how to prepare for a hurricane

12 Ways To Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season begins in June and runs through the end of November. They’re the months when we worry most about flooding, high winds, lightning and power outages. Each year, hurricanes damage or destroy thousands of homes, and the people who lived in them have to figure out what happens next. You’re not completely powerless, however. Making sure you’ve physically prepared your home to handle whatever the storm brings can limit damages and ensure you, your family and your home have the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

1. Purchase or Set Up a Generator

Having a generator gives you the option of being able to power a few appliances or even an entire home.

  • Smaller generators—typically 3,000 to 5,000 watts—can power a number of corded appliances through multiple extension cords or a gen cord with multiple outlets.
  • Larger generators—typically 6,000 to 17,000 watts—are actually power transfer systems that can power entire circuits in your home, allowing you to use both corded and hard-wired appliances and systems like HVAC systems, for example. They feature a power transfer switch that lets you choose which circuits you wish to power.

    Related: Explore Generator Options

Small or large, generators require fuel—gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas or solar power, for example. Some models may give you the option of switching between several types of fuel.

2. Keep Gas Cans Filled

Once a hurricane hits, power outages, poor driving conditions, refinery shutdowns, supply line challenges and demand can make gasoline and other fuels precious and difficult-to-find commodities. Adding fuel stabilizer to gasoline can ensure your cans will be good to last the entire season.

3. Ensure that Grills and Camp Stoves Work

If the power goes out, you’ll still be able to boil water and cook food if you’re ready to camp. Fill or replace LP tanks—large and small. Sterno—jellied denatured alcohol in a can—can also be used for cooking or as a heat source.

4. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Running fuel-burning appliances or even backdrafts or leaks from fuel-burning sources can make carbon monoxide levels deadly. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, tasteless and highly toxic, so a working CO detector is a worthwhile investment.

Related: Shop Carbon Monoxide Detectors

5. Board Up Windows

The high winds of a hurricane make even small bits of flying debris a danger. A small hole or break in a window or glass door can compromise your entire home. If the break is on the high-pressure side, the hurricane can force massive amounts of air into your home, and the resulting high pressures can destroy it from the inside. A common issue is that the roof decking gives from the pressure inside and flies off. An alternative is to install impact-resistant hurricane shutters. They’re permanently secured and come in a variety of styles to complement a home’s architecture.

6. Secure Yard Items

Hurricane-grade winds start at 74 miles per hour—enough to snap large tree limbs and cause damage to power lines and poles. Items like lawn furniture, picnic tables, barbeque pits or grills, and even small items of garden décor can become flying debris delivering deadly impact. Items too heavy or large to bring inside should be secured with tie-downs.

7. Clear Roof Gutters and Drains

Gutters and drains are susceptible to not only leaf buildup but also bird nests and sticks, for example, that can block water flow, cause overflows and result in damaging water intrusion.

8. Fill Tubs and Containers with Clean Water

Flooding often results in water contamination, and water sources may become unsafe for drinking, cooking, bathing or even cleaning. Micro-organisms, bacteria, sewage, oils, chemicals, and industrial and agricultural waste can contaminate both municipal and well water sources and cause life-threatening illnesses. For potable water, you should maintain bottled reserves. A baseline is three gallons of water per person per day. Following flooding, wells should be tested. Homeowners may want to consider installing whole-home water treatment systems.

9. Fill and Set Up Sandbags

Sandbags can block and divert water from entryways and your foundation. They can also be used to divert water in a basement, for example, to protect appliances or systems. Some basic rules apply to sandbags:

  • Don’t fill them all the way. They need to be floppy so that they will mush together to form a solid barrier.
  • Ensure that openings are securely closed and fitted beneath adjoining sandbags.
  • Stagger bags as you build layers. The wall will be more stable, secure and able to resist water forces.

Traditional sandbags are usually made of burlap or plastic that you fill with coarse sand. Products are also available that are water-activated or water-filled and may be reusable.

10. Update Batteries, Flashlights, Lanterns, Emergency Lighting and Replacement Bulbs

Modern lanterns and emergency flashlights offer a host of features. Some are waterproof—even if submerged for several minutes. Some not only are rechargeable themselves but also can act as a power bank, offering the capability to recharge your phone, for example. Most boast tough construction, and some may even be collapsible space savers perfect for a possible evacuation. Additional options to consider are handles conducive to hanging the light, battery or charge life, lighting modes, beam ranges, and battery or charging requirements.

Related: Shop Emergency Lighting

11. Secure All Garage Doors

Like windows and man doors, garage doors should remain completely closed. Any glass panels should be protected to prevent breakage. Experts recommend unplugging automatic garage door openers and installing extra bracing and safety pins on the inside of the door, boarding up garage doors with wood on the outside, or using bracing poles or boards on the inside to lock the door and keep it in place. Cracking a garage door or leaving it unsecured can result in internal pressure that can damage or destroy a structure.

12. Consider Surge Protection Devices

surge protection devices, or even whole house surge protection systems, are meant to protect valuable appliances, HVAC equipment and electronics. Storms and power outages often come with power surges and spikes. Whether the cause is lightning, fluctuations in the power grid or spikes in your home, the bursts of electricity can destroy electrical components and equipment. Power strips can protect individual appliances. Whole-home surge protectors, as well as specialized protectors devoted to HVAC systems, are also worth consideration.

Get Started at Coburn’s Today

We all dread hurricanes, and the most infamous have names we remember—from Audrey in 1957 to Katrina in 2005, for example. Today, we have access to more ways of protecting our homes and families than ever before. If you’re looking for more ways to make your home hurricane-resistant, explore our website, or visit your nearest Coburn’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom. We’re here to make your home more beautiful, more comfortable and as safe as it possibly can be.