Hurricane help guide

Here’s what to do before, during and after a storm

Hurricane season occurs from June 1st through November 30th, and it is always a good time to start preparing. The best way to protect your home is through regular maintenance and by taking proactive steps well in advance of hurricane season. If a storm is already approaching, it may be too late for many protective actions. Even so, there are important preventative steps you can take at every stage: before the season begins, when a hurricane is approaching, and after a storm passes. This guide is here to help with answers to frequently asked questions from our expert risk management team to help you weather the storm.


Q: How can I protect my home from hurricane damage?


A: The best form of defense is to install impact rated materials, shutters or, at a minimum, pre-cut, pre-drilled plywood over all openings. The hardware for shutters and plywood should be checked annually for rusting and replaced as needed. Pre-cut plywood should be organized and labeled (often numbered) so all pieces are adhered to their proper openings.


Q: What can be done prior to the start of hurricane season?


A: Seasonal maintenance is important. Trim weak or diseased tree branches as well as any that overhang your home and property. Make sure all gutters and drains are cleared of debris and functioning properly. Inspect the seals around windows and door and repair as needed. Test sump pumps and back up generators to ensure they are operating properly. Inspect your roof for signs of wear and damage. If your home has shutters, test and inspect them and make sure all hardware is functional. Permanent fastenings for shutters should be installed on your home well in advance of a storm. This way, when a storm is approaching, all protective shutters can be installed in a timely manner. Store all shutters and necessary hardware together in a designated storage area.


Q: What are the options for protecting the openings of my home?


A: There are numerous options for protecting your windows and doors and it is important to figure out which will work best for your home and family.

  • Whenever possible, Miami-Dade County approved impact rated glass is the best option. This option is the most costly, but your protection will always be in place.
  • Accordion and roll down shutters are another good option as they are already affixed to your home and just need to be deployed before a storm.
  • Metal or polycarbonate plastic hurricane panels and pre-cut, pre-drilled plywood can be an effective option. These are more labor intensive and often require a lot of time and more than one person to install.
  • An effective option for retro-fitting a home and unique openings are fabric coverings. These fabrics are usually made of a strong polyester weave with a PVC coating on both sides. These may be stored in place or in a designated storage area.


Q: What about my garage doors?


A: Garage doors are often one of the largest openings which could leave your home vulnerable if they are not protected. Garage doors may be fitted with the same shutter and protective device options as your windows and other doors. Impact rated garage doors may also be purchased. These doors must be fitted with a steel track system and twist-resistant frame work.


Q: How do I know if my shutters are strong enough?


A: Many products are advertised as hurricane protection or hurricane tested without meeting all requirements to protect your home. Look for these ratings or labels when making the choice for your home:

  • ASTM E1886 and E1996
  • AAMA 506
  • Florida Building Code TAS 201, 202, 203
  • Miami-Dade County Product Control
  • Approved and NOA number per TAS 201, 202, 203


Q: A storm is approaching. What are my last minute preparations?


A: Here are some important things to do to help protect your home:

  • Prepare your property. Bring outdoor items inside as they risk becoming missiles in heavy winds.
  • Secure larger, heavier furniture and items together or into the ground if possible.
  • Move valuable items, electronics and appliances off the floor and to upper levels if possible.
  • Secure important documents in waterproof storage.
  • Be sure to leave enough time to deploy shutters if applicable.
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Move vehicles you plan to leave behind to higher ground or into a garage.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Have a plan with your family, an emergency kit and make sure you have enough fuel in your car.
  • If you are instructed to evacuate, turn off utilities and leave immediately.


Q: Why should I close my interior doors when a storm is approaching?


A: If an exterior opening of your home is blown open or a window is broken, high winds will then enter your home. This will place your home under forceful pressure which puts an upward force on your roof. By closing your interior doors, you have compartmentalized the pressure into reduced areas. This in turn will put less stress on the roof structure.


Q:  The storm has passed. What do I do now?


A: There are several important steps to take. If you have evacuated, wait until authorities have deemed it safe to return. Do not walk or drive through flooded areas. Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the authorities. Always use caution when entering a building that has been damaged. If it appears your home has suffered structural damage, contact officials before entering. If possible, protect your home from further damage by boarding up windows or taping roofs. If it is not safe to do so, seek professional help or reach out to your insurance provider for help. At Berkley One, a Berkley Company, we can put you in contact with licensed and vetted contractors and remediation experts through what we call our PlusOneSM Service Network. Finally, photograph or take video of any damages sustained.


At Berkley One, our risk management and claims experts are here to help, today and every day. We offer proactive advice and risk consulting, as well as access to our PlusOneSM Service Network, a team of fully vetted and insured contractors and service providers who can help you with proactive installations or repairs. To learn more, contact us here.