Tips for preparing windows for storm weather

If you live in an area that experiences a lot of windstorms, hurricanes or tornadoes, you need to be especially prepared in case your home takes a big hit from Mother Nature.

Tips for preparing windows for storm weather

Windows

  • Get the best windows you can afford, because they are the most vulnerable parts of the house in a windstorm.
  • Not only can the wind shatter the glass and let in rain, but very strong winds can stream through a broken window and exert enough upward pressure on the roof to blow it off. If this happens, the walls of the house could also collapse.

Shutters

  • You can buy removable and roll-down metal storm shutters to protect glass doors and windows.
  • If you don't want to invest in commercial shutters, the best option is to board up your windows when a storm approaches. This preparation needs to be done in advance, because you won't have time to measure, cut to fit, and install boards after a storm warning is given.
  • Use one centimetre (1/2 inch)- or preferably two centimetre (3/4 inch)-thick outdoor plywood and cut it 13 centimetres (5 inches) larger than the window on all sides.
  • So that you can install them quickly when the time comes, predrill screw holes along the edges of the plywood 20 to 30 centimetres (eight to 12 inches) apart; install anchors in corresponding parts of the studs around the windows (not in the flimsy window frames). When the hurricane comes, you'll only need to position the boards and drive in the screws.

Garages

  • Garage doors are just as vulnerable as windows in a windstorm. If the garage door is compromised, a domino effect where garage — and even house — walls and roofs can collapse rapidly.
  • Invest in a hurricane-rated door or a code-approved metal bracing system to minimize possible damage.

Insurance

  • If your home suffers damage, you may need proof of how things were to justify insurance claims or tax deductions for losses. This is why it makes sense not just to make a list of all your furniture, appliances, and other contents of your home, but to take photos (or video) of everything.
  • Write down serial numbers, where applicable, and save receipts for big-ticket purchases.
  • Store these photos and records in a safety deposit box or another safe, off-site location.

Shingles

  • Roofs are vulnerable to high winds, which will lift any loose edges and tear away shingles.
  • Before the storm season starts, look for any loose or cracked shingles and repair them right away (or hire someone to do this for you, if you can't work in high places). Driving rains will find and enlarge the tiniest openings, resulting in bad leaks that can damage the rooms below.

Trees

  • During a windstorm, trees and limbs can fall onto your house and cause severe damage.
  • Prune away some inside branches of the trees near your house — the less dense branches are, the more wind can pass through them. You should also check your trees for signs of weakness: Remove any trees that are drying out, leaning more than 15 degrees, or have heavily damaged roots.
  • Hurricanes and other windstorms frequently blow down power lines, causing power outages. An emergency generator will allow you to keep running essential appliances and lights. This is particularly important for people who rely on electrical medical equipment.
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