Keeping a Healthy Brain and a Healthy Home this Hurricane Season
June 1st marks the beginning of Hurricane Season for the United States. While the headaches that come with storm damage to your home are enough to deal with for their own sake, this kind of damage can also greatly impact the health and safety of you and your family members, especially those who suffer from environmental illnesses like Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). There are many ways you can prepare your home before a storm in hopes of mitigating possible damage, though none are guaranteed to work under all conditions.
Below, we’ll go through some of the best ways to protect your home with options that can work regardless of your budget. This is by no means a comprehensive list, as every property is different, but many of these items can apply to most, if not all, properties.
Before working on your home itself, it’s important to ensure you have the proper insurance in place in case disaster strikes. This includes homeowner’s and renter’s insurance because even if you’re renting and are not responsible for the building, water damage and storms can destroy your belongings and end up costing you a great deal of money in the long run. Many policies don’t automatically cover things like flooding, wind, or fire damage, so make sure you’re aware of what your coverage includes and contact your insurance agent to review your policy if you have questions!
The best and easiest place to start your efforts to protect your home is with your windows and doors. As some of the weakest and most vulnerable sections of a building, it’s extremely important to make sure you check and prepare each carefully to ensure that they are in good condition and protected from the elements during a storm.
- Inspect the seal/caulking around your windows and doors. It’s important to check from both the inside and outside (if it is possible to check from the outside). This is a step that will cost you nothing but your time unless you find areas that need attention. If you do find areas that need attention you may be able to correct them yourself, but we recommend contacting a reputable professional to ensure that it’s done completely and properly. Failure to identify or fix such a seemingly small problem could create a disaster in your home if wind and/or water get through during a storm.
- Make sure all of your windows and doors are closed and locked before the storm begins. It may seem like an obvious detail, but it’s important to always be sure.
- If you don’t have them and it’s in your budget, consider investing in impact-resistant windows and doors or storm shutters. Not only will installing them help increase your property value and lower your homeowner’s insurance premium, but they will help protect your windows and doors from breakage related to flying objects, reducing the chance that wind and rain will have an entrance point to your home.
- If you don’t have impact-resistant windows and doors or storm shutters and can’t afford to add them, make sure you have enough plywood on hand to cover your windows and doors to prevent breakage and wind and water intrusion. Home improvement stores and lumber yards often run low on these supplies before a storm hits, so plan ahead to have everything you need when the time comes.
- Have some tarps on hand in case the windows or doors fail. Although a tarp may not keep everything from coming in, you may be able to decrease the amount that enters.
Due to the vulnerability of most garage doors, the garage is often susceptible to water intrusion. Storm resistant options are available for garage doors, but they’re not always an option for homeowners or renters. To help protect your garage from water intrusion, ensure you follow the above instructions for any windows or regular doors that are a part of your garage, if any, just as you would for any other window in the home. Additionally, if you don’t have a storm impact-rated garage door, you can add additional protection in the form of braces and water barriers.
Much like your windows and doors, your roof is a vulnerable area of your home. Improper maintenance and seemingly small issues can lead to big problems when water and high winds are involved. While roofing is never inexpensive, there are options available to homeowners of any budget to ensure you are as safe as possible during storms.
- Impact-resistant roofing with specialized shingles is a good option for those who can afford it. Though the cost may run from about 10-20% more for installation of impact-resistant roofing than for a regular roof, in the long run, it may save you far and above the extra expense by protecting your home from storm damage. It can also help lower your homeowner’s insurance premium and increase the value of your home overall.
- Regardless of the type of roof you have, always check to ensure your roof is in good condition. It may not be practical for you to check that yourself due to a variety of reasons, but again, the expense of hiring a reputable company to come and check for issues now can save you money in the long run.
Things to look for include, but are not limited to
The condition of your shingles:
- Are they peeling, cracked, curling, or showing bald spots?
- Are any shingles missing?
- The condition of your seals
- Are they dry or cracked?
- The condition of the wood around the roof
- Is the wood split, rotting, or warped?
- Are your gables in good condition?
- Is your roof fitted with roof straps to strengthen the connection between your roof and walls? This may be something that you need to hire someone to come and check for, but again, the small cost of inspection may save you money in the long run.
Although basements are few and far between in South Florida, they are available elsewhere in the country and can be another weak spot of your home. If you have a basement, consider investing in a sump pump if you don’t already have one. This can help limit water damage in your basement, just make sure that the pump is free of debris and working properly before a storm. Additionally, whether you have a basement or not, check your foundation for any cracks, holes, or other issues and consider adding waterproofing to your basement or crawlspace. Remember, the smallest seeming issues can create big damage if left uncorrected!
Finally, make sure your yard, deck, and/or patio are as free of potential missiles as possible. High winds can cause a lot of damage, especially if objects are left outside that aren’t bolted down. If you think there is even a small chance that a strong wind can move it, it probably can, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Bring any lawn furniture and decor inside that is not securely tethered/bolted down.
- Trim and trees or bushes that are near the home, and remove anything that is dead or dying.
- If you have gutters, make sure to clean them out before a storm. Clogged gutters can result in overflow, which can cause damage to your roof and siding. It can also cause pooling in areas that are not equipped to deal with it and create issues with your foundation.
In addition to checking the above, there are several items that are beneficial to have on hand during a hurricane to help mitigate damage and water intrusion. Consider stocking up on these items in the off-season, or as early in hurricane season as possible so you’re not left scrambling to find them at the last minute. Most, if not all, are reusable and able to be stored from season to season.
- We’ve all heard of using bags of sand to create a barrier against water, but now there are other options. Water-activated flood barriers work to divert water in the same way sandbags do, but they are easy to store, lighter weight, and often reusable! They work by initially absorbing any water that comes in to inflate them to their full size, then work as a barrier for any additional water coming in after they are full. Many can be stacked on top of each other to create higher barriers when needed.
- Leak detector / alarms
- These can be placed on the floor or any other surface and will alert you to the presence of water and can be used multiple times.
- Some are even Bluetooth capable and can connect to your phone or Alexa system.
- Fans or dryers in the case of flooding
- Moisture meter
- This can be helpful in determining if you have water intrusion between walls, under your sink, etc. It is important, however, to understand building materials like concrete and metal can cause a falsely high moisture reading, so you will need to read the documents that come with the model you purchase for those details.
- These can be useful year-round, making them a great overall investment. Place them under sinks, around your appliances, or anywhere else you may worry about impending water intrusion.
- A generator
- A generator isn’t an option for everyone, but having one can be of big benefit in the event that you lose power due to a storm. Not only can it help keep important items powered like your refrigerator and freezer to keep your food safe, but it can also help to maintain humidity levels in the home in an effort to prevent mold growth.
- Damprid or an electrical dehumidifier
- These will help keep the humidity levels down in your home in the event of water intrusion.
With diligence and care, you can help keep your home as protected as possible from storm damage. It’s important to remember mold can grow in as little as 24 hours in the right conditions, and that bleach alone cannot kill mold growth, so preventing and identifying water intrusion as soon as possible is critical to maintaining a healthy brain and a healthy home.
If you have any questions regarding water intrusion or mold in your home, or suspect that your home has sustained water damage and already has mold growth, Rezilir is here for you.
For more information on scheduling a consultation or to perform an assessment at your home, office or other space you suspect water damage, Rezilir Health has two certified IEP professionals on staff that can help at any time.