AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
The Time is Now to Take Precautions Before Hurricane Season Arrives
By Sandra Cook • Photography by Jack Thompson
As summer approaches, we hear the same warnings every year: Prepare now for the upcoming hurricane season. And again, take heed: The warnings are serious and everyone should know and remember the devastation hurricane winds, rain and surge can create.
The National Weather Service has declared May 3-7 Hurricane Preparedness Week, offering a seven-day plan to help prepare for a potential destructive force of nature. The Gulf Coast area — and even communities far from the coastline — can be threatened by the dangerous winds, flooding, tornadoes and massive damage.
Take the time now to prepare before a storm makes landfall.
Know your risk by monitoring media, including television, radio and social media outlets. Develop an evacuation plan well in advance in the event a storm surge threatens your home and neighborhood. Know where you will be going and have your vehicle ready (gassed up) in case you must leave in a hurry.
Assemble enough supplies (food, water, bedding, batteries, etc.) that will get you through at least a week. Be aware utilities may be turned off in your area for an extended period of time. Have nonperishable and canned goods, at least a gallon of water per person, medications, cash (banks and ATMs closed), a crank or battery operated radio and flashlights. Also have a manual can opener and a first aid kit on hand. And don’t forget toiletries and personal hygiene items.
Have food, water, toys and leashes on hand. If you have to leave, take your pets with you or arrange for their removal to a safe place.
Check with your agent to make sure all policies are up-to-date and coverage is adequate for the home, car and boat. Remember, homeowners’ policies do not cover flooding, and flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period before it is valid.
Also, secure important papers (insurance policies, wills, medical records, bank info, deeds or mortgages, birth and marriage certificates and recent tax returns) in a safe waterproof and fireproof location.
Of equal importance, get your house ready. Perhaps the most vulnerable places in your home are the windows. There are several techniques for protecting the windows, but each requires attention in advance.
For instance, Mike Fjetland of Armor Glass explains that windows can be protected with a high-tech film applied on each windowpane.
“Windows are the weakest link of the building,” he says. “If you protect your windows, you protect your home.”
The film, which is four times thicker than solar films, offers a shield of defense against flying debris, even if the glass breaks. The clear or tinted film, applied directly to each pane, also serves as a safety net against heat, sun and even burglars who try to break windows to enter a home.
Another way to safeguard windows is to have custom coverings made. Richard Paulson, owner of a Touch of Class, explains that any opening is susceptible to damage. His products include lightweight, nylon-hybrid translucent fabrics affixed to the outside of each frame capable of protecting windows in a Category 5 hurricane with 200 mph winds.
“The Hurricane Fabric is not invasive. The fasteners remain on the exterior of the house, and you just install each covering by snapping it into its corresponding window. It probably takes about five minutes for each,” he says, adding that storing the items is easy, as they fold up into a small bag.
Many problems arise after the storm for homeowners when electrical utility lines are down and until power is restored. Having a generator, either a portable one or a home-style standby power system, is necessary to keep appliances running and eliminating the problem of surges.
Burt Koenig of Kiss Generators notes that in the greater Houston area, electric grids are often overloaded even when there is no hurricane, and there is a potential for power failure. Having a customized generator available will save the plethora of electronic devices in a home when power is restored because the house will be protected against surges.
“A surge could fry the computers in the refrigerators, televisions, washers — almost all appliances have a computer in them,” says Koenig. “At least with a generator, you will have uninterrupted service that mitigates surges.”
An often forgotten item to check prior to any storm is the roof. Paul Martin with Shamrock Roofing urges homeowners to get their roofs inspected before any storm season. During Hurricane Ike, between 20 to 40 percent of all homes damages suffered roof problems.
“A lot of those problems could have been avoided. Loose shingles, vents or flashing can be addressed ahead of time,” says Martin, who notes his company does free inspections. “The last thing you want to be is in a long line of insurers waiting for a new roof after a storm.
“As our grandparents used to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Martin says.
A Touch of Class Custom Cabinets
Armor Glass International Inc.
John’s Shutters & Repair
Shamrock Roofing of Spring