St. Charles Herald-Guide

Protect your home this hurricane season

Special to the Herald-Guide - June 4, 2010

By Deniese Zeringue
LSU Ag Center

The 2010 hurricane season is here and there are some relatively easy steps you can take to protect your home from hurricane damage.

Structural reinforcements such as, hurricane shutters or impact-resistant glass windows require time, money and planning. There are still some things you can do at a lower cost and with much less effort. The biggest risk to homes, away from the coast, is flying debris, therefore picking up items from your yard as a storm approaches is a good first step.

Hurricane winds can turn movable items into missiles that cause damage or injury to anything or anyone they strike. If a limb or a lawn chair propelled by 100-mile-per-hour winds break a window or smash through your roof, the damage then is complicated by rain and wind that rush into your home.

Here are some tips for preparations you can complete yourself to protect your home:

•Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm. Then use that checklist to help you remember anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds, and make sure those items are brought inside or secured before a storm hits.

•Check your yard for debris, and keep it picked up. Hurricane winds can pick up anything thatís not secured, and even trash and debris can cause damage to things they hit.

•Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs. Also, strategically remove branches so wind can blow through. You may need the help of a license arborist to complete big jobs, and itís important these chores are done well in advance of a storm, so you donít have piles of debris or trimmings lying around.

•Clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts, and make sure none of them are loose. Hurricanes often bring long periods of heavy rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent flooding that could result if water canít run off.

•If you donít have impact-rated hurricane shutters, cut half-inch-thick plywood panels to span each opening (well in advance, if possible), buy long mounting screws or specialty hardware and drill the mounting holes into framing (not just in trim or brick veneer) in advance, so you can cover the windows and doors quickly. Be sure to mark which board fits which window to save time, too.

•Keep in mind that tape does not prevent windows from breaking. Taping windows is not recommended and really can just take critical time from more effective preparedness measures. The only thing tape might do is to help reduce the scattering of broken glass. Itís important to buy the supplies youíll need well ahead of time. Well ahead of time, buy the items youíll need to board up windows, tie things down and take other measures to protect your home. When a hurricane threatens, supplies are quickly sold out at many stores – and the stock generally may not be replenished until after the storm.