Steps to protect your home

The peak of hurricane season is now upon us, and this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects to see an above-normal Atlantic storm season.

What home owners need to do to protect their properties…

Cover windows with plywood. Don’t try to do this alone — and don’t wait until the last minute. Cutting plywood to size and securing it over a typical home’s windows is a full-day job for two physically fit people. Alternative: Polycarbonate is stronger than plywood and lighter and easier to maneuver. It’s available at many home stores in hurricane-prone regions.

If you live in an area at frequent risk for hurricanes, you might want to invest in storm shutters. These are very easy to close but cost around $400 to $800 per window, including professional installation.

Attach window coverings properly. Neither plywood nor polycarbonate will protect windows if high winds pull the coverings off. The most secure method is to use screws at least two inches long — never nails — positioned every 12 to 16 inches around the window’s perimeter. Screw into sleeve anchors or expanding anchors, not into the wall. When hurricane season is over, you can use vinyl screw hole covers — available in most hardware stores in hurricane-prone areas — to cover up the holes where the plywood was attached.

If you have a brick or stucco home, you can use PLYLOX window clips — they can hold plywood in window casings without your having to drill holes in walls.

Label window covers. Note on each cover which window it fits and which side is up — to save time when you put them up in later years.

Don’t trust an “X” of tape to protect windows and glass doors. Tape does nothing to protect windows during a hurricane and virtually nothing to prevent glass shards from flying around the room if the window does shatter.

Secure the garage. Garage doors often are blown in or sucked out during hurricanes. Double-wide doors are particularly vulnerable. Many garage-door makers sell reinforcement kits.

Trim trees. Trim any tree branch that could scrape against your shingles or siding if a strong wind blows it in that direction — do this each year before hurricane season. Remove dying trees and any dead branches that could snap off and hit your home.

Know where your home’s water, gas and electric cutoffs are located. You might need to turn these off in a hurry if a water pipe breaks in the storm… you smell gas… or walls are torn open and wiring is exposed.

Take “before” photos. Use a camera or video camera to record your home, possessions and landscaping before the hurricane strikes. This will help you make an insurance claim later, if necessary.

Don’t drain the pool or leave it empty. Water protects pools against falling debris and prevents high winds from pulling pools out of the ground or off the ground in the case of aboveground pools. Don’t worry about the pool overflowing in the storm — pools can cope with that.

Bring filter lids and other easily removed pool components inside so that they do not blow away.