heavy Rain

In case of flooding you should

  • Move all valuables and important documents to upper floors in your home.
  • Test your sumps and drains to make sure that all are still in working order.
  • Check that your back up batteries still work.
  • You can try sandbagging doors to keep water out.
  • Make sure that all electronic equipment is unplugged on lower floors.
  • Unplug all electrical equipment if the electricity is kicked out as the electricity could surge on reconnecting.

A bit of planning and preparation prior to the tropical storm season could ensure that your priceless family heirlooms and personal treasures are secure. When all else fails insurance should be in place to help you to quickly recover.