How to Prepare Your House for Hurricane Irma
It’s peak hurricane season and while the country is already reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic storm, is snaking her way through the Atlantic and towards Florida. Currently, no one is certain where Irma will hit, however, she does appear to be making a move towards South Florida. Regardless, it is imperative that Floridians prepare themselves for a potentially life-threatening storm.
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Preparing Your Home for Hurricane Irma
In addition to restocking your emergency preparedness kit and filling up your gas tank, Florida homeowners need to take measures to protect their homes from high winds, debris, and lots of water. At the time of writing, Hurricane Irma is a category 5 storm with winds up to 185 mph. After watching the devastation and destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey, many Florida homeowners are keen to take steps to protect their homes. Here’s what you should be looking at.
Check Your Roof and Gutters
Remove any branches and debris from your roof and clean out your gutters. Look for overhanging branches and trim them back. Identify any missing or broken shingles and nail them down if possible.
Remove Dead Tree Limbs
Identify any damaged or dead tree limbs that could possibly break and harm your house. Cut them back. Even if the tree branch is several feet from your home, remove it. High-powered winds can bring it too close for comfort.
Take Outdoor Furniture In
High winds can turn patio furniture into dangerous projectiles. Anything that can be moved should be moved to ensure it doesn’t become airborne and damage your house.
Cover Your Windows
If you have storm shutters, use them. If not, a trip to your local hardware store may be in order. You’ll want to look for ⅝” exterior grade or marine plywood. Measure your windows and either have the store cut the plywood to size for you or cut it at home. You’ll want the plywood to be larger than the windows by 8 inches on all sides. You’ll also want to cover any glass doors.
Reinforce Your Garage Door
If your garage door is not made from steel, it may not be able to withstand the high winds of a hurricane. You can reinforce your garage door with a grid of 2-by-4s or with a wind retrofit kit.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Your insurance policy should state what it covers, what you need to make a claim, and when you should start the claims process. You should also check your roof warranty to see what type of damage may be covered. Your insurance policy and your roof warranty should be stored in a safe, dry place with your other important papers, such as your deed, your birth certificate, etc. You’ll want to take these documents with you if you need to evacuate. Make it easy on yourself by keeping them stored safely in portable, plastic file carrier next to your emergency preparedness kit. (Don’t have an emergency kit? Check here to learn what should be in it.)
Use Sandbags if You Live in Flood Zone
Homeowners in areas that tend to flood can use sandbags around their doors to keep water from coming in. Hillsborough County has three pickup points for residents.
Evacuate if Necessary
We all love our homes, ultimately, however, your life is worth more than your home. If your area is being evacuated, follow the advice of your city or county officials. Remember to take your important papers and your emergency kit with you.
Hurricane Irma is bringing a lot of fear with her. It’s important to use that as an impetus to prepare for the worst. We hope you weather this and every other storm safely.