1. Evaluate your home’s “exterior envelope,” from the garage and roof structure to windows and doors. Exterior openings of the home play a crucial role in severe storms. If wind pressure penetrates the home, it can lead to catastrophic results.
2. Know your zone. Areas of the country subject to strong winds or hurricanes are categorized into four zones. The zone in which you live determines the types of windows and doors required to meet building codes. Zone 4 has the most stringent requirements and mandates exterior building products that can stand up to wind pressure and impacts.
3. Get tech savvy. Learn about new technology for building products that can help you avoid the hassle and pitfalls of boarding up windows and doors. There are new products available, like storm protection windows and patio doors that can withstand a 2×4 striking the window at 34 miles per hour.
4. Keep the yard clean. Remove objects that can become wind-borne hazards, and trim nearby trees that have broken or dead branches. Even a benign object like a lightweight lawn chair can turn into a dangerous missile during a severe storm.
5. Pack a fresh disaster kit. A first aid kit, flashlight, canned food and at least three gallons of drinking water per person are key, according to Red Cross guidelines. Don’t forget to include written directions on how to turn off your home’s water, gas and electric service, in case you’re told to do so. A professional will need to restart your service when all is clear.
6. Prepare a family evacuation plan. The Red Cross also advises that families decide where they are going to meet ahead of time if they are told to evacuate.
7. Understand the ratings. Homes in any of the wind-borne debris regions must also have windows and doors with specific design pressure (DP) ratings, which include both positive and negative numbers. The positive number corresponds to pressure created by wind blowing at a window and door. The negative number represents vacuum pressure on the inner side of the window or door.

Video of Preparations. Text credit: Jamie Godfrey