Every family should have a preparation plan for hurricane season, but, for homesteaders, it might be even more vital to do so. Not only do you take live and take shelter in our homes, but you also gather much of our sustenance from the land. Keeping it all safe from a storm, therefore, is something you should be ready to do.
To make the process simpler, here are four tips to ensure your homestead is ready for the next hurricane on the horizon:
1. Have an Emergency and Evacuation Plan
This applies whether you’re a homesteader or not. It’s essential that every family have an emergency kit at the ready in case of a hurricane or any other natural disaster that could cut them off from supplies. So, build your kit — the Red Cross suggests one gallon of water per person, per day, as well as batteries, flashlights, cash and other items.
On top of that, familiarize yourself with your hometown’s hurricane evacuation plans so you can escape along the safest route. If you don’t have time to evacuate, you might also find that your community has safe shelters where you can weather the storm with more protection than you’d have at home. It’s good to know where these places are well in advance of an impending storm, just in case you need them.
2. Keep Your Property Pristine
You probably do this already, but pruning the foliage around your homestead will make you, your family and your pets safer in the midst of a storm. Cut away any loose or weak tree branches and limbs — if it looks like a strong gust of wind could whip them away, they need to go. Otherwise, there’s a possibility that they could snap, fly through the high-speed winds and cause damage to your property or person.
Another home-maintenance must-do — keeping your homestead’s gutters clean. A few times each year, you should climb a ladder and remove any clogs with a leaf scooper or, if needed, a plumber’s snake. With emptied gutters, you can rest assured that hurricane rainwater will drain away from your home, thus staving off potential water damage.
3. Protect Your Home as the Storm Comes
You’ve already built an emergency kit, learned evacuation routes and maintained a clean homestead. Once you know a storm’s coming, so you have lots more preparation to do before the hurricane arrives.
For starters, look outside — any untethered items will have to go inside, or you’ll have to tie them down. Hurricane-strength winds can pick up and throw everything from patio furniture to grills to lawn ornaments. In other words, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so make sure everything’s stored or tied tightly.
You’ll also need to protect any glass windows or doors, since contact with flying debris or high air pressure can cause them to crack and shatter. Some people cover their panes with plywood, while others cover them with pieces of duct tape to at least prevent broken windows from flying everywhere.
If you live somewhere that’s regularly affected by storms, though, you might want something more substantial. In places like Florida, where hurricanes hit nearly every year, many people have invested in impact-resistant windows. These panes rely on the same technology that stops our car windshields from shattering mid-drive — and, as an added benefit, they provide your home with extra security even without a storm on the horizon.
4. Care For the Animals, Too
Homesteads often house livestock, and you’ll want to make sure all of your herd stays safe during the storm, too. Start with the chickens — if you have room in your garage or basement, consider bringing the birds indoors for the storm. You can keep them in cages or even cardboard boxes for the duration of the hurricane.
If you can’t bring your chickens indoors, then make sure the coop is ready to take on a hurricane. Tighten or reinforce any weak or loose boards and remove any untethered items, like buckets or stools. Then board up the exterior with plywood as you would your own home. Turn off the water and electrical power to the coop during the storm, too. And stock up on feed, water and first-aid items that your birds might need.
Much of the same goes for bigger animals, although they require much more preparation and care on your part. You will need plans for evacuating them via trailer, as well as a checklist for staying home and weathering the storm. Again, smaller animals, like pigs and goats, can come into your garage or basement. With larger animals, though, your best bet is to put them in a pasture that’s unlikely to flood and protected from wind. Of course, you should stock up on plenty of food and water for these creatures, too.
With these four actions taken, your homestead and everything living on it will be prepared for a hurricane. No matter what happens as the storm approaches, use your best judgment — the most important thing is that you and your family stay safe, and that should be the driving force behind all of the decisions you make before and during the hurricane.