NC State Extension Publications

Plan Ahead to Prevent Wind and Water Damage

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It is essential to plan ahead for potential areas where wind or water may cause damage. Look around your house and yard. Is there anything that might become airborne in strong winds (container plants, hanging baskets, tools, lawn furniture, toys, bicycles, bird feeders, playhouses and doghouses, etc.)? Are there particular areas of your home that are prone to flooding? Are your gutters and downspouts clogged? Is your weatherstripping intact and are your windows and doors well sealed?

  • Make a list of things that need to be brought inside and where to put them.
  • Make a list of things that need to be tied down (boat on a trailer).
  • Make a list of things that need to be cleaned (gutters, downspouts)
  • Make a list of things that might need repair or maintenance (weatherstripping, caulking, etc.)
  • Buy the necessary equipment (anchoring devices, rope, etc.).
  • Estimate how long it will take to secure things.

These two lists are now part of your family’s emergency preparation. If you live on a barrier island or on the coast, plan to cover your windows with 58-inch exterior-grade plywood, screwed to the reinforced part of the window frame.

  • Measure and cut the pieces.
  • Mark which covers go over which window or gable vent.
  • Pre-drill screw holes every 18 inches.
  • If you have a gable vent, you may want to cover this space with plywood. Wind, water and sand can enter through the space and cause considerable damage.

If you have storm shutters for doors and windows, make certain they are in good repair. You may consider doing a trial run before the hurricane. If you do not have storm shutters, make the plywood covers now and store them. If you wait until you’re under a storm watch, you may run out of time and the building supply store may run out of materials.

Masking tape may reduce shattering of broken glass, but won’t keep glass from breaking.

Which Items in Your Home Could You Raise on Blocks or Move to a Higher Floor or Attic?

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  • Get the blocks (concrete, not wood) and store them.
  • Learn how to disconnect your appliances.
  • List the things you want to save in the order of their importance to you.
  • Move cleaners, insecticides, and fuels to high shelves. Don’t store chemicals under the kitchen or bathroom sink or on the garage floor.

What Important Papers and Documents, Photo Albums, and Other Irreplaceable Items Are Stored in Low Cabinets or on the Floor?

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Move your important papers now or add their location to the disaster plan list so you’ll remember to move them when the time comes.

Really important documents should be kept in a safety deposit box.

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Mortgage papers
  • Insurance policies

Other important papers can be kept at home in waterproof packets. Remember to include them in your disaster plan. A waterproof and fireproof storage container is even better. In a catastrophic disaster, the official depository may be damaged or closed. Keep your household inventory list (for insurance), along with photos and video documentation, with these other important papers.

If a Hurricane May Be a Threat

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  • Cloth face coverings for every member of your family (age 2 and older) *
  • Bedding, personal care, and meals for shelter *
  • Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap
  • Change emergency drinking water supplies if older than 6 months. Store 1 gallon per person per day. Prepare a 3-day supply of water.
  • Update phone numbers, addresses, meeting locations, etc., in your family disaster plan.
  • Fill the car’s gas tank.
  • Keep a tire repair kit, small shovel, and maps in the car.
  • If you have a home garden, harvest all the vegetables that are ripe or close to being ready. (The crop may be destroyed by wind. Vegetables exposed to floodwaters must be discarded.)
  • Start bringing unsecured items indoors or tie them down. (Use your list.)
  • If you think your house may flood, locate concrete blocks for raising furniture and appliances. Water may wick up the blocks, so put plastic between the blocks and articles placed on top.
  • Update the first aid kit.
  • Buy batteries for portable radio and flashlights.
  • Locate flashlights or battery-powered lanterns.
  • Fill necessary prescriptions.
  • Check sanitary supplies (toilet paper, towelettes, soap, liquid detergent, personal hygiene items, and plastic garbage bags with ties).
  • Get cash from your bank account.
  • Check your food supply. Make sure you have some packaged foods that can be prepared without cooking.
  • Know where your important papers are. Pack them in waterproof containers or take them with you if you evacuate.
  • Move all valuables to higher levels in your home.
  • Move boats and trailers close to the house. Fill the boat with water to weigh it down and anchor it to the ground.
  • Check materials on hand for emergency repairs (tarp, extra plywood, etc.).
  • Buy several inexpensive cameras to take pictures of damage.

* new recommendations during time of pandemic

If a Hurricane Is a Threat

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  • Keep the radio and television tuned for the latest information, or follow storm forecasts online.
  • Fill refrigerator and freezer with containers of water or ice. Use clean plastic jugs. (If you plan to use the water for drinking, do not use milk containers.)
  • Fill your bathtub(s) with water for cleaning and flushing.
  • If you live on a barrier island or in a coastal area, install your window panels and gable vent covers securely. A poorly installed cover can cause more damage than no cover at all.
  • Close and lock windows and doors so wind vibrations will not open them.
  • Pull curtains and draperies over unprotected glass areas to prevent injury from flying glass. Tape won’t keep the glass from breaking, but it may help restrain broken glass.
  • Brace the garage doors.

If You Decide to Evacuate

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  • Leave early in daylight if possible.
  • Turn off the water supply main valve.
  • Leave the refrigerator and freezer on.
  • Tell a neighbor and someone out of town (or away from the disaster) when you’re leaving, how you’re traveling, where you’re going, and who is with you.
  • If you can’t evacuate your pets, put them on the highest level of your home. Do not crate or chain animals, as that will leave them no means of escape. Take your evacuation supplies.
  • Drinking water (1gallon/person/day).
  • Nonperishable foods requiring little or no cooking and no refrigeration.
  • Special foods for family members (baby, elderly, those on special diets).
  • Hand-crank can opener.
  • Prescription medicines and medical devices (pacemaker, hearing aid, etc.).
  • Clean clothing and underwear.
  • Towels, toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, deodorant, etc.).
  • Extra set of car keys.
  • Credit cards and cash.
  • Special items for infants, elderly or family members with disabilities (diapers, wipes, walker, cane, etc.).
  • Identification (which may be needed to return to your property).
  • Flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs.
  • Portable radio.
  • First aid kit.
  • Paper plates, cups, utensils, etc.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Sleeping bags and blankets.

Return home only after authorities indicate it is safe.

If You Stay at Home During a Hurricane

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  • Stay indoors in an inside room, away from doors and windows.
  • Stay away from telephones, electrical outlets and water pipes as they can conduct lighting.
  • Do not go out into the brief calm as the eye passes over.
  • If power goes off, turn off major appliances to avoid a surge when power is restored.
  • Turn off electricity if flooding begins.

If Your House Is Damaged, What Supplies Will You Need for Emergency Repairs?

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  • Duct tape for securing broken windows.
  • Masking tape.
  • Extra shutter fasteners and bolts.
  • Drill and screwdriver bits and adaptor for bolts for installing shutters. (In case of power outage, make sure all tool batteries are fully charged before the storm)
  • 12 inch CDX exterior plywood and hardware (14 inch machine screw anchors or lead shields, large deep lag bolts, roofing nails and tin tabs) for securing windows and patching holes in the roof.
  • Roofing tar and tarpaper (or self-adhesive roofing paper).
  • Plastic covering (or tarpaulin, visqueen, canvas) for large holes in the roof, broken windows, making tents and to cover furniture.
  • Hammer and nails.
  • Screwdrivers.
  • Razor knife.
  • Axe or hatchet and handsaw.
  • Crowbar.
  • Work gloves.

For More Information

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For more information on disaster preparedness and recovery visit the NC Disaster Information Center.

Adapted by: Dr Wilma Hammett, Extension Home Environment Specialist, and Dr. Sarah Kirby, Extension Housing Specialist, from: A South Louisiana Guide to Living with Hurricanes, Cooperative Extension Service, Louisiana State University, and Hurricane Supply List, Martin County Florida.


State Program Leader for Family & Consumer Sciences & Professor
Agricultural & Human Sciences
Executive Director FCS Foundation and ECA Foundation
Office of College Advancement

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: May 22, 2014
Revised: Dec. 12, 2023

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