How to Hurricane-Proof Your Home

Thanks in large part to climate change, temperatures and weather patterns are becoming more extreme. In 2019, there were 1,520 tornadoes throughout the United States. And for many Americans, hurricanes are a real threat to their property and the safety of their loved ones.

In the event of a major storm like this, it may be necessary to evacuate and get to safety. If your household is one of the 46,300,000 that owns a dog, you’ll also need to find a pet-friendly shelter. But if you aren’t in a region that’s been instructed to evacuate or you want to increase the chance that your home will still be standing upon your return, it’s essential that you take precautions. Certain home upgrades can effectively hurricane-proof your home — and while there are no guarantees that damage won’t occur, taking the extra steps to protect your home’s structural integrity may eliminate the worst-case scenario while providing valuable peace of mind. Here are just a few upgrades you may want to consider that can keep your house safe during a major storm.

Replace Your Garage Doors

Around 80% of all U.S. households located in owner-occupied units have access to a garage or carport. But while these areas can be very valuable if you own a vehicle, they can also be a major point of vulnerability in the event of a hurricane. Not only are your garage doors more susceptible to wind damage, but they can also allow for major property damage if the wind gets in and pressure is allowed to build up. In fact, FEMA cites garage door failures as one of the top causes of internal home destruction during a hurricane.

Standard garage doors won’t typically withstand hurricane-force winds, so you may want to think about replacing your existing doors with something more substantial. In many hurricane-prone areas, homes are required to have garage doors that can withstand 140-mile-per-hour sustained winds. But even if you don’t live in an area that’s known for hurricanes, you may need to consider upgrading to doors that are rated for Category 4 or Category 5 storms. Alternatively, you can also add bracing to existing garage doors — but keep in mind that you may not have much time to ready your property and potentially evacuate. Installing a wind code-rated garage door may be optimal, especially if your insurance company offers discounts on plans or premiums for making these kinds of improvements.

Invest in Window Protection

It might go without saying that your home’s windows are also major weak spots in the event of a hurricane or other big storm. You can install hurricane-impact windows that feature heavier frames and that can resist both breakage and flying projectiles during 150-mile-per-hour winds. Alternatively (or as a supplement to high-impact windows), you might also consider adding hurricane shutters that can protect your windows. These are about half the cost of installing hurricane windows, but opting for both could be worth the investment in some circumstances. You might also add window film, which can hold the glass together if the window does break during a storm. Finally, you may want to add caulking around your windows and your doors in an effort to keep water out.

Pay Attention To Your Roof

Your roof is an essential part of your home’s structural system and can easily become damaged during a major storm. If your current roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, you may want to think about replacing it before a storm hits. Metal roofs can withstand 140-mile-per-hour hurricane winds, while architectural shingles also provide pretty impressive wind resistance. Alternatively, you might consider hurricane straps for your roof, which can add wind resistance to your existing roof. You should also take the time to clear out your gutters and downspouts to ensure nothing will block water from flowing; if you fail to do this before a storm, you could end up with significant water damage when you return.

While there are a lot of other steps you can take to storm-proof your house in the event of a hurricane, these three upgrades can address some of the major vulnerabilities on your property and provide you with both value and peace of mind. That way, you’ll know you’ve prepared your home to the best of your ability and can focus on clearing up debris and evacuating to safety.

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