How to Protect Your Home and Your Valuables During a Hurricane
Preparing for a hurricane is never easy, but if you're a homeowner, there are extra steps you need to take before a storm.
Should you find yourself in the path of an impending hurricane, you will need to take the precautions necessary to protect your house and valuables against the onslaught of high winds and unrelenting rain, in addition to putting together an emergency kit complete with drinking water, food, medicine, first aid supplies, and toiletries.
Here are seven things you can do to give your home and valuables the best chance at withstanding a hurricane.
Clean up the Yard
Heavy objects, like bikes, lawn furniture, and grills, can be swept up by the winds and damage your house, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. Bring them inside or place them in a shelter.
Cover the Windows and Doors
The CDC recommends nailing plywood to your window frames or using storm shutters to protect yourself from shattered glass. If you are planning to stay at home, keep away from your windows and remain inside until the hurricane has officially been declared over.
Close All Interior Doors
When you prepare your home for a hurricane, you will want to do more than shut your windows and exterior doors: you will need to close every door inside your house as well.
Based on the results from a scientific wind testing, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) reported that high winds coming into your house through a broken window can "create strong upward pressure on the roof" and cause it to blow apart.
“The roof is your first line of defense against anything Mother Nature inflicts on a home, and during a bad storm your roof endures fierce pressure from wind, rain, and flying debris that may be outside,” said IBHS president and CEO Roy Wright.
Should you lose your roof, your house would be exposed to these elements.
To prevent this from happening, IBHS recommends that you close your interior doors to help "compartmentalize the pressure inside the home into smaller areas," which will reduce "the overall force on the roof structure."
Prepare Drinking Water
The storm may cause you to lose your water supply, so you will want to stock up on bottled water. Ideally, you should have a two-week supply of drinking water, but you need to have at least three days worth, the CDC says. Each person and pet should have a minimum of one gallon of water every day.
If bottled water is not available, fill your containers with water from the tap; since it may get contaminated with germs, you can disinfect your water with unscented household chlorine bleach or iodine tablets.
Additionally, you may want to have a supply of water in your sinks and bathtubs for washing.
Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detector
In the event that you experience a power outage, you may turn to alternative sources of electricity and fuel — such as generators, camp stoves, and grills — for cooking, heating, and cooling. According to the CDC, this can cause a build up of carbon monoxide in your house, which could have fatal consequences. Check your detector's batteries before the storm hits to prevent poisoning.
Prep Your Fridge
The CDC also advises that you set the thermostat in your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting, as your preservatives will last longer if the power goes out.
Don't have enough space for your food? Insider says that your washing machine can be used as a cooler; pack the drum with ice and you will be able to store food inside to keep it fresh.
If you plan to leave your home before the storm hits, try the "quarter in a frozen cup of water" trick to ensure that your food is safe to eat.
Save Your Important Documents on a Flash Drive
One popular tip making the rounds on social media is to store your valuables and important documents in an empty dishwasher, the reason being that dishwashers are waterproof and are secured to cabinets.
However, this is not 100 percent foolproof advice. "Appliances are not waterproof nor would we endorse such a tip," Kim Freedman, a representative for GE Appliances, told INSIDER.
In case of flooding, it is best to scan your important documents — such as your birth certificate, Social Security card, family pictures — and save them on a flash drive, which you can keep with you at all times. You can store hard copies of the documents in waterproof containers, or pack them if you plan to evacuate.