Prepare Home & Prevent Loss

Prepare Your Home

Hurricanes, Floods and Tornadoes

Homeowner’s insurance usually does not cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance agent about purchasing flood insurance, and remember that it often takes 30 days to go into effect. Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program at

Fix-it yourself:

  • Fasten exterior items securely to your home to prevent them from becoming flying debris. Move loose items indoors.
  • Caulk/install weather stripping to all doors and windows to prevent wind from entering.
  • Install impact-resistant shutters OR have cut-to-fit boards and mountings ready for all windows and doors.
  • Make all entry doors impact-resistant by installing head and foot bolts with a minimum one-inch bolt length into solid material to guard against wind pressure and to improve security.

Fix-it with some help:

  • Properly brace garage doors and tracks to meet impact-resistant criteria. (Approximately 80% of residential hurricane damage starts with wind entry through garage doors.)
  • Brace the roof gable end framing with interior horizontal and vertical beams to strengthen the gable against strong winds.
  • If you have a fuel tank, it needs to be anchored to resist the force of floodwaters and flotation.

Fix-it when building or remodeling:

  • Install tie-downs on any porch and carport columns. (A tie-down can be a rod or a strap that better connects the porch/column and roof to the foundation.)
  • Secure wall-to-foundation and wall-to-roof connections with anchor bolts/rebar or other tie down devices to ensure wind uplift resistance.
  • Install impact-resistant windows & sliding glass doors.
  • Anchor door frames to wall framing.
  • If replacing your roof, your contractor should:
    • Confirm rafters and trusses are securely connected (tied down) to the walls.
    • Replace damaged sheathing and properly refasten existing sheathing. This should include a certified wood adhesive between the sheathing and structure members.
    • Install a roof covering designed to resist high winds and meet Class A fire-resistance specifications.
    • Consider a double-layer of heavier felt roofing paper secured, with sufficient tin-tabs, to keep it fastened to the roof sheathing.
    • Consider taping the roof sheathing joints with self-adhering roofing underlayment. This tape will prevent water damage if your roof covering is blown off.
  • If your house is more than one story, firmly connect upper story wall framing with lower framing.
  • Elevate your utilities (e.g. electrical service panel and disconnect(s), air conditioner, water heater, etc.) above the base flood elevation (100-year flood) or higher.
  • Install sewer backflow valves to prevent sewage entry into your home during flooding.
  • Construct or reinforce an interior room or reinforced shelter from high winds or tornadoes.

Wildfires and Lightning

Fix-it yourself:

  • Clear a 30-foot “defensible space” between your home and surrounding wooded areas, removing all dry grass, leaves, brush and firewood.
  • Prune all lower branches within six feet of the ground, for trees taller than 18 feet, to prevent ground fires from spreading to treetops.
  • Install surge protection devices on all electrical appliances in your home.
  • Have at least one dry chemical fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Install smoke detectors. Test the detectors monthly. Change batteries at least once a year.
  • Enclose the undersides of balconies and above-ground decks with non-combustible materials.
  • Cover fireplace chimney outlet, attic vents and sub-floor vents with non-combustible screening of 1/4-inch size or less to prevent spread of fire.

Fix-it with some help:

  • Install a whole house surge protection system to protect against lightning damage.
  • Fix-it when building or remodeling:
  • Consider installing a residential fire sprinkler system.
  • Install ground fault indicators within electrical outlets.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund