If contending with a global pandemic, murder hornets, and a slew of other disasters that 2020 decided to throw at us wasn’t enough, hurricane season is now in full swing.
The Atlantic hurricane season typically lasts from June to November, and peaks from late August through September. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is anticipating above-normal activity. Its Climate Prediction Center has forecasted 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher).
As we’ve learned from years past, preparation is key. But this can feel like a daunting task, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many resources and supplies are limited.
However, there are some key things you can do to ensure your home is protected.
Prep your home early
Shopping in the days before a storm can be worse than braving Black Friday crowds. Items are in high demand, and time is short. So prepare your home early, especially when it comes to big-ticket items.
Lowe’s Carolina Coast district manager, Sean Reilly, says certain items are the first to go when a storm is announced.
“Generators are obviously a big one, and knowing how to use them properly is important,” Reilly says.
While Reilly says Lowe’s has plans in place to expedite orders of safety supplies in the event of a hurricane, it’s always best to stock up as early as you can.
There are some items you can even buy in advance of storm season, such as plywood for your windows or hurricane shutters.
“We can actually cut plywood to your specifications and have it delivered to your home,” Reilly says.
If you’re anticipating a major cleanup in your yard or home, it’s wise to stock up on lawn equipment, trash bags, mold spray, and cleaning supplies.
Keep in mind that the pandemic has had an impact on home improvement stores, many of which have stayed open throughout quarantine. Many folks are using their time at home to work on indoor and outdoor projects, and standard items are in high demand.
“I’ve certainly spoken to more homeowners who are doing projects around their house right now,” Reilly says.
Do your projects now
If you’ve been putting off home repairs, now might be the time to do them. Of course, landscaping your flower bed should wait if heavy rains are expected, so think of the things you can do to protect your home.
“Your roof is your first line of defense from a rain standpoint,” Reilly says. “Maybe you’ve ignored some warning signs—discoloration on your walls or ceilings inside—that you could fix up. Doing so can make sure your roof can withstand not only the rains but also the winds that can be damaging.”
Make sure your gutters are clean and correctly positioned to direct storm runoff away from your home and to the right parts of the yard.
And if windows are damaged or not well-insulated, have them looked at.
Finally, take spring cleaning to heart—regardless of the actual season. Reilly says it’s the perfect time to organize places like your garage or basement, which likely house valuable items at risk of storm damage.
“You can take care of family heirlooms, photos from weddings, kids’ pictures, anything you can put in a bin or plastic tote, and store up high in the event that water does get into your home,” he says.
Get a checklist for little items, too.
“This is the worst time in the world to find out that the batteries in your flashlight don’t work, or you don’t have emergency candles, or you don’t have a cooler when your refrigerator stopped working,” Reilly says.
In short, buy these items early.
“It’s about expecting the unexpected and planning for what could happen instead of what you hope happens,” he says.
Consider a major investment
It can be easy to make excuses for why certain home improvement projects aren’t priorities. Many are costly and involve a lot of time and effort.
But prepping for a hurricane season before it begins each year means tackling those bigger projects head-on. A great example is with impact windows.
“Impact windows are designed, engineered, and manufactured to withstand severe coastal weather conditions, offering the greatest protection for your coastal home,” says Melissa Meyers, product Manager for Andersen Windows & Doors in Bayport, MN.
Even if your home never sees another storm, impact windows are good insulators, which means saving money on your power bill throughout the year.
Prices vary based on your home and the scope of the work, but expect to spend several thousand dollars to replace your windows. The good news? You won’t need to buy hurricane shutters, and the windows bring added value to your home—and bring you peace of mind.