Strong winds pose a serious threat to properties and their occupants. Unlike more isolated forms of property damage like fires, winds impact large areas and are difficult to avoid. While there’s no changing the weather, homeowners who live in windy areas can read on to find seven helpful tips for keeping their houses safe from the damaging effects of heavy winds and make changes to their properties as needed.

1. Install the Right Windows

Pressure-rated windows labeled DP40 or higher are more effective at withstanding heavy gusts of wind. If properly installed and maintained, they can survive Category 4 hurricanes with gusts of up to 150 mph. Homeowners who don’t have it in the budget to replace all of their windows with more-expensive, pressure-rated models can also install shatterproof window film on existing windows for an extra layer of protection.

2. Remove Nearby Trees and Branches

Removing nearby trees and branches that could fall during a storm won’t just protect the windows. It will also reduce the risk of storm damage to the roof and other structures. Remove all large trees growing within 20 feet of the home and hire a professional to trim branches overhanging power lines.

3. Consider Landscaping Materials

Some landscaping materials, such as gravel and small rocks, can be picked up and flung by strong winds. The force of these projectiles can easily break windows and destroy other parts of the home. Opt for cement or asphalt driveways and wood mulch instead of small stones in gardens to avoid this problem.

4. Secure Objects Before Storms

If a storm is expected to roll through, homeowners should secure any outdoor objects that could be picked up by strong winds. This includes potted plants, yard furniture, patio umbrellas, children’s toys, and firewood. Firewood piles can be secured by installing a large tarp and staking it down at each corner.

5. Tape the Windows

Homeowners expecting wind gusts that will exceed the wind ratings on their windows can add a layer of extra security using masking tape or duct tape. Use the tape to form an X on the inside and outside of the windows. It can help them maintain their structural integrity if they do become cracked upon contact with flying debris.

6. Perform Storm Damage Assessments

All the preparation in the world won’t act as an absolute guarantee that no windows will be broken during a serious storm. That’s why homeowners need to perform basic damage assessments as soon as the wind calms down and the rains subside. Take photos of any damage for insurance purposes and repair the damage as soon as possible. It can also help to have photos from before the storm for comparison.

7. Have a Plan in Place

If a serious storm is heading homeowners’ way, the whole family can benefit from having a contingency plan for times when things get too bad. Plan to head to the basement or another windowless area to wait out heavy winds, determine an escape route in advance and put together an emergency kit to make dealing with potential power outages or property damage easier.

The Bottom Line

No one can control the weather, and wind storms are a frequent occurrence across many areas of the United States. Homeowners who live in windy areas need to take extra precautions to protect their properties from unnecessary damage. They should also have comprehensive homeowners’ insurance policies in place to cover any damage that does occur.