Get your home in shape for hurricane season
Beware of contractors who try to sell DIY products, warns Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and chief executive of FLASH. "Those are products that are cheap and can't get product approval," she says.
Consider looks, construction of coverings
Some coverings are permanent attachments to the building, such as accordion shutters. They rest folded and highly visible on either side of your windows.
Panels sit in tracks at the top and bottom of openings, but only the tracks are permanently attached to the building.
If you live in a condo or a development with an active homeowners association, be aware that there may be rules about the type and color of shutters allowed. Check before outfitting your doors and windows.
Also, ask your local building department what's required of coverings in your state or region, Chapman-Henderson says. Building codes in Florida, for example, require that hurricane products be able to withstand certain levels of impact by windborne debris, adds Mitrani. So those products have to undergo impact tests to earn approval.
Once your new coverings are installed, do a trial run, says Tim Reinhold, IBHS chief engineer and senior vice president of research.
"Make sure you have all the parts and everything is sized and fits properly," he says.
Other property precautions
Before hurricanes start forming, do a spot-check from the attic down. FLASH recommends caulking holes in building exteriors and tightening or replacing loose and missing screws and brackets in windows and doors -- including garage doors. Also, be sure to clean out the gutters.
A few final notes on preparation:
- Taping windows: Don't do it. It doesn't keep your windows or glass doors from shattering, yet most homeowners still think it should be done, according to a FLASH survey released ahead of hurricane season.
- Manufactured housing (mobile homes): Even if you have a newer home built to higher wind speeds, plan on evacuating, Reinhold says. There's too great a chance of damage from flying debris from older neighboring homes.
- High-rises: If you live in a high-rise building, be aware that potentially damaging wind pressures increase with height.
- Patio/yard: Don't leave anything outside. Trim trees so branches don't bang against the house. Do it early enough so the trimmings can be hauled off before a hurricane. Otherwise, they could cause damage if they fly around.
- Car: Gas up before the storm. If you don't, you risk power outages afterward that mean pumps won't run. And not all stations have generators.