Hurricane season is here, and this year is shaping up to be quite a doozy. Although North Carolina isn’t the most common target for hurricanes, we’re not entirely safe – especially if you live in Wilmington or near the coast. Hurricanes can be unpredictable. There are times when a hurricane is supposed to wreak havoc, but barely touches us. On other occasions, the hurricane may take us by surprise.
Prepare for a hurricane now, so you can weather the worst of the storms. This checklist covers the basic preparations you can take both well before a hurricane – and when it’s imminent.
When Hurricane Season Begins
Have an evacuation plan.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety will have all the information you need on evacuation routes. If evacuation is recommended – leave! Have an evacuation plan in place beforehand, and rehearse it. Each family member should know exactly what he or she is responsible for bringing.
You should also know in advance where you plan to go. Are there relatives within driving distance? Is there a town you’d love to check out that’s out of the way of the storm? Evacuation doesn’t have to be total chaos. It can even be a last-minute vacation! (Just don’t forget to adjust your thermostat settings.)
Trim your trees.
Keeping the trees trimmed is a pain. After all, those saggy limbs don’t do much harm, except possibly to your curb appeal. But if a hurricane comes calling, you’ll regret that you’ve let those trees get out of hand. Hurricane-force winds can snap entire trees, causing damage to your roof or your cars. Overhanging limbs can tear down gates, break windows, and wreak havoc on your property. If you’re still at home when this happens, it makes the situation a lot more risky.
Get a portable generator.
A portable generator can supply you with power for your basic needs for 200 hours; that’s over a week! When your cell phone and laptop die, your food is starting to spoil, and you’re desperately in need of a cup of coffee, that portable generator is going to be a real lifesaver.
Prepare For a Hurricane
Have an emergency plan.
If you don’t have time to evacuate, pick a place on the ground floor of your home and stock it with emergency supplies. The location should be as far as possible from any windows – a hall bathroom is ideal. Prepare for a hurricane by putting flashlights, candles, and matches in the room ahead of time, so they’re already there. Bring any necessary supplies or medications you might need, so you don’t need to leave the shelter during the storm.
If the storm is expected to be particularly bad, you may want to have a mattress nearby. You can use the mattress to protect yourself from debris if it your roof is damaged or destroyed.
If your neighborhood is affected by a hurricane, your whole area may be without power, water, or telephone service for quite some time. Stocking gallons of water and lots of canned goods ensures that you’ll have enough food to last you through the disaster if it becomes impossible to leave the immediate area. Think ahead. Every family has a different needs; what can’t you do without?
Hours Before the Hurricane
Cover your windows.
What’s the most vulnerable point of entry in your home? Your windows. Glass doesn’t stand a chance against hurricane-strength winds or flying objects. Once your windows are open to the elements, water damage is a given. Flying glass is dangerous, as are any projectiles those winds might fling through your windows. The pressure change inside your home can even lift your roof off or collapse your walls.
If you don’t have storm shutters, nail or screw sheets of plywood to the outside of your house (not your window frames!). Use thick plywood (⅝” should do the trick) and secure the boards to an area several inches wider than your windows on all sides. You can even pre-drill the holes and keep the pre-cut plywood on hand so you’re ready if you need it.
Secure potential flying objects.
The more you can do to prepare for a hurricane, the better. Hurricane winds are at least 75 miles per hour, and can exceed 150 miles per hour. Shingles, tree branches, stray yard toys, downspouts, loose gutters, and even your garage door could become weaponized in winds of that speed, shattering windows and doing tremendous damage to your home. The breach of an attached garage will cause air pressure changes that can blow your roof off or create cracks in your siding. Make sure you secure your garage door. When it comes to anything outside, if you can nail it down or bring it inside, do so!
Garage doors in storm-prone areas are required to meet building code requirements in order to stand up to most hurricanes. However, you also need to make sure your mounting area and track are secured with heavy-gauge brackets. If your garage door isn’t up to snuff, secure it with a bracing system — you’ll be able to find a good one at your local hardware store. Likewise, make sure your gutters and downspouts are attached to the house and ready to drain.
Fill your gas tank.
As you prepare for a hurricane, don’t forget to fill up your gas tank. Top it off before the storm hits in case you need to get out of town quickly. Make a stop at the gas station a priority as soon as you hear that a bad storm is on its way.
While you’re at it, keep an (actual) map in the car. You never know which public utilities might be down, and that includes cell phone towers. If you’re driving out of town, you just might need a good old-fashioned paper map in your glovebox.
Count on Newcomb and Company
Once the dust has settled and the trees are cleared, contact Newcomb and Company if your HVAC, heating, or plumbing systems need repair. If you need emergency service during a storm, you can reach us on our emergency line at 919-833-7731.
In the more than 60 years we’ve been in operation in North Carolina, we’ve seen our fair share of bad hurricanes. We know what it takes to prepare for a hurricane – and how to get your home back up and running. You aren’t just our customers. You’re our neighbors. And you can count on us. After the storm ends, our work begins.