Though hurricane season may only be during a particular time of the year - typically beginning in June and ending in the month of November - Mother Nature has a way of dealing homeowners with an unexpected storm during parts of the year when temperatures especially warm.
With this in mind, it's not unusual for home inspection professionals to be peppered with questions throughout the year regarding how people can prepare themselves and their biggest financial investment - their home - so that it can withstand harsh winds and heavy rain. Fortunately, a variety of preparatory and emergency organizations have provided tips on how to go about the hurricane preparation process.
Identify trees and greenery that could pose threat
As anyone who's experienced a hurricane in the past knows, hurricanes have so much strength that they can tear trees from their roots or cause them to fall over. Thus, homeowners who are in heavily wooded areas need to be keenly aware of the threat trees can pose. If there's any indication that a tree has the potential to fall - such as if it's already leaning over or its roots are showing - it's a good idea to hire a professional who can make an assessment as to what trees ought to be removed.
Meanwhile, homeowners can spend their time taking care of the immediate vicinity of the home by paring back branches on nearby trees and shrubs. This will help make them more wind resistant and less likely to scratch a home's outer surface.
Board up windows
Perhaps the strongest, most forceful component of hurricanes are the gale-force winds they are capable of producing, enough to shatter unprotected windows. It's a smart idea to close up these windows by installing temporary shutters, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency says should ideally be made of plywood and be about 5/8ths of an inch thick. An even better idea is to have permanent storm shutters installed, as this will make it easier to prepare the next time a storm occurs.
Some reinforcements may be needed in other parts of the home that are vulnerable to wind. Consider consulting with a home inspection company to ask them about the type of door that one should have that can withstand heavy wind gusts. They may say the door that's installed is fine or they could recommend an alternative, made from a harder wood, such as mahogany or oak.
Unplug cords if hurricane is near
Depending on the risk for flooding - another weather disaster that can come as a result of hurricanes - it may additionally be wise to unplug all of the appliances from their outlets when a storm is imminent. In a number of cases, some of these devices may continue to work if high water levels affect them. But if they're plugged into the wall, the likelihood of them operating without a problem diminishes because of the risk of an electrical surge.
Speaking of flooding, should it occur, the best chance for it happening is in the basement, given it's traditionally the lowest portion of a house. This is when having a home inspection done really pays off, as they're able to spot cracks in the foundation that can lead to flood and what can be done to correct the issue.
Last year was a particularly active season for hurricanes. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as the National Hurricane Center, there were 10 hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic in 2012, only one of which made landfall. This does not include Superstorm Sandy, which did not meet the traditional definition of a hurricane because it was classified as a post-tropical storm when it hit.