How to Prepare Your Deck for a Hurricane

We’re currently at the height of another hurricane season. It’s been estimated that Harvey and Irma have collectively caused up to $200 billion in damage. That means that knowing how to effectively prepare for a hurricane is essential right now.

The first thing on your mind when preparing for a hurricane is the safety of your family and pets. It’s impossible to know how bad the damage will be and how long it will take to recover. The checklist of things you need to do to prepare may seem impossible.

After you’ve considered the safety precautions of your family, you need to start taking steps to protect your property. After all, your home is your investment.

If you live in coastal regions like the Gulf of Mexico, you probably know how to properly prepare your home for a hurricane. Securing windows and doors may be pretty straightforward. But what should be done to protect decks and patios?

Let’s take a look.

Prepare for a Hurricane the Smart Way

If you own a deck or patio, there are a number of things to consider when preparing for a big storm like Irma. Failing to make smart, logical preparations can actually lead to other areas becoming damaged during the storm. It will also lead to costly repairs to areas you’ve spent years developing.

There are things you can do to your deck and patio to prepare for the next big hurricane. When you see that that next tropical storm is gathering strength and heading your way, it’s time to get to work. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

In order to get you ready, we’ve prepared a guide to help you protect your deck, patio or backyard area for an upcoming hurricane. Following these tips may help you avoid costly repairs or the complete loss of valuable property.

Store All Loose Items

Hurricane Irma’s peak wind speed when it was hitting coastal Florida was 142 mph. With winds this strong, any loose item has the potential getting picked up and carried away. It also has the potential of becoming a destructive and dangerous missile.

You need to make sure and bring in any loose objects on or around your deck or patio. This will not only prevent you from losing these items, it also prevents them from destroying your deck or house when picked up by the wind. You want to cut down on as many objects that can potentially cause damage.

But tying these objects down may not be good enough. Winds with the power seen in Irma could easily rip items from ropes or chains. A better idea would be to store these items in a garage or storage shed.

Here’s a checklist of items you’ll want to secure when you prepare for a hurricane:

  • Grills and propane tanks
  • Potted plants regardless of size and planters
  • Deck tables, chairs, and umbrellas
  • Any type of yard ornaments
  • Pool equipment
  • Garden hoses and other tools

Make Sure Trees Are Trimmed

Falling branches and tree limbs cause a huge amount of damage in hurricanes. If you have trees in or around your yard, they need to be trimmed back. Large, overhanging branches can smash through decks and patios when torn down by high winds.

You may want to plan on having your trees trimmed throughout the year if you live in coastal areas prone to hurricanes. This may help you avoid scrambling to get it done in the matter of a few days. You may know from experience that time is of the essence when you have to prepare for a hurricane.

Trimming back your trees also helps protect your deck and dock, as well as the rest of your home. This is also a great measure for protecting vehicles and power lines.

You probably can’t avoid getting downed branches to some degree during a hurricane. But trimming them back drastically cuts down on the damage they can inflict on your deck or patio.

Secure Deck Railings and Fences

You need to be as thorough as possible when you prepare for a hurricane. There are a million little things on your deck that could possibly become big problems.

When securing your backyard, it’s important to examine your deck for any loose boards or railings. These will easily be blown off in hurricane-strength winds. Loose railings, boards, or spindles need to be secured with proper fasteners.

You may want to avoid using nails to secure your any loose parts of your deck. They provide little reliance in strong winds. You’ll need to use screws designed for outdoor use.

You also need to check any fences or gates around your deck and home. Use padlocks to secure openings and check for loose planks and fence posts. A swinging door left open can become a very destructive object in a hurricane.

Swimming Pool Precautions

If you have a deck, you may also have a swimming pool. When you prepare for a hurricane there are a number of things that must be done to your pool to avoid damage to your deck and backyard.

There is a common misconception that draining the pool is a good idea before a hurricane. This is totally false.

In fact, keeping the pool filled can actually protect your deck against moving debris. Draining could also lead to structural damage to the pool caused by high pressure and winds. It’s only recommended to drain your pool a foot or two when you prepare for a hurricane.

It may sound strange, but putting objects like patio furniture in the pool is also recommended. This helps avoid having them blow away and damaging your deck and house. If you don’t have room or time to secure patio furniture, just toss it in the pool.

Make Sure Everything Is Disconnected

Power surges and electrocution are serious business during strong storms. To prepare for a hurricane properly, you need to consider every power source and make sure it’s disconnected. This will help ensure your family’s safety and the safety of your deck and pool.

The circuit breaker to any pool pump and equipment needs to be shut down. This could include pump motors, lights, and automatic cleaning devices. You may even consider removing the pump motor if possible.

Disconnect any lighting you have built into your deck. This will help avoid explosions and the potential for fire. This type of precaution helps prevent electrical incidents even after the storm has passed.

Other items you need to disconnect could include:

  • Gas or electric systems in built-in grills
  • Propane tanks
  • Outdoor lanterns or lamps
  • Any type of decorative deck lights
  • Speakers hard-wired to an inside stereo unit

Protect Your Deck

If you know you need to prepare for a hurricane, you may want to consider a water resistant pergola to go over your deck. Some of these aren’t strong enough to withstand hurricane-strength winds, but many are.

You may even think about upgrading to a large pergola if you enjoy the shade it brings but don’t want to lose it during a hurricane. They can provide great protection and also add an attractive design element to your outside deck.

You should also make sure and keep your deck or patio properly sealed. This will protect against high exposure to water that comes with flooding. Make sure to keep a healthy coat of water sealant on your deck to ensure it’s watertight.

After the Storm

Your home and property can be left unstable after the abuse of a hurricane. It’s important that to use precaution when examining the damage to your deck and pool. Injuries and further damage can occur if you’re not careful.

Make sure you leave all electrical devices turned off until you feel everything is secure. You’ll want to go over every section of your deck and lock down any boards that have come loose. Remember, even though you prepare for a hurricane, your deck and railing may be damaged and unstable afterward.

Your pool’s electrical system should remain off until everything has been inspected. Any patio furniture or debris needs to be removed and the pH level balanced.

Remember, your deck and backyard have just been pummeled by high winds and driving rain. Take your time examining everything to determine if major repairs or replacement need to take place.

Getting Through Hurricane Season

Hurricane season can be relentless for those living in Florida or anywhere on the Gulf Coast. Even for native residents, it never gets easy. But each year brings a new opportunity to learn more about how we can effectively protect our property.

If you have a deck or patio, you need to take extra precaution when you prepare for a hurricane. We hope the guide we’ve provided will help you minimize loss and prevent injury. Your home is an investment so you need to protect it wisely.

Decks & Docks Lumber Company has provided Florida and the southeastern U.S. with top-quality lumber, decking, seawall, and dock solutions and accessories for more than 20 years. If your deck or dock has taken on damages during Hurricane Irma, contact us to discuss your options.