With a hurricane bearing down, there’s no question you’ll want to keep you and your family safe, not to mention your house – and what’s inside it.
Here is how you can do that.
Openings: If your house doesn’t have shutters or impact resistant windows, cover them with plywood. Garage doors should be reinforced from the inside, with wood studs or metal braces attached lengthwise.
The roof: Repair cracked or missing roof tiles or loose shingles. Inspect and replace any boards along the roof edges that show signs of decay. Check the hurricane straps, which hold the roof frame to the walls of the house, for any loose, rusting, or missing straps. Replace or repair any trusses or beams that have cracks, large knots or insect damage. To make temporary repairs, nail 8-foot-long (or longer) 2-by-4s on both sides of the damaged truss or beam.
Outside the house: Trim trees and shrubs, cut limbs or trees that could fall against the house. (Tree removal should be done well in advance, as you may need approval from your municipality.) Move inside anything that could become airborne in high winds. Move vehicles inside the garage, or away from where trees could potentially fall. If you have a boat, secure it, or place it in a safe harbor or at a marina or dock.
Safe room, in-home shelter: A safe room is a reinforced area inside your home, although it can also be built as an outside addition. It should have running water, a toilet and allow at least 10 square feet per person. Safe rooms shouldn’t be built in evacuation zones because they they wouldn’t protect against rising water. If you don’t have a reinforced in-home shelter, everybody in the home should go into the strongest interior room, preferably one without windows. For more information, check out fema.gov and floridadisaster.org.
Guns: Make sure all firearms are stored and locked in a safe that protects against flood and fire damage.
Jewelry: Store in a flood-proof safe, or if possible, in another location such as a bank safety deposit box.
Important documents: If you’re evacuating, take along all important documents such as insurance policies, mortgage statements, birth certificates, social security cards, and passports. If you remain at home, keep them at the very least in a Ziplock bag or a sealed, waterproof container. If you have a flood-proof safe, put the documents in there.
Computers and cellphones: Save important files on your computer to a cloud service. Make sure any computers or devices are stored in a place where they are less likely to be damaged by floodwaters. Unplug any devices and remove any cords or cables from the floor. With cellphones, write down each important phone number that you may need in case cell service or the ability to charge a phone with a dead battery isn’t available.
Propane tanks: Never store a propane tank indoors, not even in the garage. Store it outside, ensuring it’s secured so that it doesn’t become a projectile in the storm’s winds.