Preparing Your SWFL Home For Hurricane Season
Hurricane season is officially upon us here in Southwest Florida. It’s also that time of year when many of our seasonal residents shutter their homes and head back north. Whether you’re here year-round or battening down the hatches to escape the heat, here’s how to prepare your home for hurricane season.
Don’t stock up like the great toilet paper shortage of 2020… but stock up wisely. Bottled water, canned food, and other non-perishables should have a designated place in your pantry during hurricane season. Don’t forget pet food, too. If possible, try to have an extra couple weeks’ worth of prescription medications on hand as well. It’s also smart to have a little cash on hand. Often, stores will reopen after a storm on auxiliary power, but credit card processing may remain down for some time.
For a comprehensive list of items to stock up on and how to prepare a disaster kit, check out this resource from the Department of Homeland Security.
Review Your Insurance Policies
And know if you live in a flood zone. Traditional homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage due to a flood, and separate flood insurance is required if you live in a flood zone. Without flood insurance, you could face massive financial losses in a hurricane. Also, be aware that if you do live in a flood zone, mandatory evacuations are required when strong storms approach, as was the case with Hurricane Irma in 2017.
As part of reviewing your insurance policies, you should also take pictures of every room of your home and make an inventory list of your belongings, including collectibles other irreplaceable items for insurance adjusters.
Have An Evacuation Plan
Keep important documents in a portable, waterproof safe, and make a checklist of items to pack if evacuating becomes imminent. Also have a checklist of last-minute items to do around your home, such as unplugging appliances and getting as much furniture off the floor as possible.
Also, know the designated evacuation route to get out of your home and head north or east depending on the storm’s path. Often, roads will be closed, re-routed, or one-directional to improve traffic flow.
Shore Up Your Home
Whether you’re closing up your second home or living here year-round, an annual check-up of your home’s systems is smart. When preparing your home for hurricane season:
- Inspect and test hurricane shutters, exterior doors, and garage doors; repair or replace as needed
- Check to make sure there are no cracks or failing seals on impact windows and doors
- Clean out gutters and drains and get your roof inspected
- Inspect siding and repair or replace loose or missing pieces
- Schedule a tree inspection and trimming, and remove any dead trees
- Have a plan to quickly secure patio furniture and outdoor decor
- Install surge protectors inside the home
- Have your septic tank pumped and inspected (especially if you’re in a flood zone)
- Test your generator and fill gas cans
- Know where your water, gas, and electricity shutoffs are
- If a hurricane does threaten, turn your refrigerator and freezers to the coldest settings
For Seasonal Residents
If you’re shutting your home for the season, it’s a good idea to have a property management company (or at least a trusted friend or neighbor) regularly check on your home. Even when not in use, leaks can start and appliances can fail. Especially after a hurricane passes, it’s important for someone to go check on your home and assess any damage.
The Link Team Is Here For You
Nina Link and our team of real estate professionals know the Southwest Florida real estate market, including the most trusted and reliable contractors and service providers to use. If you need help preparing your home for hurricane season, check out our list of recommended vendors here.