Take the time to safeguard your home

The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to the National Hurricane Center, it's important to strengthen the exterior of your house so wind and debris do not tear holes in it.

To keep out wind, you can protect and reinforce four key areas: roof, windows, doors and garage doors. A good time to do this is when you are making home improvements or adding a room.

Tips for protecting yourself and your home:

 Make sure your homeowner, windstorm and flood insurance policies are effective.

 Check your battery-powered equipment and have extra batteries handy.

 Develop an evacuation plan so that everyone in your family will know where to go if they have to leave.

 Tape will not protect your windows. If you don't have impact-resistant windows, then get shutters. Plywood should be a last resort.

 Plywood that is not properly attached to your house can rip off during high winds and become a projectile that can cause serious harm to your property and that of your neighbors.

 Reinforce the garage door and tracks with center supports.

 Bring inside objects that can blow away, such as your mailbox, garbage cans and lawn furniture. What you can't move, anchor.

 Remove your TV antenna, but be careful not to touch electrical wires. Unplug your TV before taking down your antenna.

 Take ''before'' pictures of your home and store them in a secure place.

 Cover valuable indoor furniture with plastic. A can of roofing tar and a roll of heavy plastic could be useful after a storm.

 Choose a safe room, preferably an interior hallway or bedroom with no windows, to ride out the storm. Keep a mattress and a functional fire extinguisher nearby.

 Pack your valuables in waterproof containers. Valuables include jewelry, titles, deeds, insurance papers, licenses, stocks, bonds, etc.

 Refill prescriptions. Obtain an extra supply of special medication.

 Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from lifting from their tracks.

 If you leave your home, shut off gas and electricity at the main power source. Shut off water lines to your home.

 Avoid using electric appliances during the storm.

 If your evacuation route is impassible and you become trapped on low ground, seek refuge in a third- or fourth-floor hallway of a high-rise.