The 2015 hurricane season has been relatively quiet, according to Texas A&M Today. In fact, for the past 10 years, there haven't been any major hurricanes to hit the U.S. coast. The last one was Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Bloomberg explained. Since then, category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes have missed U.S. shores.
However, just because the storms that have impacted the U.S. were somewhat less destructive doesn't mean they didn't cause damage. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy, not big enough to qualify as a hurricane, hit New Jersey and caused tragedy and destruction. The lives of at least 117 U.S. citizens were lost, plus 69 more in Canada and the Carribbean, according to Ocean Today. An estimated $50 billion of damage were caused.
This year, Hurricane Joaquin, which reached category 4 and nearly category 5, caused extreme flooding in South Carolina and hit the Bahamas, though never made contact with the U.S.
With one month left in the 2015 hurricane season, many homeowners may begin breathing sighs of relief. However, Bloomberg warned that, until the season is officially over on Nov. 30, people should still be prepared. Superstorm Sandy's destructive winds hit the U.S. on Oct. 29, and Joaquin didn't dissipate until Oct. 7. Plus, the Atlantic Ocean typically sees about six hurricanes form by Nov. 23. So far this year, only three have developed.
Homeowners in coastal regions should continue to be prepared for storms that can hit or affect regions until hurricane season is officially over. Here are some things that should be done to protect a home and its inhabitants when high winds and heavy rains are unavoidable.
Make sure everything is secure. If the roof hasn't been strapped or clipped to the home's frame already, it's important to get this done soon, according to Money Talks News. When a roof dislodges from a home, the home is prone to further destruction.
"Doors and windows should be given special attention."
Doors and windows should also be given special attention. Bolts will help doors hold their ground, and caulking will keep rain from getting in. Shutters or other protective coverings will reduce damage and broken glass on doors and windows.
U.S. & World News Report advised homeowners to inspect nearby trees. These can cause extensive damage to homes and cars if they aren't taken care of. Healthy trees whose branches are kept in check will cause the least damage. However, a tree that is unhealthy could lose a limb during high winds. A tree whose roots favor one side to the other could be unstable and may fall over. Finally, branches that brush a home's roof or windows are sure to lash against the home during a storm.
If a homeowner isn't sure whether a tree poses a threat, an arborist can be consulted. These tree experts will be able to assess the potential damage of the tree and remove it if necessary.
Plans and preparation
If a hurricane or storm does occur, it's crucial to have a plan in place. If leaving the home is the best way to keep the family safe, the whole family - kids included - need to know the plan. U.S. News & World Report explained that leaving could be the safest course of action in certain homes that can't withstand hurricane-strength winds, such as mobile homes.
Money Talks News said it is also a good idea to be prepared for when it's time to file a home insurance claim. Make a list of major home possessions, including photos as proof of ownership. This will help the claim process go by faster and more smoothly.
Get ready for next year
Once this year's hurricane season is over, it's never too soon to begin preparing for next year's. Though the past 10 years have seen little destruction, this trend may come to an end. According to Texas A&M Today, luck has been playing a big role in keeping the U.S. out of harm's way for the most part. The last time the country has seen such a long stretch between major hurricanes was more than 150 years ago.
Homeowners should be prepared for next year by ensuring they have the best insurance to protect their home. Homeowners insurance typically does not include flood insurance, though flood insurance is available separately, according to Money Talks News.
Homes in flood zones are required to have flood insurance, but if your home is in a hurricane-prone region, the extra protection could be a good idea. Nolo.com explained that regulations may not represent current weather patterns. This means an area may be at risk of flooding, but not technically considered as a high-risk zone. Homeowners should do their own research to determine if flood insurance is right for them.
"Homeowners should research to determine if flood insurance is needed."
Money Talks News explained that some homeowners policies don't include wind coverage. Homeowners should double check to make sure wind damage is covered. If not, it is possible to add extra coverage.
Those looking to move to Florida or another hurricane-prone area should keep an eye out for homes built to withstand hurricane conditions, Realtor.com advised. For instance, domed roofs fare better in windy weather. A home with some built-in advantages are also less expensive to insure. Homebuyers should find out if the home was built to code before making their final decision; poorly built homes will likely withstand greater damage, as well as be more expensive to insure.
Make sure your homeowners policy is the right one for you, your home and your area. Talk to your insurance provider for more information about what is included and what isn't. Visit CoverHound's website to compare rates on homeowners insurance and find the best plan for you.