Preparing Your Vacation Home for a Hurricane
Hurricanes are serious business. If you're a beach house or vacation property owner, then surely you know this by now.
But for the uninitiated--that is, those who are investing in coastal property, or thinking about making such an investment in the near future--you may want to familiarize yourself with what steps are necessary to take in order to protect that investment in every way that you can.
Here are a few essential guidelines for prepping vacation property for a hurricane from your pals at Mortgages.
Pay attention to landscaping
In high wind situations, projectiles are, more often than not, the greatest source of damage (and even death).
What constitutes a projectile, exactly? Well, anything that isn't rooted in place, and that's heavy. That could mean everything from a large tree limb to a bicycle.
One simple, easy way to prep for a hurricane is to pay close attention to your landscaping. Trim back the greenery around your property, especially on the trees, pruning any heavy, dead branches, to be sure that they don't become projectiles in the high winds that result from hurricanes. These loose or dead branches could easily smash a window, or even collide with a person if you're not careful.
Review your insurance policies
Is your vacation home on stilts?
Or is your vacation home's foundation rooted to the ground, without stilts?
Whether your home is on stilts or not, you're going to want to review your insurance policy, and invest in flood insurance if you haven't done so already. Floods are the so-called "second wave" of hurricane damage, since they can happen even after the storm has dissipated. And you're going to want to make sure that your policy covers the full cost of rebuilding, should your home sustain irreparable damage.
If you're not sure how to read your policy, don't be afraid to call your insurance agent and ask her to go over it with you. It's also incredibly helpful to have a home inventory before a storm hits. Your inventory should list all your valuables, their serial numbers when you bought them, and where they are in your house so the insurance adjuster can have an accurate picture of all your valuables.
Securing your home
Glass windows are an easy target for high winds.
If you've got impact-resistant shutters, you could cut down on a significant amount of damage (not to mention a significant amount of expenses) that result from the storm. If the shutters are anchored to the wall surrounding the window, they're on better footing, so to speak, and they'll be able to withstand the intensity of the wind as it assaults your vacation property.
When the winds are howling, your roof is at risk. The right gust of wind can lift it right off, which spells disaster for the rest of your home. That's because your typical roof is held on by nails that are hammered in at an angle. It works fine for normal wind and rain but pulls out easily during major storms.
Hurricane clips help make your home more resistant to wind and are fairly easy to DIY.
Your garage door isn't designed to hold up to strong winds so it becomes another weak spot in your home. These doors aren't designed to hold up to strong winds.
You can build or buy a brace system for them that would consist of anchors drilled into the concrete and braces on the doors. During nice weather, the brace can be set aside in the garage. Before a storm, you can put the whole thing together pretty quickly.
Odds and Ends
Right before a storm, you'll have to batten down the hatches If you know you can't make it to your vacation home on short notice if there's a storm coming, you might want to consider working with a property manager who can take care of some of these things for you.
- Clear Gutters: Clogged gutters can lead to flooding and that's the last thing you need during a hurricane.
- Bring in any furniture or outside decorations: In a high-wind situation, these are just going to cause more damage to yours or your neighbor's home when they fly around.
- Take care of any dead trees or hanging limbs: Anything that looks precarious is probably going to fall as soon as it gets windy.
- Move valuables to top-level/bring them to your full-time home: That includes your TVs, cameras, and computers.
- Cover air conditioner
Remember, it's not just homes on the coast that are susceptible to damage from hurricanes. Homes that are inland, as far as 100 miles, are vulnerable to the high winds, flooding, and heavy rain that always accompany hurricanes.
So, regardless of where your property is, if you're in a coastal area, or a coastal-adjacent area, be sure to take the proper precautions. Happy prepping!