10 Things You'll Forget To Protect From A Hurricane

In the flurry of emergency hurricane preparations, don't forget to protect these ten often overlooked items.

Hurricanes pose a seasonal threat across much of the southeastern United States, where homeowners are well versed in precautions such as boarding up windows, stockpiling supplies, and preparing emergency kits. When the winds pick up, however, panic may set in and small details are frequently overlooked. Many household items are neglected during hurricane preparations, but protecting these items before the storm arrives often lessens anxiety and frustration during the aftermath.

1. Pet house: No one would fail to protect their home, but a four-legged friend's home may escape notice during emergency preparation. Pet houses such as dog houses, kennels, and barns are susceptible to wind and flood damage and should be boarded up like a larger structure. If possible, smaller pet houses can be moved indoors, providing pets a familiar and comfortable space during the storm.

2. Bird accessories: Birdhouses, birdfeeders, and birdbaths also need protection during high winds. These items are very light and may be severely damaged or destroyed, and should be moved indoors until the hurricane has passed or they may become dangerous projectiles. If a birdhouse is occupied, however, it should be left untouched: the birds will leave if necessary, and handling the house discourages them from returning.

3. Hoses and outdoor tools: Many homeowners overlook common gardening tools when securing items before a hurricane. A hose, for example, is often stored on the side of the home, a perfectly safe location under normal circumstances. High winds could easily dislodge it, however, and all tools should be properly secured in a shed or garage before a storm.

4. Outdoor furniture and toys: If possible, bring patio and other outdoor furniture indoors before the storm. If there is not enough storage space, rope the items together and tie them securely to a tree or other firm structure to prevent them from flying about or disappearing altogether. Swings should be taken down to prevent severe tangling in high winds.

5. Flagpoles and other decorative accents: Antennas, weathervanes, and flagpoles are often fastened to a house with only minimal security. To insure they do not become flying hazards, store them indoors until the storm passes. If they cannot be removed, consider additional bolts to guarantee their stability.

6. Hanging items: Decorative plants, wind chimes, and wind socks are such familiar sights that they are easily overlooked during hurricane preparations. Severe winds and debris can easily destroy them, however, and they should be removed long before the storm arrives. When storing decorative plants, place them near a skylight or unobstructed window to provide adequate light.

7. Mailbox: Many homes have concrete or brick mailboxes, which are not likely to sustain hurricane damage. Decorative accents such as a specialty cover, attached flag, or personalized door should be removed for safekeeping during the storm. Make sure the box is securely closed and the flag is down before the storm arrives to minimize any damage.

8. Chimney cover and outdoor vents: Especially in southern climates, many homes have attic vents for efficient cooling. If possible, these should be tightly closed before a hurricane to prevent water from leaking into the home. Chimney covers should be sealed as well, or removed entirely to avoid being torn off by circulating winds.

9. Car: Many people spend hours protecting their home from hurricanes' ravages, but very little time protecting their car. Prior to the storm, check the tires' inflation and fill all fluids, including gasoline. The car should be parked under cover if possible, or moved away from trees and other potential hazards. A tightly secured cover helps prevent scratches from flying debris. Tape applied to the windows can help keep them in place if they are broken during the storm, but do not affix tape to the windshield or rear window where it may obstruct views. For further protection, remove all personal paperwork from the vehicle, including the registration and insurance information, and take note of the car's vehicle identification number and license plate in case it is damaged or lost.

10. Emotions: Families spend hours physically preparing for hurricanes by boarding up windows, assembling emergency kits, and stockpiling supplies. It is equally important, however, to protect emotions during a storm. Hurricanes are frightening experiences, with extended power interruptions, flooding, debris, high winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightening. Children are especially prone to anxiety and fear during severe storms, but a supply of comfort foods such as cookies, chips, and other snacks helps ease tensions. Board games, portable music players, flashlights, and familiar toys also help relieve anxiety. Reviewing photo albums, telling stories, or staging a hurricane camp-in (using sleeping bags in a secure room) are other techniques that protect a family's emotions during a hurricane.

By taking the time to protect often overlooked items such as a dog house, garden tools, or a flagpole, homeowners minimize a hurricane's damage. These powerful storms regularly wreak havoc with homes and lives, but precautionary measures help protect the little details of a home no matter how hard the wind blows.

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