Board Up and Clean Up: Essential Hurricane Tips for Coastal Residents

Even the smallest hurricane can dump 6-12 inches of rain across a region. (FeelTheOceanBreeze)

The North American hurricane season runs from early June to late November. During this six-month period, approximately 12 tropical storms form over the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. On average, six of these storms have the potential to turn into dangerous, land-falling hurricanes.

Below are must-have tips on preparing for a hurricane and doing clean-up afterward.

How to Board Up Your Home

1. Count and Measure

Count the number of windows and doors that contain glass. Also count skylights, roof vents or any opening to your home that may be vulnerable to damage.

Measure each door and window vertically and horizontally. Add eight inches to the side measurements to provide a 4-inch overlap.

Purchase sheets of plywood from your local home improvement store. The best plywood is exterior grade, 5/8″ thick or thicker. Plywood sheets are usually sold in 4 by 8 foot lengths. Refer to your window and door measurements to figure out how many sheets you’ll need.

2. Assemble Tools and Hardware

Tools you’ll need:

  • Circular saw
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles

Hardware you’ll need:

  • Masonry or wood anchors
  • Large washers, nuts
  • Bolts, in a range of sizes

The types of bolts you use depends on your home’s construction. Is your home masonry or wood frame?

  • Wood frame homes – Use plastic-coated anchors and lag screws
  • Masonry homes – Use galvanized expansion anchors and expansion bolts

3. Get Started:

Ask a friend for assistance as this project will require some moderately heavy lifting, holding and anchoring of plywood.

  • Measure in 2 inches from the plywood edge. Drill holes the same width as the screws or bolts, spaced 12 inches apart around the panel’s perimeter
  • Hold the plywood over the opening to mark where to drill the mounting holes. If your window sill is flush to the wall, attach the sheet on all four sides. If the window sill protrudes, attach the sheet to the left and right side and at the top.
  • If your door or window is wider than a standard sheet of plywood, use 2×4 bracing to fasten two plywood sheets together along the seam.
  • When you’ve covered all windows and doors take a permanent marker and write the panel’s location on the plywood. Next time a storm approaches you’ll know which panel goes where.
  • Store the panels and hardware in a covered shed or garage to protect them from the elements.
  • Bonus tip: Coat the panels with a sealant to waterproof them and extend their life.

Flood Damage
With large amounts of rain, your home may be prone to flooding. (MargoeEdwards/Getty Images)

Prevent Flood Damage to Appliances

Along with hurricanes and tropical storms, flooding can occur as well. Elevate indoor and outdoor appliances to prevent flood damage:

Elevate your furnace or water heater on concrete blocks. You can also move appliances to a higher floor.
Outside equipment such as AC compressors and heat pumps can be raised on a base of pressure-treated lumber, concrete or masonry.

Check your home insurance policy; some may offer hurricane recovery but not all will. (Mohamad Fazil Bin Ramli/Getty Images)

What to Do After a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

1. Take Photos

Before making repairs, take digital photos of any damage to give to your insurance company. Also learn more on how to check your home for hidden storm damage.

2. Call Your Homeowners Insurance Company

Notify your insurer as soon as possible. If flooding has affected a wide area, you may not be able to get a hold of your local agent immediately. If this occurs call the company’s headquarters instead. Advise the insurer of the current state of your home. Follow the insurer’s instructions about whether or not to wait for an adjuster’s inspection before beginning cleanup and repairs.

3. Are You in a Disaster Area? Find out.

Contact FEMA or your insurance company to find out if your region has been declared a “disaster area” by the government. If so, you may have access to additional resources including financial assistance and temporary housing.

Flood Mold
Mold and mildew may develop in and around the home and can often go undetectable, so be sure to check every corner. (rkankaro/Getty Images Signature)

Cleaning Tips

Often it’s necessary to hire a professional cleaning team to clean up water damage, mold and mildew. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, here are a few DIY tips:

  • First, make sure your home is safe to enter by checking for any visible structural damage.
  • If you suspect damage to gas, water, electric or sewer lines, contact your local utility companies.
  • Find a flashlight.
  • Wear protective gear such as rubber boots, protective gloves and a safety mask.
  • Turn off main power at the fuse box and all fuse connections.
  • Once all standing water is gone, remove all damp household items. Thoroughly wash and disinfect all surfaces including floors, walls, doors, shelving and closets.

Wet & Forget products are perfect for the flood up clean homeowners can to do themselves and doesn’t require a profession. For indoor clean-up, Wet & Forget Indoor Mold+Mildew Disinfectant Cleaner is an easy to use product. The spray and wipe formula cleans, deodorizes and disinfects in one step. Just spray it on, wait 10 minutes and then wipe the surface clean with a cloth.

For outdoor flood cleaning, Wet & Forget Outdoor Stain Remover is a gentle, bleach-free cleaner that safely removes mold and mildew from your home’s outdoor surfaces. Wet & Forget Outdoor is easy to use – just spray it on, and leave it. No scrubbing, rinsing or pressure washing is necessary. Wet & Forget will work to gently clean your surfaces for you.

Wet & Forget products can be found at most major home improvement retailers. Visit the store locator for locations near you.

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