We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can do some preventative things to help keep her out of our homes during storm season.
When storms rage, we can feel like we’re at the mercy of wind, rain and hail. Florida gets hit hard at different times of the year. In 2016, losses from storms set a record–almost $4 billion in damages in the Miami and Orlando areas. You can’t avoid the storms, but with a few tips, you can minimize the aftereffects of seasonal storms and water damage. Here are seven simple tips to help protect your home against damage from storms.
1. Protect Your Windows!
When rain breaches your windows, there’s not much you can do until the storm passes. Whether it’s a broken window pane from a tree branch, hail or water leaking around the seals, do some prep work to keep water outside where it belongs.
If a storm is on the way, cover your windows with plywood or close your exterior shutters. Plywood isn’t pretty–but it works to keep your windows intact during wind and hail. It’s a temporary fix until the storm passes. You can also tape your windows to give them extra strength. Depending on the strength of the storm, the tape might not be as effective as boarding.
As part of your annual spring maintenance, check your window seals. Make sure the windows close and seal properly to keep water from leaking in. If the seals need a touch-up, adding some caulk is a simple DIY job. It’s worth the effort to seal and cover windows to protect your home from storm damage.
2. Clear the Deck
This goes for anything loose in the yard or on patios and decks. When objects aren’t tied down or put away, objects can crash through windows and doors. Flying objects can cause more damage than necessary during high winds.
Put lawn chairs, equipment, and toys away in a garage or shed. Take down patio table umbrellas and put outdoor cushions away — stack chairs to keep them from blowing across the yard. In extremely high winds, unhook water hoses and put them away, as well. Winds can pick up a hose and tear pipes out of the ground.
3. Unplug Appliances
If you don’t need to use it during a storm, unplug it. Chances are, you’ll lose power in a severe storm, and power surges can damage appliances and anything plugged into an outlet during a storm.
Disconnect the power for your washer and dryer. You don’t need to do laundry during a storm! Take precautions to keep a surge from ruining these appliances. Charge phones and a portable radio ahead of time. Unplug the television and computer to also protect from a power surge.
4. Take Care of the Trees
It might seem silly to do your landscaping before a storm blows through, but you’ll be thankful for fewer branches to damage your home or car. Take a walk around your property and check tree branches for anything too close to the house.
Trim branches away from the roof and your windows. If the wind and rain knock down a heavy branch, you want it to fall on the open ground–not your home or your new car.
5. Cover the Car
Speaking of your car, make sure you find a covered parking place for it. Whether it’s the garage, carport or an open parking garage, don’t leave your car in the open driveway. If it’s a matter of choosing between the junk taking up space in your garage versus clearing that space for your car, choose your car. The day or two before a major storm could be the perfect motivation you need to dump the junk in your garage.
6. Move On Up
If your home sits in a high-potential flood area, get as high as you can. Move your family and your valuables to the second floor of your house, if available. Any essential documents should go inside waterproof packaging and set on a high shelf. Include insurance policies, passports, and credit cards in a waterproof place out of reach of rising waters. Small electronics–like phones or laptops–should also go in protective bags to keep them dry.
If available before the storm, place heavy sandbags inside and outside doors. These should sit tight against the crack of the door to help keep rising water out of your home. When a severe flood threat is inevitable, leave your home before the storm comes. Do not risk yours or your family’s safety by trying to ride out a dangerous storm.
Your home and possessions are replaceable! Take important paperwork and your loved ones and head for higher ground until the storm passes.
7. Don’t Forget Your Pets!
Your emergency disaster or home protection plan should include your pets. Be sure they have a place to go, clean water and food to survive the storm with you. If it’s not safe to keep them with you during the storm, send your pets to a temporary place until it’s a good time for them to return to your home. Find a friend or loved one who can take of your dog or cat until your home is safe and dry.
Make sure your pets have microchips for easy identification. During storms, it’s not uncommon for small pets or larger animals to become frightened, run away or become lost. If your pet has clear identification, they’ll more easily make their way back to you when the storm passes.
Prevention Protects Against Damage From Storms
Storms are unavoidable, but with some preventive measures your home can better withstand damage from storms. Even with prevention, the cleanup and recovery can be overwhelming after a storm. Whether it’s a lot or a little, you don’t have to do it alone.