Preparing Your Home

Your home may be what stands between you and a disaster. There are easy things you can do now to make your home ready to withstand a strong storm, and they do not have to be expensive fixes.

Before a Storm Arrives

Remember ABC: anchor, brace and cover.


  • Bring in anything from the yard that could become windborne.
  • Replace gravel and rock landscaping material with lightweight mulch.
  • Trim and anchor down trees and foliage.
  • Secure utility sheds and carports. Ask the installer about recommended methods.


  • Bolt all doors with floor and head bolts.
  • Reinforce doors and tracks.


  • Cover all large windows and doors (especially patio doors) with reliable impact-resistant shutters fitted with the proper mounting hardware.
  • Properly caulk and weather-strip windows and doors to reduce water intrusion.

Home Improvements

These relatively easy home improvements and good practices can make a major difference in keeping you and your family safe during a storm.

Brace Your Gabled Roof

Gabled roofs are two slopes that come together to a peak at the top. They are prone to failure if not properly braced in construction. High winds could cause your end wall to collapse.

Protect Your Windows

Your best option is to install impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters. Otherwise, be ready to cover your windows with commercial exterior plywood with a minimum thickness of 7/16 of an inch.

Check Seals

Replace any worn-out weather stripping or caulk around windows and doors.

Brace Your Garage Door

Old garage doors in good condition can be braced with retrofit kits. New doors must meet stringent wind requirements. After Hurricane Andrew, engineers determined four out of five homes that suffered major damage lost their garage door first.

Document Your Property

Take photos and video of your home and all of your belongings for insurance purposes.

Operate Generators Safely

Generators produce carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas. Always run generators outdoors, get a carbon monoxide detector and follow all manufacturer’s guidelines.

Prepare Your Yard

Rocks, mulch, sagging tree limbs, yard furniture and decorations are among the objects that could become deadly missiles in high winds.

  • Keep your trees pruned and clean out your gutters on a regular basis.
  • Properly dispose of any piles of loose tree limbs or debris. It is illegal to dispose of debris in storm drains.
  • Bring in all large yard items, such as furniture, grills and bird baths.
  • Do not drain your pool. Super chlorinate the water and turn off the electricity. Putting outdoor furniture in the pool to keep it out of the wind could harm the furniture and damage the pool finish.

Prepare Your Vehicle

  • Keep up with your car’s maintenance.
  • Keep gas tank at least half full. Fill the tank when a hurricane watch is issued.
  • Build an emergency kit for your car with first aid supplies, nonperishable food and water, tire inflator, tool kit, jack and spare tire, jumper cables, road flares, flashlight, DC/AC power inverter and mobile device chargers.
  • Know the flood risk to your vehicle. Your home may not flood but your vehicle may in the driveway.
  • Check your insurance policy for appropriate coverage.

Prepare Your Boat

  • Keep insurance up to date.
  • Create a hurricane plan for your boat and file a copy with the marina operator.
  • Take photos of your boat and its contents.
  • Purchase and stow mooring line for storms. The line should be about twice the diameter of normal line. Allow extra line for tide and storm surge.
  • When a storm is approaching, remove loose items on the deck and store them on land.
  • Shut off fuel lines at the tank.
  • Keep batteries charged. Make sure bilge pumps are operating property.
  • Secure hatches and doors.
  • Use several cleats to distribute the load on the boat.
  • Use several feet of chafing gear where lines will rub against other objects. Reinforced radiator hose works great for this purpose.
  • Disconnect electric, water, fuel and other dock connections.
  • If you are storing your boat on land:
    • Store boat and trailer in a secure, covered building if possible.
    • If the boat is outside, secure it using ground hooks and straps.
    • Put wooden blocks between trailer frame and springs for extra support with added weight.
  • If your boat is anchored:
    • Anchor on the lee side of protective land rather than mooring to a dock.
    • Use two anchors and no stern anchor.
    • Line length should be six to nine times the normal water depth for storm surge shift.
    • Keep batteries charged and bilge pumps operating properly.