Hurricanes and Your Home: Defending Against the Storm and Returning Safely
Hurricane season is here! Now is the time to take proactive steps to protect your home and loved ones from the potentially devastating impacts of these powerful storms. Hurricanes bring fierce winds, torrential rainfall, and storm surges that can cause severe damage and destruction to your property.
Check out Zap Consulting’s essential tips and strategies to protect your home against hurricanes and what to expect when returning home after the storm.
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Before the storm…
1. Reinforce Windows
High winds can easily breach standard windows, allowing for significant damage inside your home. Install storm shutters or impact-resistant windows to add an extra layer of protection. If you don't have access to these features, stock up on plywood and other materials needed to board up your windows before the storm hits – any sort of defense is better than nothing when it comes to flying debris.
2. Trim Trees
Overhanging branches can become dangerous projectiles during a hurricane. Trim trees close to your home, removing weak branches that might break off in strong winds.
3. Secure Outdoor Items
Secure outdoor furniture, potted plants, and other loose objects in a safe location to prevent them from causing damage.
4. Reinforce Your Garage
Garage doors are one of the most vulnerable parts of the home when it comes to high winds. Installing horizontal bracing on garage doors and strengthening the walls can help prevent the roof from collapsing during a hurricane.
5. Do Not Forget About Your Vehicles
If possible, move your cars and other motorized vehicles into your garage or move them to another secure location.
6. Obtain & Review Insurance Policies/Documents
Obtain copies of your insurance policies and make sure you have prepared your home and vehicles accordingly – your policies may have specific guidelines on how to safeguard your home and its contents in the event of a hurricane. Take all insurance-related documents with you if you plan to evacuate.
Protecting your home against a hurricane requires proactive planning and preparation. By understanding the risks, reinforcing vulnerable areas, and having a recovery plan in place, you can significantly improve your home's chances of withstanding these powerful storms.
After a hurricane, the safety of your family and yourself remains paramount. Rushing back home without proper planning can be risky and dangerous. Now let’s talk about what to expect when you head back home after the storm has passed.
What to expect when returning home…
1. Wait for the All-Clear from Authorities
Before returning home, wait for official confirmation from local authorities that it is safe to do so. Emergency services need time to assess and clear hazards, such as downed power lines, submerged roads, and unstable structures. Respect evacuation orders and guidelines to prevent endangering yourself and first responders.
2. Watch for Hazards
Once inside your property, proceed with caution. Look out for hazards like standing water, debris, wild animals, and insects that may have sought shelter in your home during the storm. Wear appropriate protective gear, including gloves and sturdy shoes, to avoid injuries.
3. Wait to Restore Power
Restoring power too soon could put repair crews and emergency responders at risk, as well as cause extensive damage to your existing appliances, electronics, and overall power infrastructure (ex. power lines, transformers, and substations). Receive the all-clear from appropriate parties prior to testing the power.
4. Be Cautious of Gas Leaks
Do not turn on gas lines if you suspect a leak, and never use portable generators or open flames indoors as they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If you suspect a leak, evacuate your home immediately (leaving all doors open) and call the fire department.
5. Assess Sewage & Water Lines
Evaluate the integrity of your sewage and water lines upon arrival. Avoid consuming any food or water (from the tap) that may have been contaminated during the hurricane. When in doubt, throw it out. Opt for pre-packaged, non-perishable food and bottled water until your local authorities and/or water company declare the water supply safe.
6. Document the Damage
Before beginning any cleanup or repairs, document the damage extensively. Take photographs or videos of every affected area of your home, both inside and outside. These records will be invaluable when filing insurance claims and seeking assistance.
Returning home after a hurricane requires careful planning and safety precautions. Always wait for official confirmation that it is safe to return and remain vigilant for potential hazards.
Documenting the damage and assessing utility services are essential steps in the post-hurricane recovery process. Prioritize your family's safety and seek assistance from qualified professionals if needed to ensure a smooth and secure return to your home.
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