As many people know, El Niño is upon us. Tropical cyclones over the Atlantic Ocean, also known has hurricanes, commonly occur in the eastern and southern United States during the months of June to November and can be a huge threat if you are unprepared. Here are some tips to stay ahead of the storm and on top of your game. (Trying to get your home ready for winter? Take a look at some of our tips for winterizing your home.)

Stormproof Your Home With These 5 Tips

1. Bring anything not anchored in the yard inside

The best way to avoid damage to your house or rental is prevention. Move patio furniture, toys, potted plants, and anything else that can be lifted up by strong winds indoors. A Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale has winds of a least 74 mph, while a Category 5 storm can have winds topping out at 156 mph. These winds can easily lift up many items, even in a Category 1. Any of these objects hurling at your windows at 156 mph (or even at 74 mph) could potentially do a lot of damage. Additionally, keeping plants pruned and rid of detritus will assist in minimizing the damage to your property.

2. Buy a home generator

Oftentimes during violent storms, electrical companies lose power to affected areas and as a result residents and visitors will be left completely in the dark. Having a stash of spare batteries with flashlights, as well as back up candles with matches, are essential for surviving any storm. However, a generator can help temporarily restore power to your home. Make sure to keep it outside out of the rain if possible to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Lastly, it is wise to unplug any electronics in the case of a lightning strike on the house. Surge protectors are useful but cannot guarantee the safety of your electronics.

3. Impact-rated windows and doors or hurricane shutters

Numerous insurance companies charge high premiums for houses without storm proofing, and this is method to help bring down that cost. For a new house in a hurricane-prone area, building with impact-rated windows and doors is ideal because they require no preparation once a hurricane is announced and are actually harder for burglars to break through. Retro-fitting these windows can be expensive, however, especially if windows that are not impact rated have already been installed. The cheaper option is to purchase and install hurricane shutters to prevent shrapnel from breaking your windows and jettisoning the shards into your home. These are effective but take some time assemble, so as soon as the hurricane warning is issued these should be put up.

4. Garage door bracing systems and The DoorDam

Garage doors are often not reinforced, and in the areas most effected by hurricanes, city codes mandate that garage doors need to withstand up to 150 mph. This is usually the weakest area of the house and where the most damage is done. Make sure your garage door has a vertical bracing system, a steel track, and is made of steel or fiberglass to prevent twisting. If buying a new garage door is not in the cards, you can buy a kit and install the reinforcement yourself. The DoorDam also creates a water resistant barrier around the entrances to your house that can assist in preventing flooding and takes the place of messy sandbags.

5. Roof sheathing added to trusses on the roof with ring-shank nails

Roof sheathing is highly important to the survival of your house and the roof that covers you. If your roof collapses, it does for more damage than most exterior destruction. Ensuring the thick plywood of roof sheathing is fastened firmly to the roof frame, which may have to be retroactively done or can be done while installing a new roof. It is essential to use certain ring shank nails spaced no farther apart than 6 inches. There are guides for how to do this online, or you can hire a roofing company.

This article was written by Lindy Tolbert.