Louisiana declared a state of emergency on July 10 as a storm approached, and it's one of the many states that have to be on their guard during hurricane season. If you're based in Louisiana and taking steps to prepare for the storm, knowing how to protect your home from a hurricane will be key to staying safe over the next several months.
AccuWeather reported that the storm is expected to make landfall in Louisiana as a hurricane on Friday night or Saturday, so it's crucial to make your home preparations as soon as possible. That being said, it's of course most important to prioritize the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
Dennis Hwang, a coastal hazard mitigation specialist at the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant College Program, emphasizes this in an email to Bustle. "The key at this late stage is to carefully listen to state and local parish officials [in Louisiana], continuously monitoring TV and radio. People should be preparing to evacuate and do so at the word of local emergency managers. They should listen to trusted sources ... "
As you continue to follow local officials' guidance for own safety, you can also take several steps prior to the storm to help protect your home.
Secure Loose Outdoor Items
As the National Association of Home Builders explained, it's essential to think ahead about any damage that could be caused by strong winds or heavy rain and water flow during a hurricane. To mitigate such damage, it suggests storing loose items like lawn furniture, loose branches, grills, and potted plants indoors to ensure that they aren't blown around. NAHB also recommends securing any large outdoor items, like swing sets and pet habitats, that you are unable to bring inside. If loose objects remain outdoors or unsecured during the storm, they could become "flying wind borne debris" that could cause property damage and pose a danger to humans, Hwang tells Bustle.
Enforce Your Windows
Additionally, it's crucial to protect your home's windows in the event of a hurricane. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) website says that the best way to do this is to use "tested and code approved, certified impact resistant devices," like hurricane shutters and specially designed windows that resist impact. Hwang agrees, telling Bustle that you should plan to deploy your shutter system if you already have one in place. However, if you don't have time to install these items or they aren't available, FLASH has a helpful online guide to walk you through the process of using plywood to board up your windows.
Prepare For Power Outages & Flooding
According to Family Handyman magazine, it's important to prepare for potential power outages and flooding stemming from the hurricane. If your home has a generator, make sure it has fuel ahead of the storm, the outlet notes. Moreover, if there's time, you should also consider unplugging your electrical appliances to prevent damage from power surges and elevating your furniture off of the ground to protect it from potential flood damage, the magazine indicates.
Take Insurance-Related Precautions
Lastly, as the Red Cross describes on its website, you should consider your home's insurance coverage ahead of a hurricane. The organization notes that most homeowners insurance doesn't cover flood damage. However, you can get more information about how to obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program's website.
Even if there isn't time to buy flood insurance, you can still take inventory of your household items ahead of time so you can make insurance claims afterward if necessary. The Tampa Bay Times notes that you can do this by taking a video or photos of the items in your house, as well as of receipts for high value items. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) also has a helpful online guide if you haven't created a household inventory before. And in a press release, it recommends writing down the name and number of "your insurer and insurance professional and keep[ing] this information" in your wallet.
As hurricane season kicks off, people in states like Louisiana can't be too careful, and it's always better to be over-prepared when it comes down to it. If you're also interested in putting together a disaster emergency kit, this list of essentials might come in handy.