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Hurricanes cause millions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses every year.  If you live in a hurricane-prone area, how do you protect yourself? This to do list for homeowners covers five important steps you should take before the storm hits.   The following homeowner’s to do list covers five steps to take before a storm hits to make sure your home is protected.

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1. Secure your windowsThe vast majority of all hurricane damage is caused by high wind speeds.  High winds pick up debris and send it flying at incredible speeds. All it takes is one good sized tree branch to hit your window in just the right spot, and now your home has been breached.  Shattered glass from window breaks also poses a real danger, particularly if you are inside the home during the storm.Hurricane shutters are one of the best investments you can make to protect your windows.  Look for shutters that have received Dade County Product Approval, which is the highest standard in the industry for hurricane protection products. For a less expensive option, consider making your own shutters with 5/8″ thick plywood.

2. Secure the garage doorThis is particularly important if you have a home with an attached garage.  The garage door is a weak point in most homes, and it can be easily blown in by hurricane speed winds.  When the garage door is blown in and the wind pressure fills your home, it only takes a short time for the windows and doors to blow in, too.  In the worst case, the roof follows suit.Some garage doors are advertised as hurricane-resistant, but they can be costly. Securing your garage door doesn’t have to be an expensive proposal!  Consider boarding your garage door over with plywood, or using 2×4’s to brace it from the inside.

3. Install hurricane strapsGalvanized metal hurricane straps are used to secure the roof trusses to wall studs.  If you’re building a new home, be sure the builder uses hurricane straps, as this is one of the best (and most cost effective) ways to make sure the roof doesn’t blow off your home during a hurricane.  Note: It is possible to install hurricane straps on an existing home, but you may need to hire a contractor to do the job.

4. Eliminate possible projectilesWhen you know a storm is coming, walk all around your home and yard, and consider objects that could potentially be picked up by the wind and turned into flying projectiles.  

5. Trim your treesKeeping your trees in good shape is an important step in making sure that limbs won’t come down on your house during a hurricane.  First, trim any large branches that hang over your house. These trees are a hazard and should be taken out by you, so that they’re not taken out by a storm.

With a little time and forethought, you can minimize, and hopefully prevent, the majority of hurricane damage to your home.

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