How to Prepare your Home for Storms

storm-proof-garage-doorsStrong winds from hurricanes and tornadoes can seriously damage the structural integrity of your home. Roofing, garages, doors and windows are all susceptible. Homeowners can expect to pay several thousands of dollars to replace a standard roof. That’s a major expense, especially in these challenging economic times. Beyond your home, your car may also be vulnerable to wind damage.

There are preventative measures you can take to protect your home from wind damage before a storm or hurricane hits. Follow our home storm preparation guide below to protect yourself and your family and avoid costly damages.

Strengthen your garage door

Most residential hurricane damage begins with wind entry through the garage doors. Garage doors are considered the weakest link in a home. Once the garage door is lost, the home may be considered lost as well.

Are your garage doors made of lightweight materials? This was probably done to conserve weight and expense, but it also makes the doors very vulnerable to high winds. Check for a sticker on the inside of your garage door that gives you a pressure rating. Don’t see a sticker? It means you’ll need to purchase new wind resistant doors. Consumer Reports suggests installing garage doors that are less than 9 feet wide, rated to withstand more than 50 pounds of pressure per square foot, and windowless.

Seal your roof

When a heavy storm hits, it may almost seem like the wind is going to rip the roof right off your home. You should reinforce your roof before strong winds hit. To help protect your roof form wind, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends sealing your roof deck using “peel and stick” tape along your roof seams, or a “peel and stick” membrane over the entire roof deck, or apply polyurethane foam.

Keep in mind that protecting your roof from wind damage is no last-minute task. It’s in your best interest to ensure that your roof is well protected against wind damage as soon as possible. Have it professionally inspected for the following:

  • Shingles meet or exceed the local building code and are rated high for wind and impact resistance
  • Shingles are properly nailed down and fitted tightly together
  • Roof sheathing is securely nailed down
  • Any affixed HVAC units won’t be blown off

For more information, take a look at our wind damage prevention tips.

Secure your windows and doors

High winds from hurricanes can damage your home’s windows and doors. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes and heavy storms, consider installing impact resistant windows. These windows are designed to withstand forceful winds.

Strong winds can rattle any exterior door that’s not properly secured. You should inspect your home’s doors and pay close attention to the hinges. Are any screws missing? How many hinges are there? Having three hinges on outside doors, as opposed to two, provides additional strength. Be sure the door threshold is tightly screwed into your house and not just the door frame. You may want to consider installing new wind resistant doors with a high design pressure (DP) rating. The DP rating is a measure of the level of wind force a door system can withstand without failing.

Minimize the risk of outdoor threats

To minimize outdoor threats caused by wind damage, anchor any loose objects on your property, such as trash cans, grills or deck furniture. Be sure to remove large trees from your property that could fall on your home. Additionally, remove any larger, dead branches on trees. It’s been shown that falling trees and flying branches kick start damage to property during windstorms and tornadoes. Also, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, you should anchor smaller outdoor structures, such as sheds or dog houses.

To help block high winds, you can use landscaping and yard objects:

  • Adding shrubs of varying heights
  • Trees in a row
  • Fence
  • Playground equipment

Protect your vehicles

If possible, store your vehicles inside a garage or storage building before high winds from a storm can cause damage. Never park vehicles under a tree during an approaching storm. If you must park outside, be aware of things that could cause damage, including branches, lampposts and power lines.

Preparation is essential when you’re looking to prevent costly home damages from windstorms. Protecting your home and property from wind is no last-minute chore. Insurance policies from Nationwide cover repairs to damaged property, in most cases.