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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Securing Your Home and Property for a Hurricane

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    When a hurricane is on the way, your family’s safety is your top priority. Of course, how well your home and property will fare in the storm is not far from your mind. If you’re wondering how to prepare for a hurricane as a homeowner, Tractor Supply is here to help with a stocked inventory of hurricane supplies. Here, we offer advice about securing your home and yard before a hurricane.

    Steps to Take Before Hurricane Season

    Hurricane season starts on June 1 in the Atlantic and Caribbean and May 15 in the North Pacific. The season ends on November 30. Many hurricane prepping tasks should be done outside of the hurricane season – this way, you are prepared for anything that comes your way, without having to scramble for last-minute supplies or to complete projects. 

    Hurricane preparedness tasks you can complete any other time of the year include: 

    1. Consider investing in a generator.

    Generators are the ultimate backup power source during severe and extreme weather. They keep devices and appliances in your home running, helping you to maintain normalcy as much as possible. If you need help navigating your generator options, Tractor Supply is here to answer any questions. We carry the following generator options:

    Learn more about picking the right generator with Tractor Supply’s generator FAQs

    2. Install water pumps and sump pumps. 

    If you have a basement or crawlspace or live in a flood-prone area, invest in water pumps, which can help move water outside of your home if it floods. If your home has a sump pit in the basement or crawlspace but does not have a water sump pump, strongly consider installing one. A sump pump relocates water from a sump pit underneath the basement or crawlspace floor to the outside of the home. Sump pumps have valves that can determine when water levels or pressure is rising, so they play a big role in preventing flooding and moisture accumulation in crawl spaces and basements. 

    3. Reinforce, repair or replace other exterior elements of your home. 

    As soon as a problem pops up with your home’s exterior, address it as soon as possible. This way, the issue won’t add to the threats you face if a hurricane comes in your direction. For instance, it’s recommended to replace rock or gravel landscaping materials with lighter, fire-resistant materials, which wouldn’t cause as much harm to your yard or home. Also be sure to address indoor or outdoor drainage issues, and make sure the foundation and ceilings are free of cracks or signs of structural damage. 

    Additionally, outside wall openings should be sealed, including garden hose bibs, outdoor electrical outlets and anywhere pipes and cables go through walls. If you have a boat on a trailer at your home, ensure you are prepared to anchor the trailer to the ground properly. You’ll also want to stock up on sandbags and flood barriers, as they might be hard to find in stock in the hours before a hurricane. 

    4. Secure entry doors, windows and garage doors. 

    A hurricane’s winds are a minimum of 74 MPH (Category 1) and may exceed 157 MPH (Category 5). If wind pressure comes inside your home via windows or doors, the pressure can build up and cause windows to blow out, the roof to cave in and other structural damage. Be sure to address any issues present by making repairs or upgrades, such as:

    • Ensuring all windows and door components are in working condition and can lock properly
    • Having at least three hinges on each exterior door, as well as a deadbolt door lock at least 1” long
    • Installing tempered glass in sliding glass doors
    • Investing in pressure-resistant and impact-rated doors and windows
    • Replacing old garage doors and their tracks with ones that meet the latest impact codes
    • Filling gaps in window frames and doorways to keep wind outside of the home
    • Reinforcing door jambs, locks and hinges, as well as bolts* for securing the tops and bottoms of double doors 
    • Bracing garage doors with reinforced braces** and using an L bracket to attach braces to the garage’s floor
    • Having storm shutters*** or plywood boards at the ready for if/when a storm comes

    If your garage is attached to your home, taking care of its doors and windows is equally important as the rest of your home. Wind can easily rip through flimsy garage doors and send pressure into the home, which could bring severe structural damage and dangerous situations for your family. You should also be aware of similar risks if you have double doors or French-style doors, as these open inward and are highly vulnerable to a hurricane’s forceful winds.

    *You can find reinforced bolt kits from certain manufacturers. 
    **Using two 2’ by 4’ braces (one bolted to the other) is recommended for strength. You may need more or less material to reinforce the entire length of your garage doors, depending on their size and how many you have. 
    ***Hurricane shutters should pass the 1994 Southern Building Congress (SBC-94) codes. SBC-94-rated shutters are designed to withstand the force of a piece of debris flying through the air, traveling at high speeds of even hundreds of miles per hour. When purchasing hurricane shutters, get certification documentation stating the shutters as impact-resistant, and get written assurance that they will be installed according to SBC-94 codes.

    5. Gather and store important documents and valuables in a safe place.

    When it comes to how to prepare for a hurricane, you should always plan for the worst-case scenario. It’s crucial to have all of your family’s important documents, from social security cards and birth certificates to passports and ID cards, and any other pertinent legal documents in the event of an emergency. You should also have a safe place to store your family’s valuables, like treasured family photos, emergency cash and checks and more. If you are a gun owner, you’ll also need a secure, dry location to store your weapons and ammunition. A traditional safe or water-resistant, fireproof gun safe are two strongly recommended options. 

    6. Inspect, repair and fortify your roof and gutters. 

    Roofs and gutters are highly vulnerable to the high winds, hail and rainfall of a hurricane, especially if the storm is also producing tornadoes. Some roof types are more likely to be damaged than others, such as gable-end roof styles. No matter the season, it pays off to ensure your roof and gutters are damage-free and all repairs are completed. Loose shingles, inadequate vertical and horizontal bracing for trusses and other issues may seem minor, but they can result in major damage to your roof during a strong storm like a hurricane. Damaged roofs can also allow water to pour into the home, causing even larger headaches. 

    Give yourself plenty of time to inspect and address any problem areas in your roof and gutters. You don’t want to be scrambling to complete these repairs in the days leading up to a hurricane. Gutters are usually simple to maintain – keep them clean and free of debris, which could cause water to pool up instead of run off the gutters, leading to potential moisture damage. Dysfunctional downspouts must also be fixed due to similar concerns. Some common roof repairs include:

    • Installing hurricane straps, code requirements that support the connection of the roof to the walls
    • Ensuring plywood sheathing is attached correctly, using nails instead of staples
    • Upgrading older skylights to newer ones built with current codes
    • Adding protection to vents on gabled ends or removing and capping rotary roof vents 
    • Replacing aluminum or thin-vinyl soffits with more durable options to keep wind from entering the attic and causing structural failure
    • Trimming tree limbs and branches that may obstruct or threaten the home*
    • Sealing around flashings and chimneys for reinforcement 
    • Having a certified building inspector or structural engineer check for the following:
      • Hurricane anchors and straps that are correctly anchored to tie beams
      • Adequate nails used to secure each anchor
      • Proper horizontal and vertical bracing for roof trusses (especially on gable ends)
      • Properly attached roof sheathing panels
      • The condition of roof tiles, soffits and flashings

    It’s highly recommended to leave these tasks to a licensed and insured contractor, who has the qualifications and training to work on roof repairs safely and effectively**. If you must do these tasks on your own, take great care with your footing, avoiding power lines, antennas, exposed nails and fiberglass. If working in your attic, only step on the joists and watch your head. As always, be mindful when working in the heat. Another important reminder is to never cover plumbing vent stacks for any reason, as sewer gas escapes through these and could become harmful when not released from the vent stacks. 

    *It is not recommended to cut tree branches and limbs in the days leading up to a hurricane. This is because the branches and limbs could turn into harmful blowing debris, which could damage your home or vehicles or harm your neighbor’s property. Regularly maintain troublesome tree limbs and branches so you don’t have to worry about this task when a hurricane is about to make landfall. 

    **Never sign with a contractor who proposes to do the job without pulling a permit. Contact your local building department and ask that they review the plans and inspect the completed job. 

    What to Do During a Hurricane Watch/Warning 

    When a hurricane is forecasted to affect your area, some swift actions should be taken to further protect your home and property. These include:

    1. Install storm shutters or use plywood boards to reinforce windows. 

    This is one of the most important steps to include on your hurricane preparedness list. Most people will find it virtually impossible to buy and install shutters or plywood boards in the days leading up to the storm, so already have them on hand (as detailed previously). No matter how small they are, every window of your home must be protected during a hurricane – the threat of broken glass from flying debris and high winds is too great to risk it otherwise.

    If you opt for storm shutters, make sure you find ones that are code-approved and sufficiently cover all of your windows, including windows on doors. You can also opt to use plywood boards instead. Hurricane shutters or plywood boards should be mounted to the wall surrounding the window, not the window frame itself. This transfers the impact’s force from the window to the wall to minimize damage. Install second-story or more difficult shutters or plywood boards first. 

    2. Secure loose items in your yard and on your roof.

    Take down flags, satellite dishes, television antennas*, roof turbines and anything else that could be hanging from or secured to your roof. If these items leave holes behind, be sure to cover them to prevent water and wind from penetrating the roof. Around your lawn or yard, use heavy-duty straps, tie-downs and tarps from your hurricane kit to cover and secure any items that could blow in the wind. Outdoor furniture, plants and decor should be stored indoors whenever possible. Set out self-inflating flood bags, sandbags or other flood barriers. You may need winches and hardware to help you complete these hurricane preparedness tasks. 

    *Be sure to unplug your television before attempting to lower an outdoor antenna. Take great care not to allow antennae anywhere near your power lines. 

    3. Complete other tasks for preparing your home’s interior and exterior. 

    By the time a hurricane watch or warning is issued, you should have everything on your hurricane supply list in an easily accessible location, from emergency foods and coolers to an emergency radio and propane for the grill*. As the storm approaches, be sure to complete tasks like:

    • Disconnecting propane at the gas tank, even if you don’t evacuate
    • Shutting off electricity and other utilities with pliers or wrenches when evacuating, if there are downed power lines or you see flooding
    • Unplugging major appliances to prevent a power surge after electricity is restored
    • Putting fresh batteries in flashlights, lanterns, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Placing loose items into drawers or cabinets
    • Using battery chargers for power tools and other devices in case of a power outage
    • Having fire extinguishers, heat sourcesemergency tools and related items on standby
    • Draining in-ground swimming pools by 6” to 12” to allow room for heavy rainfall
    • Super-chlorinating swimming pools to avoid contamination, as well as disconnecting and protecting electrical pumps and equipment
    • Disconnecting propane gas tanks from outdoor grills and storing them indoors**
    • Ensuring your vehicles and spare gas cans are filled with fuel
    • Turning refrigerators and freezers to the coldest settings and freezing water in plastic jugs
    • Cleaning your bathtubs with bleach, rinsing them thoroughly and letting them dry
    • Sealing all tub and shower drains with silicone caulk
    • Preparing your safe room or storm shelter with sleeping bags, snacks, and anything you’ll need for riding out the hurricane, including your fully stocked hurricane kit
    • Closing all windows as the storm begins.***

    You may be met with traffic and low inventory if you save trips to the grocery store and gas station for the last minute, so try to do those things in advance.
    **Never use gas grills indoors. 
    ***It’s a myth that keeping windows open on one side of the house will equalize pressure during a storm. 

    Learn More About Hurricane Prep with Tractor Supply

    Tractor Supply is here to support the communities we serve throughout anything Life Out Here throws at them, including hurricanes. Get your hurricane preparedness supplies now by shopping with us online or visiting your local Tractor Supply store

    Please note: This information is general and is not intended to replace or override any of the advice, warnings, or information given by local officials, FEMA, NOAA or any other official regulatory organization or government branch regarding storm safety in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, floods or any other natural disaster or man-made disaster. Always follow take-cover recommendations, evacuation orders and any other advice given by local officials for your area, regardless of whether it is similar to or different from the information on TractorSupply.com.