Is Your Home Prepared for a Hurricane?

Published September 3, 2019 by Englander Peebles


An average hurricane season produces:
12 named storms
(winds of 39 mph or higher)
6 hurricanes
(winds of 74 mph or higher)
3 major hurricanes
(winds of 111 mph or higher)
Due mainly to storm surge, high winds and heavy rainfall, these storms can inflict major, expensive damage on the homes in their path. In fact, the five costliest tropical cyclones in U.S. history have all occurred within the last 15 years:
$1.25 Billion
$1.25 Billion
$90 Billion
$65 Billion
$50 Billion
If you live in an area that could be affected by tropical storms and hurricanes, you should know what to expect what to expect and how to prepare your home in order to protect your family and minimize your financial losses.

What Should You Expect?

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale uses wind speed to estimate the potential for danger and destruction in a storm. If a storm is forecast for your area, you will know what to expect based on the category falls into:

Tropical storm

Surge: 4 feet or less
Wind: 39 to 73 mph
Potential effects: Wind may cause minor damage to roofs, siding and gutters. Large tree branches may snap, and shallowly rooted trees may fall. Even a tropical storm can bring heavy rain and lead to flood damage.

Category 1

Surge: 4-5 FEET
Wind: 74 to 95 mph
Potential effects: Like a tropical storm, a Category 1 hurricane may produce only slight wind-related damage. However, if there is a prolonged period of rain, flooding can occur in areas near the coast, bays, rivers and creeks.

Category 2

Surge: 6-8 feet
Wind: 96 to 110 mph
Potential effects: High winds can loosen roof shingles, siding and gutters, cause tree branches to snap and uproot trees. You should expect some power outages to occur and last for a few days. Flooding is likely.

Category 3

Surge: 9-12 feet
Wind: 111 to 130 mph
Potential effects: The wind can inflict structural damage to a home, including the removal of roof decking and gable ends. Damage from snapped branches, uprooted trees and flying objects also will occur.

Category 4

Surge: 13-18 feet
Wind: 131 to 155 mph
Potential effects: Power outages could last weeks or months due to downed trees and power poles. The wind could easily remove a home's roof structure and exterior walls. Water damage may be significant.

Category 5

Surge: 19-plus feet
Wind: 156-plus mph
Potential effects: Homes may be destroyed completely by the force of the wind. You can also expect widespread, long-lasting power outages and flooding. Even small objects can become flying missiles in these conditions.

How to Prepare Your Home

When the National Hurricane Center issues a "watch," it means that a storm is forecast to be in the area within the next 36 hours. The NHC issues a "warning" when the storm is predicted to hit the area within the next 24 hours. You need to pay attention to these storm alerts and prepare your home for the worst.


Trees can topple over, and branches can snap off and damage windows, walls and roofs in a storm due to heavy wind and rain. Trim branches that appear to be dead, near your windows or hanging over your roof. You should also consider anchoring down trees that may be shallowly rooted.


Tree branches and other objects can smash windows and cause extensive water damage to the home's interior. You should do your best to seal windows and protect the glass by covering them with plywood. Tape and plastic covering will not be effective in a tropical storm or hurricane. You should install storm shutters in the future.


Most damage in a hurricane comes from roof failure. To minimize damage, you should check for loose shingles, seal with caulk and brace gable end during the window of time before a storm hits. Moving forward, you should consult with a roofer about your roof covering and, if necessary, install a covering that can stand up to high-speed wind.

Uncommon hazards

Move in anything that could become windborne in a storm, including patio furniture, grills, bikes, skateboards, sports equipment and toys. If you live in an area that often faces storm threats, you should replace any gravel or rock landscaping material with wood or rubber mulch.


The wind can easily blow open a door and let in rain. Check your locks before the storm hits and, if necessary, add dead-bolt locks. If your doors have glass windows, use plywood to protect them or install a door shield.


A great amount of damage to a home starts with wind and rain getting through garage doors. You can strengthen the door by adding horizontal braces and heavy hinges. You should also add a weather strip along the bottom edge to prevent water intrusion.

Keep a Hurricane Emergency Kit

You never know what can happen in a tropical storm or hurricane. You could face several days (or longer) without power or access to food and water. For that reason, you should have an emergency kit on hand that includes:


enough for one gallon per person per day for up to a week

Non-perishable food items

enough for at least a week

Pet food and supplies

Also enough for a week

Battery-Powered Radio

with extra batteries

Battery-Powered Flashlight

with extra batteries

Cell Phone

With Spare Batteries Or A Charger


At Least a seven-day supply of prescribed drugs


A Few extra gallons for your car or generator

Copies of important documents

Including family and emergency contact information and your health insurance and home insurance policies

first-aid kit


Personal Hygiene and sanitation items

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