Protecting Yourself and Your Home Before, During, and After a Hurricane

Monday, July 27, 2015

Another hurricane season lies just around the corner. And if you're like most Florida residents, you've probably worried a little about the impending storms. Between driving rains and forceful winds, hurricanes have the potential to destroy homes, commercial buildings, and entire cities.

To help you and your home weather the storms, we put together the following list of actions you should take before, during, and aft er a hurricane. Whether you're new to Florida or have lived here your whole life, you'll benefit from these safety tips.

Before a Hurricane

The news of a hurricane hurtling toward your home often seems alarming. Fortunately, preparing for a storm won't prove nearly as stressful.

  • Prepare an emergency kit. This kit should contain basic items you'd need to survive off the grid for 72 hours. Basic items include: food, water, clothing, first aid supplies, flashlights, and batteries.
  • Collect clean containers to store drinking water. You should plan on having enough water for each person in your family to drink three gallons of water for three days.
  • Know your property's elevation. Your home might sit in a flood-prone area, or it might lie near a dam or levee that would become dangerous during a hurricane. Determine where you would go if you needed to get to higher ground.
  • Educate yourself on community evacuation routes. Make a plan to get to a safer place if you have to evacuate.
  • Secure your property. Take a look at our blog on preparing your home for hurricane season.

During a Hurricane

The sound of howling winds and the sight of pouring rain willmake weathering a hurricane scary and nerve-wracking. To make the or deal a little easier, concentrate on taking the following steps.

  • Close all windows and interior doors. This prevents them from rattling, and potentially breaking, during a storm. Then brace all exterior doors and windows to prevent wind damage.
  • Take refuge in one of your home's inner rooms, and lock the doors to that room.
  • Stay away from all glass fixtures in your home. These fixtures include windows, glass doors, skylights, and chandeliers.
  • Turn off your home's electricity if you live in a flood-prone area. Use your home's main breaker to shut off your electricity.
  • Shut off major appliances, like your water heater and air conditioner, to prevent damage in the event of a power outage.
  • Stay away from all electrical equipment and appliances, including your TV and computer.
After a Hurricane

    After the storm subsides, you might be at a loss about what to do next. Do you go outside? When is it okay to turn on appliances? How can you prevent water damage? Here are the proper steps to take following a hurricane.

    Damage Assessment

    • Wait until the storm passes to go outside. Listen to your local news radio station to get the go-ahead.
    • Gather safety gear and tools, including goggles, hard hats, work gloves, waterproof shoes, and fire extinguishers before you begin looking for damage.
    • Look for damage in and outside your home, walking carefully as you check for loose power lines, leaks, and structural damage. If you smell gas or hear unusual noises as you look for damage, evacuate your home immediately.
    • Take photographs as you assess the damage, regardless of how minor you think it is. Your insurance company will want proof of damage down the road.

    Interior Water Removal

    A few drops of rain my find their way into your house, or dozens of gallons of water may flood your basement. Either way, you'll nee d to take steps right away to remove water from your home. Here's how:

    • Use a sump pump to extract puddles and pools of water, and then remove the leftovers with a wet vacuum.
    • Open your doors and windows to air out your home. Turn on fans to speed the drying process.
    • Throw items away that won't dry quickly, such as soiled carpet or drywall. The longer an item takes to dry, the more likely it will grow mold.
    • Disinfect your home's interior. Flood waters and strong winds can bring harmful dirt and germs into your home. To avoid health hazards, clean your floors, walls, furniture, and other surfaces with a disinfectant.

    Exterior Damage Control

    • Remove broken tree branches from your roof and yard, if necessary. Tree branches heavy, and they also create a great place for mold and mildew to grow.
    • Clear leaves, debris, and damaged shrubs from your yard, as these can also harbor mold.
    • Inspect your roof for damage. Strong winds often blow shingles from roofs, which exposes your roof to wind and water damage. Take note of any damage you find, and make necessary repairs as soon as possible.
    • Look for cracks, holes, and leaks around your windows and doors. Heavy winds and rain might crack your windows, knock your doors of their hinges, or cause weather-stripping to come loose.

    If your home sustained severe damage, don't hesitate to contact a contracting company that specializes in exteriors. They will guide you through the cleanup process.

    Alexandra 7/27/2015

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