Hurricane preparedness is all we can control, as nature is in charge of the weather. As we seem to be having more unusual weather patterns, we need to put our hurricane emergency preparedness checklist in place, so we will be safe in the future.
The Damage Hurricanes Can Bring
The Red Cross describes a hurricane situation as a threat within 48 hours, which can be lifted to a hurricane warning for storms expected within 36 hours - leaving you just enough time to finish your storm preparations and leave the area if directed by authorities.
The type of damage we need to prepare for really depends on the strength of a hurricane, and how long the storm sits over your home.
• New building codes have been written to improve hurricane protection, i.e. to withstand high winds that can rip a roof off or blow out windows.
• It's universal to plank up windows to lessen damage from falling trees and flying debris.
• Flooding is the common hurricane damage as we learned with Hurricane Katrina, although other storms have had much higher winds.
• Extended power outages are another problem that arise from hurricanes and other storms. Where homeowners don't have a generator, drinking water is unavailable and you'll lose much of the food in the refrigerator.
Hurricane Preparedness Checklist
Here's a checklist to help you get prepared for the next hurricane:
Preparing your family for emergencies
Family safety should be your top priority, so make sure you discuss your plans periodically with all family members so they know what to do if you need to prepare your home for hurricanes or evacuate.
• Check your emergency kit and make sure it's packed, ready to go. You should have fresh batteries and a battery powered radio.
• Organize an evacuation kit for important papers, insurance documents, medications and other things you might need if you have to leave your home for several days.
• Stock up enough water to last for 3 days for your family, which requires 3 gallons per person, per day.
• Move furniture for safety - beds should be away from windows; secure or move mirrors and heavy pictures away from places where people sit; heavy items on lower shelves in case they fall; check safety bars for emergency releases; flashlights under every family members bed.
Ways to prepare your home for emergencies
According to The National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on preparing for disasters, saves a country roughly $4. The question is what can you do to minimize damage from any type of storm with high winds and wind-driven rain?
• Seal gaps in your homes envelope with caulking. Start with doors (entry, sliding glass and garage) and windows, then holes and gaps around pipes and wires going into your home. Shutters or plywood will also help protect windows.
• Clear gutters, downspouts and drains to move away rain water quickly from your home.
• Your roof must be in good repair, including flashing and caulking around anything penetrating the roof. Use a high-wind product when replacing your roof, if you live in a location prone to hurricanes.
• Make sure exterior features like gutters, fascia, soffits, gable vents, decks, porches and house trim are securely attached.
• Trim any tree limbs at risk of breaking in high winds.
• Put away garbage cans, lawn furniture and all loose items that are normally stored outside.
• To prevent water damage to your furniture, appliances and electronics, move them off the basement or first floor. Roll up area rugs and carpeting where possible.
• Make sure that your sump pumps and generators operate when needed, so check it regularly. Make sure you've got extra gas and batteries if needed.
• Before you leave your home, shut off electrical service at the main breaker in case the electrical system or outlets will be under water.
• Locate and shut off the gas (main coming into house, tank, etc) and make sure everyone knows how to turn them off.
Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today's lifestyles. Through the library and directory at www.HomeTips4Women.com, you can LEARN more about how to maintain and repair your home and more.