Even as we stoke up the barbie for Memorial Day weekend, nervous home insurance companies are chewing their nails in anticipation of the official start to hurricane season. This year, tensions are running higher than normal among homeowners and insurance underwriters, and for good reason.Record water temperatures in the Atlantic combined with the departure of the hurricane-moderating El Nino effect in the Pacific have prompted forecasters to predict an above-average hurricane season this year, with 15 named storms, eight of hurricane strength.
Add in the wild card of the disastrous ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and this hurricane season may be entering uncharted waters where home insurance coverage is concerned.
According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, or IBHS, more than half of all Americans live within 50 miles of the coast, and the majority of their properties are exposed to hurricane risk.
How can you keep your family safe and your home intact? Is your home insurance policy handy and up-to-date should you need to evacuate? A few home maintenance projects now can make all the difference should Mother Nature go all Christopher Walken on your block.
The IBHS offers these five S hurricane preparedness tips:
1. Shutter all openings, including windows, doors, garage doors, and even gable ends with materials rated to withstand wind pressure and large projectiles. Oh, and that old trick of taping an X over windows? Not worth the effort.
2. Secure loose roof shingles and tiles, especially at the roof edges, to keep them from peeling off in a domino effect. Three one-inch dabs of roofing cement under loose shingles should suffice.
3. Seal openings, cracks and holes against horizontal spray, especially areas where wires, cables and pipes enter the house.
4. Strengthen soffits with sharp stainless steel screws and polyurethane caulk to keep water out of your home.
5. Survey the surroundings, replace gravel landscaping with shredded bark, limit yard objects and trim trees and shrubs to minimize sources of wind-borne debris.
What's your best home hurricane tip? And are you gonna eat that last shrimp?