Taking steps to protect against a hurricane

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Taking steps to protect against a hurricaine

June 2, 2011
 
Homeowners who live in coastal areas probably have noticed some of the ill effects of hurricanes in years past. High winds and rising waters can wreak havoc on a property and lead to high home insurance claims. Naturally, purchasing adequate home insurance is a must for anyone looking to buy a home in these areas, but experts told Bankrate.com it might also be worth investing in a few home retrofits to guard against hurricane damage. While some of the retrofitting projects can be costly, they can sometimes be offset by insurance discounts and many go a long way toward protecting the structural integrity of a home.
 
Here are a few items Bankrate.com suggests homeowners consider when it comes to hurricane preparation.
 
Plywood
 
It's sturdy, it's cheap and it's time-tested. Boarding up one's windows with plywood a few days before a storm can protect against wind damage, and it's protection that's easy enough for homeowners to do themselves. It also helps to measure and cut the plywood well ahead of time to avoid last-minute scrambling, said Bankrate.com.
 
Fabric panels
 
They serve a similar purpose to plywood but they aren't as unattractive and they can actually let it in a bit of light. Debris bounces off the flexible panel and they can generally be stored away conveniently until use, though Bankrate.com says it might be wise to consider professional installation.
 
Roll-down shutters
 
The most expensive window protection, these shutters roll down at the push of a button. While they're generally the most sure-fire way to protect one's windows, they could be cost prohibitive for some homeowners.
 
Hurricane windows
 
A homeowner could avoid buying additional protection altogether by simply installing hurricane-impact windows. The glass is designed to withstand heavy winds and contains a structure similar to a car windshield, meaning that when they break, they'll stay in place without totally shattering.
 
Roof straps
 
These belts literally strap a home's roof down to its foundation and can significantly cut down on the threat of losing the roof of a home in a high-wind storm. However, Bankrate.com says they can be complicated to install without professional help.
 
Flood protection
 
Bankrate.com says homeowners should consider their options when protecting against floods. Sandbags are cheap - some counties give them away for free - but it will take a lot of time to completely surround a home. Other products, such as DoorDams, can do the job effectively in a short amount of time, though they do cost more money.
 
Braces for the garage door
 
There are brace systems that are designed to give one's garage door extra support in the event of a major storm. Bankrate.com says the garage door collapsing can be a frequent cause of property damage in a hurricane.