It’s officially hurricane season, and according to the experts, it's going to be a doozy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an "above-normal" season, with anywhere from 13 to 19 named storms and up to six major hurricanes -- and that's just in the Atlantic alone.
Over on the other side of the country, the NOAA expects 11 to 18 named storms in the East Pacific and two to six in the Central Pacific.
For home and property owners, the flooding and storm surge that results from those events could be catastrophic. In fact, data firm CoreLogic estimates that a whopping 7.1 million homes are at risk this year, with properties in Miami, New York City, Tampa, and New Orleans facing the highest chances of damage.
Want to make sure your investment property isn't vulnerable if you're caught in the crosshairs? Here are six ways to hurricane-prep your home:
1. Install storm shutters on your windows
Storm shutters can protect your home's windows if a storm gets bad. If these are too pricey (or your property just has tons of windows), you can also think about getting some plywood cut to size and just storing it in your garage or shed. If a hurricane comes up on the forecast, nail the plywood to your window frames until the storm passes.
2. Trim your trees
Flying tree branches can cause serious damage during a storm. Assess your property’s trees for any weak or broken limbs and remove any you find. You should also trim back any branches that are hanging over your roof or near windows. These are the most likely to hurt the structure if a hurricane hits.
3. Seal up any holes
Check the exterior of your home for any holes or openings. That includes gaps around doors and windows, holes in the brick or siding, and even small spaces around vents, hoses, or electrical outlets. Use caulk to seal these up to keep out any water should it start flooding.
4. Inspect the roof
If you're not comfortable getting on the roof yourself, call in a professional roofer and have them give the home a once-over. You'll want to replace any shingles that are missing, loose, or broken before a storm hits. You should also close up any gaps around roof vents or other features you might find.
5. Clean out the gutters
Hop on a ladder and remove any leaves and debris that have built up in your property's gutters. If the home's gutters are clogged, water will gather and eventually back up onto your roof. This can cause serious damage and even flooding inside the home.
6. Remove heavy outdoor landscaping
Have large stones or landscaping bricks in the yard? Gather these up and stow them away until hurricane season has passed. The wind can whip them up and send them flying, damaging your home in the process.
One last tip
You should also evaluate your home insurance policies to make sure you're adequately covered. And if you don't have flood insurance and are in a high-risk area, get that coverage ASAP. There's a 30-day waiting period for flood policies to kick in, so you'll want to act fast. Not sure if you need flood insurance? This guide can help you decide.