How do you keep your house safe during a hurricane?

To ensure your home is a safe haven during a hurricane, securing the exterior is as vital as battening down the hatches. Begin with a thorough scan of your yard for potential flying hazards. We’re talking lawn furniture, gardening tools, and even those whimsical wind chimes. Everything must either be brought inside or anchored securely. In hurricane-force winds, even the most innocent-looking object can become a damaging projectile.

Next, let’s talk trees. Beautiful, yes, but in a hurricane, an untrimmed tree can cause chaos. Trim back any branches that could scrape or puncture your home’s exterior. This isn’t just for the sake of your windows, but also for your safety. Additionally, ensure that all trees around your home are healthy and well-rooted; weak trees might topple over and cause significant damage.

Gutters and downspouts deserve your attention too. Clean them out and make sure they’re firmly attached. During heavy rains, clogged or loose gutters can lead to water damage on your roof and siding. They can also create pools of water near your foundation, which is a big no-no. And while we’re talking about water, confirm that your sump pump is working if you have one—because a flooded basement during a hurricane is as undesirable as it gets.

When you’re done with that, take a look at your roof. Missing or loose shingles? That’s an open invitation for water damage during a hurricane. Secure them or, better yet, consider investing in hurricane straps if you live in an area that frequently dances with these tempestuous storms. These metal straps can help keep your roof attached to the walls of your house, reducing the chance that you’ll need a new roof after the storm passes.

Don’t neglect your garage door; it’s often the most vulnerable entry point in a storm. Reinforce it with vertical braces or a retrofit kit, because once the garage door fails, the wind can enter your home, increase the pressure, and potentially blow out walls or ceilings. And remember, flying debris can shatter a garage door window just as it can your living room bay window. Securing or boarding up these can spare you a storm’s indoor souvenir.

Finally, we turn our attention to your fencing. Hurricane winds don’t discriminate, and your fence is in the line of fire. Repair any loose or damaged boards, and ensure the posts are secured properly into the ground. You want to do everything within your power to keep these perimeter guardians standing through the storm’s onslaught.

In short, securing your home’s exterior isn’t just a precautionary chore—it’s about making a series of strategic moves to protect your home and family. By ticking off each task, you’re not just prepping—you’re ensuring that when the hurricane comes knocking, it’s your home that remains standing, strong and safe.

Reinforcing doors and windows

Now, let’s dive into the fortress-like protection of your castle’s windows and doors. We all love a little sunlight and a beautiful view, but when a hurricane is swirling towards you, those glass panes look less like windows and more like potential breach points. In comes the idea of reinforcing doors and windows. Think of it as putting on your home’s battle armor. When done correctly, you’re dramatically increasing the resilience of your dwelling against high winds and violent weather.

Starting with the windows, one word: shutters! Permanent storm shutters may be the best defense against hurricane winds. They’re built to withstand the pelting of heavy rain and the force of flying debris. And the beauty of it? Once installed, they’re a cinch to deploy whenever a storm approacheth. No shutters? No problem. You can still make like a handy homeowner and board up the windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to go BEFORE the storm clouds gather. Don’t even think about using tape; it does little to prevent glass from breaking.

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Moving onto your doors, even the sturdiest looking door can be the Achilles’ heel of your home in a hurricane. The goal is to reinforce them so they don’t swing open like saloon doors in a Wild West movie. For double doors, install heavy-duty bolts at the top and bottom. And let’s not skip the garage door. Retrofit kits for garage doors include bracing and heavy-gauge tracks to help prevent a blowout. Small investment, big payoff in the protection stakes!

Sliding glass doors can be particularly vulnerable because they’re typically made of large panes of glass and installed with weaker frames. To bolster these potential entryways for gusty uninvited guests, consider installing impact-resistant glass or plastic panels. And remember, do not rely on those flimsy little built-in locks; install additional heavy-duty locks that can take more than a sneeze to break through.





In summary, think ‘tough’—tough shutters, tough doors, tough windows. When you reinforce your home’s most vulnerable spots, you’re essentially telling that hurricane, ‘Not today! My home is my fortress, and we’re not letting you in.’

With your fortress now properly fortified, you can breathe just a tiny bit easier knowing that you’ve done your best to keep the raging wind-monster at bay. But remember, preparing your home is just one piece of the hurricane-survival puzzle. Keep reading to learn how to equip yourself with the necessary tools and plans to navigate through these adrenaline-pumping natural events.

Preparing an emergency kit

A well-prepared emergency kit is like a life raft in the swirling seas of a hurricane. As the winds howl and the shutters rattle, you’ll thank your lucky stars for this bundle of necessities. But what exactly do you pack in an emergency kit to outlast the wrath of Mother Nature?

Think essentials. Water is top of the list—plan for at least one gallon per person per day, for at least three to seven days. And in the spirit of good ol’ culinary comfort, stock up on non-perishable food items. We’re talking canned goods, dry snacks, and high-energy foods. Don’t forget a manual can opener; the electric one won’t do you any good if the power’s out.

Here’s the kicker: remember medications. A week’s supply is the minimum, but with pharmacies possibly shut down post-storm, having an extended stash could be a game-changer. Equally important, keep a first-aid kit to handle any minor injuries or illnesses. Think antiseptic, bandages, pain relievers, and any personal care items you can’t live without.

Batteries and chargers—because while you might be disconnected from the world for a bit, you don’t want to be disconnected from your lifelines. Keep extra batteries for flashlights and radios, and if you can, invest in a solar or hand-crank charger for your devices.

Don’t overlook personal documents. Passports, birth certificates, insurance policies—imagine trying to piece your life back together without them. Place them in waterproof containers to keep the chaos of a hurricane from turning into a paperwork nightmare.

And let’s talk light. Flashlights and lanterns will make your post-storm life infinitely easier. Candles might seem cozy, but they’re an open invitation for a fire hazard during such tumultuous times. Stay safe; stick to battery-operated lighting.

Speaking of safe, include a whistle in your kit. It might seem old school, but in an emergency, it’s a tool that could save your life by signaling for help. And while you’re at it, throw in some local maps. Yes, the paper kind. Your GPS is fallible when the power grid falters.

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Utility tools such as wrenches or pliers can turn off utilities when needed, and a multi-tool can come in handy for all those unexpected fixes. And for comfort’s sake, pack a cozy blanket or sleeping bag. A good night’s rest is critical, and during a hurricane, you want to be as snug as possible.

Lastly, don’t forget about your furry friends. Pet food, extra water, and bowls should also be a part of your kit. Your pets are part of the family, and they rely on you to remember their needs too.

With a complete emergency kit, you become the captain of your own ship, navigating through the hurricane with all your essentials at the ready. But don’t set sail just yet—we’ve got more prep to plunge into. Sharpen your pencils and gather round the table; it’s time to draft up the kind of plan that would make a general proud—a family emergency plan.

Creating a family emergency plan

Alright, let’s switch gears and focus on crafting a solid family emergency plan that’s as essential as a life vest on a sinking ship. When the winds start to howl like a pack of angry wolves, you’ll want to be sure every member of your crew knows exactly what to do.





To kick things off, designate an emergency meeting place outside your home. This should be a spot where everyone can gather safely if you need to evacuate quickly or if your home becomes as welcome as a shark at a pool party. It could be the big oak tree down the street, your neighbor’s fence, or even a local community center – just make sure it’s accessible and known to all involved.

Communication is key—so create a contact list that includes all the vital players like family, friends, and emergency numbers. Laminate it if possible, because paper doesn’t fare well in a hurricane any better than a kitten in a kennel of Rottweilers. Each family member should have a copy, and it’s smart to save these numbers in everyone’s cell phones too.

Discuss and document the roles each person will play. For instance, who’s in charge of grabbing the emergency kit, who’ll help the pets, and who is responsible for ensuring Grandma’s antique vase gets to safety? Assigning tasks beforehand prevents the chaos of everyone running around like headless chickens when every second counts.

Evacuation drills are not just for schools and office buildings. Run through the drill a few times. Practice makes perfect, or at least less panic-stricken. When the pressure’s on, muscle memory can save precious time.

Let’s not forget about the little details that can make a big difference – like teaching everyone how to shut off utilities. A gas leak during a hurricane is like adding insult to injury. So make sure even the kiddos know the drill. But keep it within reason – little Timmy doesn’t need to be handling the circular saw.

Include a plan for after the storm. Hurricanes have the bad habit of rearranging landscapes, turning familiar streets into navigational nightmares. Have an offline map handy and discuss alternative routes home or to your meeting place, in case your usual paths are blocked faster than a blocked punt at a football game.

If your family has special needs or medical requirements, incorporate these into your plan with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. If Aunt Sally requires a dialysis machine or little Lucy needs her asthma inhaler, have contingencies in place to address these needs with the urgency they demand.

Finally, loop in your social circle. Let friends and neighbors know your plan, especially if you’re the neighborly type who’s always sharing a cup of sugar or watching each other’s pups. They might just be the ones knocking on your door with a chainsaw crew to help you out of a jam—or you to them.

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In essence, your family emergency plan isn’t just a list of ideas; it’s your lifeline, drawn up with the meticulousness of a Renaissance painting, to keep you tethered together when the hurricane tries to blow you apart.

Got all that down? Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. There’s one more thing to become conversant in, and that’s your escape routes. So sharpen your awareness, and let’s dive into understanding evacuation routes and protocols.

Understanding evacuation routes and protocols

Now is the time to channel your inner boy scout and be prepared—knowing your evacuation routes and protocols could mean the difference between a mad scramble or an orderly departure. So, take a moment to visualize: the skies have darkened, and local officials have given the order. Evacuation time. What do you do?

First things first, sit down with that family emergency plan and study the evacuation routes designated by your local government. These routes are planned considering numerous strategic factors and are there to zip you into the safe zone efficiently. Often, you’ll find these routes clearly marked with blue signs featuring either a hurricane symbol or an arrow.

It’s essential to identify multiple escape avenues, as the most straightforward route might be compromised. Think about it—there’s a chance that the same street you take for your coffee run could be jammed or turned into a temporary river. Alternatives are your friends.

Don’t wait until you can feel the hurricane breath on your neck. Once the evacuation order is issued, grab your emergency kit, secure your home, and start moving; the earlier, the better. You don’t want to be the last gazelle at the watering hole when the lions of chaos are prowling.

Understanding the protocols is key too. Follow the instructions of local authorities. If they say ‘Go,’ you go, and if they say ‘Halt’, you halt. Their directives are based on real-time assessments of the storm’s impact. Make sure to keep a battery-powered radio or a smartphone alert system handy to receive these important updates.

If transportation is a concern, find out beforehand if there will be any assistance provided. Many local governments offer support for individuals with mobility issues or without vehicles for evacuating.

Remember, you’re not in a Hollywood movie trying to outdrive the apocalypse. Respect speed limits and traffic laws to prevent accidents. Panicking can lead to mistakes that multiply like rabbits, and when roads are packed, a fender bender could quickly turn into a gridlock.

And while we’re at it, never attempt to drive through floodwaters. It’s impossible to judge their depth or current, and it only takes a foot of moving water to sweep a vehicle off the road. Heed the timeless advice: Turn around, don’t drown.

For those with furbabies, it’s wise to have a list of pet-friendly shelters or hotels on hand before the scramble begins. Not all evacuation centers will welcome pets, and nobody wants to leave a four-legged member of the family behind.

Lastly, take a ‘breadcrumb’ approach to leaving. Let friends or family members outside the evacuation zone know where you’re heading. Check-in regularly as you progress. This will help everyone stay connected and offer peace of mind.

When you understand the evacuation routes and follow the protocols, you transition from being a potential victim to an empowered individual taking charge of your safety. Study your routes, prepare to roll out at a moment’s notice, and you’ll find the journey out of harm’s way can be as smooth as a coastal breeze.



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