Before a big storm, more big retailers are ordering mass amounts of an unexpected food product: strawberry Pop-Tarts. According to The New York Times, store officials reported record sales of strawberry Pop-Tarts during hurricane seasons. Why Pop-Tarts? The sugary treat is non-perishable, easily shipped, and does not require heating up or toasting in the event of a power outage.
Just like you would go to the store to purchase Pop-Tarts, bottled water, canned goods, and white bread and put together a family emergency kit, you need to prepare your house for the possibility of a severe storm too. Follow these tips to protect the inside and outside of your house from storm damages.
1. Clear Away Potential Debris
It is always wise to keep a clean lawn. Not only does that keep your local homeowner’s association (HOA) — if applicable — off your back, it also means that you will always be prepared in the event of rough and/or severe weather. Children’s toys, bicycles, kayaks, and surfboards are safest stowed away in a shed or the garage. Year-round, it is a good idea to stow any harsh chemicals in your garage at waist-level or higher. Harsh chemicals may include gasoline and other fuels, pesticides, and cleaning products.
Right before a storm hits, take steps to secure larger items that could become dangerous in high winds. A few days or a day before a strong storm or hurricane, remove anything that could act as a projectile, including potted plants, lawn ornaments, wind chimes, and bird feeders. Put lawn furniture, basketball nets, and swing sets into storage, or secure them firmly in place.
2. Buy High Impact Windows And Doors Now
On the Atlantic Coast, hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November 30. That means that it is not the best time to buy new, high impact windows and doors in May or June. The weather can be unpredictable. Install new storm windows and hurricane-proof doors well before they’re needed.
In addition to keeping you and your family safe during a hurricane, storm windows can boost energy efficiency, lower energy bills, and even provide much-needed sound insulation.
3. Purchase Plywood Planks
Complement your high impact windows and doors with sturdy storm shutters, or opt for a shortcut and purchase a few durable plywood planks. The best time to purchase plywood planks is right now. Keep them in a high, dry area. Remember that if you wait until the storm is about to hit, you may be fighting to beat the rush. Panicked shopping the days leading up to storms is a scientifically proven phenomenon — one likely driven by the need to take back control, according to Psychology Today.
4. Little Household Fixes That Make a Big Difference
There are small things you can do around the house to stay safe during a hurricane. First, replace any filler rocks or gravel in garden beds with wooden chips. Wooden chips are relatively soft–especially when they are damp–and are unlikely to cause damage, unlike hard and unforgiving materials like rock.
Similarly, reduce your risks of damages by cutting back bushes and trees. Look out for hanging limbs with particular care, but trimming trees year-round is a prudent and worthwhile measure.
Don’t forget to anchor big things! Because boats, trailers, and campers are relatively large, people assume they won’t move. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Leading up to tropical storms and hurricanes, anchor these larger vehicles to the ground.
5. Take Another Look At Your Insurance
Homeowners insurance will only get you so far. “Homeowners insurance covers the cost of temporary repairs for hurricane damage, as well as reasonable additional living expenses (ALE) over and above your normal living expenses if you have to relocate,” the Insurance Information Institute (III) reveals. Flood damages could end up coming out of your pocket if you are unprepared. Look into hurricane insurance for additional coverage.
Hurricanes are notorious for a reason. With the right steps, you do not have to worry about your house incurring damage. Install high impact windows and doors, purchase storm shutters or plywood, remove dangerous items from your lawn, and know what to expect–and what not to expect–from your insurance company.