• Prepare Your Roof
  • If you have an exterior television antenna, you may want to disconnect and remove it.

  • Remove roof turbines and cover the holes where they were installed. Otherwise, high winds could remove them for you, leaving a gaping hole through which heavy rain could come into your home to do damage.

  • Check for loose or damaged shingles, and seal around flashings, chimneys or vent pipes if necessary. A roof in good repair is much better able to stand the torture inflicted upon it by a storm. For more on roof repair, visit How to Repair Shingled Roofing.

  • Check for loose and clogged gutters and downspouts. Backed-up gutters can send water flowing into your home in the event of heavy rains. For detailed information, see How To Maintain Your Gutters.

  • If your roof is damaged in a storm, use tarps secured with ropes and nails to cover it as soon as you can. Heavy rains usually occur during and after a hurricane, and water can cause devastating damage to the interior of your home. Any step you can take to minimize water damage will help.

  • Cover Those Windows

If you live in an area vulnerable to hurricanes, consider installing storm shutters. They are available in several different types, and will go a long way toward keeping the damaging wind and rain from entering through your home's windows. As a side benefit, they may reduce your home insurance premium.

  • Secure The Doors

Steel entry doors provide the best protection for your home. Double doors and French doors are most vulnerable to high winds. But no matter what type of door you've got, a hurricane panel is your best option to keep damage at a minimum. These galvanized steel or PVC panels are available at Lowe's. You can also nail plywood over your doors for protection and to help keep out water and debris.

If you have double doors that have no structural member in the center between them, you may need to purchase and install special hardware to more adequately secure the doors where they meet. Bolts which secure the door into the framing at both the top and bottom greatly increase the door's strength. Wedge sliding glass doors with a dowel or piece of broom handle to prevent them from jumping their tracks when the wind howls.

Provide stiffening support for garage doors. The pressure from winds increases with the door's size, and wide doors particularly need bracing for stability during high winds. Make your own vertical supports by nailing two 2x4s together and attaching them vertically to the inside of your garage door with "L" brackets. Use as many as you feel are necessary to support your door.

  • Button Up the Yard

Flailing tree limbs may pose a danger in high winds. Trim trees to avoid the possibility of large limbs doing damage to your house. Also, selectively thinning out the branches to allow wind to more easily pass through and will reduce the potential for damage to the tree itself. Dead or damaged branches should be removed, otherwise they could become flying missiles aimed straight for your house or that of your neighbors.

Lawn furniture, ornaments, toys, grills and exterior potted plants should be taken inside. Anything that can't be brought in should be tied down. Sheds, doghouses, playhouses, swing sets, and boat trailers should be secured with tie-downs, turnbuckles and cable or stout rope. Concrete tie-down spaces are a good home improvement in areas susceptible to hurricanes. If you don't have concrete mounted tie-downs when the weather threatens, screw type tie-downs secured deep in the ground must suffice.

If you live in a mobile home it is particularly important that you inspect and repair your home's tie-downs.

  • Cars, Trucks and Boats

If you live in a low-lying area, move your car, truck or boat to higher ground, preferably to an enclosed garage or warehouse.

If you must leave a boat behind, don't leave it in the water. If the boat's left outside, anchor the trailer tongue of a trailered boat to a firm spot on the ground. Lash the boat to the trailer; let some air out of the tires. Add water for weight, but make sure you keep it below engine level. Stow all loose gear (outriggers, canvas tops, etc.) and remove electronics and other valuables to avoid damage and theft. Cover the boat to keep additional water and debris out.

  • Protect Your Family, Too!

The No. 1 rule: Get every member of your household involved. Set aside time for a family meeting to discuss the following:

  • An Evacuation Package: We're talking keepsakes here - personal items you'd hate to lose, things insurance could never replace. Examples: your children's baby books and photos, an heirloom quilt. Place them in a water and fire proof container. Include important family documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies. Make sure everyone knows where the package is kept and assign a family member responsibility for it in case you need to evacuate.

  • Safety Kit: Put together a safety kit. Include a first aid kit and essential medications, a fire extinguisher, packaged or canned non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener, water (no more than 6 months old - mark the date) in a non-breakable container, protective clothing, rainwear and blankets. Make sure everyone in the household knows where this kit is kept.

  • Emergency Contact: Pick someone to call (a friend or family member out of state) in case a hurricane hits or you need to evacuate. This contact can be the person who lets others know where you are and that you're safe so you won't have to spend precious time doing so.

  • Hurricane Safety

The Atlantic hurricane season begins in June and lasts through the end of November. There are simple steps families can take before and after a storm that will go a long way toward increased hurricane safety. By following these hurricane preparedness guidelines, you can increase your family's safety as well as the stability and security of your home.

  • If you live in a coastal area, install hurricane shutters to protect windows and doors from powerful winds.

  • Remove dead and diseased trees and branches. Weak trees and branches are easily broken off by hurricane winds and may damage a home.

  • Identify items in the yard that should be brought inside in case of a hurricane. Items such as lawn furniture and trash cans may become airborne during a severe storm.

  • If in a coastal community, elevate the home. This can help minimize the damage to property because of floods and storm surges.

  • Hurricanes bring intense rainfall. Keep rain gutters, outside stairwells, window wells, drain lines and down sprouts clean to prevent flooding.

  • Ask an insurance agent or local emergency management office for information about the National Flood Insurance Program. Regular homeowner policies do not cover damage from flooding that may result from a hurricane.

  • Every family should have a disaster plan which helps avoid or lessen the impact of a natural disaster. Use Home Safety Council guidelines to develop a family emergency plan and create a disaster supply kit.

  • During a storm, gather your family in the safest area of your home, an interior room without windows, usually on the first floor of the house or building.

  • Always follow official instructions before, during and after a hurricane. If evacuation was necessary, do not return home until authorities say to do so.

  • After returning home, stay away from all storm damaged areas.