Hurricane-Safe Home Design
Storm shutters are one of the most basic methods of hurricane-safe home design. They take many forms, including plywood coverings, corrugated metal and polycarbonates. Photo by Dave Gatley/FEMA News Photo.
The Home Depot’s construction and hardware experts have also been kind enough to share the following tips for securing your home against hurricanes:
At the Start of Hurricane Season
Prepare Your Home. Install “hurricane straps” or similar fasteners to hold the roof to walls. Prepare to cover windows, glass doors and openings with hurricane shutters or precut plywood. If you live in a manufactured home, check the tie-downs. Also check for potential leaks where wind and water can penetrate by looking for weak spots or gaps in doors, windows and the roof.
Prepare Your Yard. Trim all trees and shrubbery near your home as early as possible. There may not be time to dispose of debris right before a major storm hits. Repair loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
Gather Emergency Items. Gather your disaster kit, which contains all of the necessary safety items.
Verify Insurance. Check your insurance policies to ensure you have enough homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If it’s available, consider adding flood and other hazard-specific insurance. Many homeowners are shocked to learn that their policies do not cover flood damage.
Devise a Plan. Develop a family disaster plan so that every household member who gets caught in the storm while away from home knows what to do and where to meet in an emergency. Make sure you understand your community’s safety plan, and compile a list of emergency contact numbers, including an out-of-town friend or relative with whom each family member can check in to report location.
Prior to an Impending Hurricane
Prepare Outdoors. Put away or secure any loose items to prevent them from becoming airborne and damaging property in high winds. This includes trashcans, lawn chairs, pool equipment, children’s toys and lawn ornaments.
Protect Windows. Install hurricane shutters or precut plywood over windows and glass doors.
Prepare Indoors. Unplug electrical appliances to protect them from electricity surges. Move your emergency supplies into an indoor room with no windows—the place you will stay if you aren’t instructed to evacuate.
Secure the Home. Secure and reinforce garage doors, as well as double-entry doors, at both top and bottom. A door that breaks open during a hurricane can compromise the rest of your home.
Retrieve Hurricane Items and Materials. Store all hurricane supplies in a dry place—preferably off the ground, but in an accessible location.
Follow Evacuation Procedures. If you are ordered to evacuate, do so immediately. If you have special circumstances and require extra time to evacuate, consider leaving the area before an evacuation. Do not ignore evacuation measures issued by your local government, police or fire officials. Your family’s safety should be your top priority.
Not the Do-It-Yourself Type?
You can hire an experienced, licensed contractor to install hurricane shutters—including aluminum panels, accordion shutters and roll-ups without motors—to secure your home.
Click here to learn about the approximate costs for a home with around 15 windows and two sliding glass doors. You will need Windows Media Player or RealPlayer™ (which is probably already installed on your computer) to view it. You can download the player for free by clicking on the link below.
For more information about increasing your chances of survival during a hurricane, visit our hurricane preparedness page.