Does it do any good to tape windows?
Tape does not protect a window from shattering. Commercial films that will hold shattered glass in place can be applied to the insides of windows.
Do hurricane shutters help?
Yes, but be sure you get the right shutters for you. Removable steel plates are heavy and awkward to handle and not appropriate for everyone. Roll-up shutters are easier to use but expensive. Some fabric coverings are tough, less expensive and easy to handle.
Is plywood a good alternative?
It isn't as strong as commercial storm shutters, but it helps if you are strong enough to handle it. Be careful: If you nail it into the frame of the window or the house, you create holes into which water can later leak and damage walls. Ask your home supply store how to mount plywood so the holes can be plugged after the storm passes.
Are old plywood sheets still usable?
If they are not warped. Lay flat with something heavy on top to prevent warping. Still, even warped plywood might be usable it the warping is not severe.
What are the most vulnerable points in a home?
The garage door and the front door. Garage doors are easily broken, bent and ripped from their tracks. They can be retrofitted for added strength. Front doors are seldom windproof, especially double doors. High winds can crack dead-bolt locks and get in through damaged garage doors. Once the wind finds a way into a house, the roof is in danger. If the roof goes, the house is lost. Consider replacing double front doors with single doors that can be reinforced from the inside. In the space remaining, install long, stationary, shatterproof windows.
How do you prepare the yard?
Trim dead or rotten limbs, which could become missiles in high winds. Decide where you will store sprinklers, hoses and yard ornaments out of the wind.
What about patio furniture?
If you have a pool, throw your furniture in it. Otherwise, turn tables top down and tie down chairs or take them inside.
What about a computer?
Dismantle it and move it to safety. If that's impossible, back up important data and put it in a safe place. If you evacuate, unplug the computer, phone and cable lines, and peripheral equipment. Move the equipment as high off the floor as possible.
Can I reuse sandbags from last year?
Yes, if they have been stored in a dry place and have not become moldy, water-logged or torn.
Should I stay with my house to protect it from looters?
Your belongings aren't as valuable as your life. Let the police do the policing. If there is a place for you to go and you can get out of a devastated neighborhood, you should do that. Presumably, you already have identified and made arrangements for your most valuable personal effects.
If my home is damaged, who should I get to fix it?
The most needed specialty after a storm is a roofing company. Don't be in a hurry to hire one. There will be all sorts of impostors looking to cash in. Get recommendations from insurers and others who have had satisfactory experiences. Ask for references.
How do I prove to my insurance company what I owned?
Buy a digital camera now and take pictures of everything in the house and store the camera or the picture card with the valuable items that you plan to take with you when you evacuate. Or videotape your valuables. Then you can show the insurance company what you lost. If you have sales receipts for big-ticket items, they will help place a fair value on lost property.
What does homeowners insurance cover?
It generally covers damage to the building and contents and provides living expenses until the dwelling is livable again. In the case of a condo, the exterior of the building and the roof generally are covered by a homeowners association master policy. Individual owners have unit policies that cover floors, ceilings, interior walls and contents.
What does renters insurance cover?
It covers contents and living expenses if your apartment or house is no longer livable. Your lease might not require your landlord to find alternative housing for you.
What do I do if my car is damaged?
That is generally covered by auto insurance. If the inside has flooded, don't try to start it. Cover broken windows. List all lost valuables.