Do you know how “at-risk” your home is for wind damage? The Southeastern United States is hit by a major storm or hurricane every 2 1/4 years on average — so it pays to know ahead of time. If you don’t know already, schedule a visit to your local American Red Cross chapter, or your community’s emergency management organization to talk about the potential hazards in your community. Otherwise, continue reading to learn more about how to protect your property from the damages during severe winds.

Your Roof: Is it Properly Sheathed?

During a windstorm, the force from the wind can cause an impact on roof, and is driven from the eaves downward into the exterior walls and into the foundation. But if the roof isn’t sheathed properly — i.e. if the boards or plywood nailed to the rafters or if the trusses aren’t properly attached), they can come loose during a hurricane and the wind will simply rip off your roof. Before a severe storm, check your roof sheathing to ensure it has been property installed and in good condition.

End Gables: Are They Secure?

The end gables (the ‘side walls’ of your roof) can take a serious beating in a tropical storm; they’re one of the more vulnerable areas to wind damage. To keep your end gables strong, they should be braced with wood planks in an ‘X’ pattern at both ends of your attic, with one side of the ‘X’ attached to the peak and bottom-center of the gable and the other side attached to beams and trusses 5-8′ into the interior of the attic.

Your Walls: Are They Strapped To The Roof?

Hurricane straps — galvanized metal plates that bolt to the roof and to the tops of the walls can go a long way toward keeping your roof attached to the top of your home. They can be hard to install so you may want to contact a contractor for installation, but they’re vital for protecting your home from wind damage.

Your Windows: Are They Shuttered?

Storm shutters are one of the best ways to protect your home from wind damage. Any exposed glass surfaces, from French doors to windows to skylights, needs to have aluminum, steel, or hardwood storm shutters. In a pinch, nailing 5/8-inch or thicker plywood over the outside of your windows can create a makeshift storm shutter, but having actual shutters installed before the storm can ensure a much higher chance of preventing damages.