June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center predicts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. The prediction includes three to six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) with a 70 percent confidence. Of course, as anyone who lives on the Gulf Coast knows, our weather is unpredictable, but taking NOAA’s information into account, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Gulf Coast residents’ best bet for protecting lives and property is preparation – for yourself, your family and your home. What are some ways you can prepare your home for a hurricane well in advance of it making landfall? Check out these tips below to help your house weather the storm:
Cover: You can begin protecting your home from hurricane-force winds now. Cover your air conditioner to project it from tree limbs turned missiles. Be sure the covering you choose won’t void any warranty. Have a supply of plywood stored so when everyone else is scrambling to buy it, you already have what you need to cover your home’s windows. You could also opt to have storm shudders made specifically to fit your home. Before the rain begins to fall is also the time to seal gaps in doors, windows or even in your home’s foundation. When water begins rising, any gap is a potential entry point, so walk the perimeter of your home to find weak spots. If you have sump pump, regularly servicing it will keep you from being part of the mad rush as well.
Secure: Have a place to store patio furniture, grills, flowerpots, wind chimes, etc. that can become projectiles in hurricane-force winds. Make sure everything that needs to will fit in that designated area before a storm develops. You won’t be able to remove every potential issue, but it’s a good idea to regularly trim dead branches from trees and bushes and clean your gutters. You don’t want that dead oak limb you’ve been meaning to cut ending up on your living room floor in the middle of a hurricane. Hurricane straps – galvanized steel plates to help anchor your roof trusses – are also an additional security option.
Verify: Double check you have enough gas for the backup generator and extension cords; all your important appliances have surge protection – or that your electrical panel does; and you know how to turn off all utilities and have the tools to do so readily available. You also want to make sure your home insurance is adequate before a storm enters the Gulf. The Insurance Information Institute has a hurricane season insurance guide available to help you understand what coverage you already have and what you may need.
Hope for the best; expect the worst. The adage is never proved truer than during hurricane season. Be safe.