Prepare your vacation home for hurricane season

June 1st officially kicks off hurricane season here in the US and it runs through November 30th.  According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association there are nine to 15 named storms predicted for the 2019 season. For those unfamiliar with how a hurricane forms here is a brief description by National Geographic:

The most damaging effects from hurricanes to property and homes is from storm surge and high winds. We put together a hurricane checklist to prepare your home against damage and also a list to prepare yourself and your family if you decide to ride out the storm.

Before the storm:

Know where to go in case you have to evacuate.  If you plan on evacuating make sure you know the route and where you are going to stay. Don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate, time is of the essence and the longer you wait the less time you have to get out of the storms path, traffic will be very bad for very long distances. This is not rush hour traffic where talking about here. Literally tens of thousands of people will be on the road at the same time.  Make reservations well in advance out of the path of the storm. Hotel rooms book up fast so plan ahead. If you have family or friends that you can stay with that might be a better option.  If you plan on evacuating make sure you have a a to-go bag ready that includes a first aid kit, flashlight with batteries, medications, cash, copies of your critical information (insurance info, birth certificates etc) and a disaster supply kit.

If you are staying in your home during the storm make sure you have adequate supplies of food, water and pet food for at least 7 days that can be kept without refrigeration and prepared without electricity. Gas grills can be very helpful for boiling water to cook, clean or bathe with if you have no electricity. I boiled water for a couple of my neighbors in 2004 when we lost power for a few days after a storm. Having an additional full tank of gas was a real help.

Make an emergency family evacuation plan. Everyone should have designated responsibilities to carry out the evacuation. Someone can gather the evacuation kit, someone can get the pets in the car, kids ready to go, that kind of thing. Make sure to keep your gas tank filled at all times. Hundreds of people get stranded every year along the highways because they run out of gas. Don’t be that person!

Preparing your home

Whether this is your vacation rental of your main place or residence a little preparation can go a long way.

  • Bring in everything in your yard that can be moved, garden pots, hoses, yard decorations, BBQ grills, lawn chairs and table all can act as a missile during high winds.
  • Take an inventory of your personal belongings. A video inventory works well and more time efficient.
  • Unplug electronics and unused appliances. Prevent surges when power returns or electrical blow outs from water intrusion.
  • Make sure all your windows are properly sealed and buy or make secure window coverings. Watch this video to see how to choose the right window protection:
  • Consider buying a generator in case your power goes out. It could be several days even weeks before power returns. (Please DO NOT run it inside the house or garage!)
  • Test sump pumps and drains.
  • Storm proof your landscaping. Make sure trees and shrubs are pruned back away from house. Consider replacing gravel with recycled rubber or mulch.
  • Review and upgrade your insurance if necessary.
  • Inspect your roof. Replace loose tiles. Check for leaks. Install hurricane straps in your attic and put head and foot bolts on doors.
  • Secure attached structures like car ports, entry canopies, decks and sheds.
  • Most importantly, if your vacation rental is occupied during a storm and they are not evacuating make sure they have all necessary supplies well in advance. If they are under a mandatory evacuation make sure they evacuate safely and keep an open line of communication during the whole process. Human lives are much more important than the property. has an excellent article that talks about proper preparation before a storm, evacuation and what to do after a storm hits

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