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COA Resources
  • Driver's License - You must make sure you change your address with your State's department of motor vehicles (DMV).
  • Magazine Address Changes - We have collected some great information on how to change your address to keep getting the magazines you love at your new home.
  • Name Change Checklist - If you have recently gotten married, divorced, or changed your name for any other reason, then this list of resources will help you make sure you notify organizations that need to know your new name.
  • Driver's License - You must make sure you change your address with your State's department of motor vehicles (DMV).
  • USPS COA Site - You can pay a small fee to change your address here OR you can use our FREE service.
  • USPS Options for Receiving Mail - This is an interesting page where you can see what your options are for receiving mail. Did you know you had any?
  • Call to Change Your Address - This is an FAQ entry on how to change your address over the telephone.
  • USPS State Abbreviations - This is a real quick table for looking up State abbreviations.

Archive for July, 2010

20 Resources for Home Satellite Dish Enthusiasts

Many people have thought about moving away from their cable TV provider over to the World of satellite TV. Sometimes they are really aggravated by their local cable company or branch and other times they just want something different. Whatever the reason, once they jump into using a satellite dish for TV it can become a real passion. However, there are many other uses for satellite technologies in your home. You can enjoy satellite radio and you may also want to give satellite internet a try. Why? Well, why not? If you are reading this article, I’ll assume you are interested and looking for more great resources and/or a way to get started. So without further ado, here is my list of 20 resources for home satellite dish enthusiasts. If you have other sites, don’t be shy… reply to this post with recommendations for other great sites!

Satellite TV Blogs

  • FTA List – Easily my favorite satellite TV blog and extremely practical at the same time as it provides a complete listing of FTA satellite shows along with tons of useful information on how to get started with free-to-air satellite equipment.
  • ABA DSS – Another great site for FTA that boasts of over 450,000 members in their forums. I highly recommend that you check this forum out or find another as you venture into FTA. Getting information from other FTA enthusiasts can save you a ridiculous amount of time and money.
  • Satellite TV Guru – This is pretty much an intro to satellite TV blog with some good comparisons of DIRECTV and Dish (although not a lot of FTA satellite data). If you are just wanting to see the latest from the commercial satellite companies then this is a good site to visit.
  • FTA Top List – This is a listing of a bunch of great FTA (free-to-air) satellite resources. In addition to the list you can find facts about FTA, what it is, and more from this site.
  • Top 100 DSS – This is another listing of top satellite TV sites, some overlap from the FTA Top List, but still a good site with a slightly better design than the FTA Top List so you might give this a try if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for on FTA Top List.

Satellite Radio Blogs

  • Satellite Radio Center – Here is a good site to get some basic information on satellite radio including some of the large commercial satellite radio companies. It’s not super fresh but still a credible source of information.
  • Orbicast – This is really an amazing site for all things satellite radio they have been covering the industry since 2004 and really do a great job of keeping their readers informed. This is a must visit satellite radio site!
  • Satellite Radio on Blogspot – Sort of a bare bones blog design (blogspot and all), but it has some interesting articles about people getting over-billed for XM satellite radio and other good and quick reads.
  • Top Satellite Radio – Boy this site currently has a super annoying pop-up ad when you enter but once you get past that, you get a good channel guide and resource for satellite radio.
  • XM Fan – Okay, had to sneak this one in being an absolute die-hard XM satellite fan. Anyway, still a big fan of forums for satellite technologies just because you can get so many questions answered (usually just by searching previous posts).

Satellite Internet Blogs

  • DSL Reports – Okay, this seems like the wrong technology, but they have a great satellite internet section on their forum for WildBlue, HughesNet, and other satellite companies. Get the real scoop from other users!
  • Sat Sig – Okay, we are getting a bit more technical with this great satellite internet resource. It has a list of satellites and some solid facts about what you need to do when you are prepping to fire up a satellite internet service.
  • Internet Satellite Blogspot – I am a fan of blogspot so I search it fairly often when looking for information on subjects of interest to me. I found this site a while ago and am now following it too as the posts are really unique like “Reliable Satellite Internet Services for Soldiers”. Good stuff!
  • Vstatus Blogspot – Here is another blogspot blog that attempts to give the straight scoop on satellite internet to help current and prospective users (especially those in rural areas). It’s a solid read.

Satellite Phone Blogs

  • Satellite Phone Forum – There are more satellite phone providers than you think. This forum does a good job of covering the major ones and again giving you a feel for people’s experiences with each of them.
  • Sat Phone Buzz – Here’s a nice blog that has some well written articles about satellite phone technologies. Interesting articles like… “How to Use Twitter from Your Satellite Phone.”
  • Satellite Phone News Now – Definitely the most current and complete site of aggregated information related to satellite phones. In this satellite category, this is the must-read site.

General Satellite Blogs

  • Satellite Dish – Satellite is a site dedicated to listing all of the satellites currently in orbit, which companies put them there, and what the intended use is of each of the satellites. It’s really interesting for the hard-core satellite enthusiast.
  • Satellite Guys – Satellite Guys have a really interesting forum that I would recommend you join if you are interested in satellite technology and want some places to go to in order to ask questions and get timely answers. The forums have over 150,000 members, pretty amazing!
  • Satellite Insight – What I love about this site is that it really does exactly what the domain name says, provides insight into all kinds of satellite companies and technologies.

10 Projects You Need a Handyman to Do For You

Inside all of us there is a great sense of accomplishment that comes from doing our own home repairs.  It’s generally fun and always feels good to finish the project and realize that you are capable of far more than you give yourself credit for (or others give you credit for).  However, there are some projects that you really need a handyman or certified professional to do for you.  Not because you can’t necessarily do the work yourself (nice double negative), but that it generally isn’t a good idea for you to do it.  Please keep in mind that this information is coming from someone that uses a handyman on a regular basis so there is some bias infused.  It’s particularly a good idea to use a handyman for these if you have several small projects that need to get done.  Without further ado, here are 10 projects you need a handyman to do for you:

  1. Installing a new shower/tub (including small plumbing repairs) – If you are looking to add a shower to an existing tub or even put up a shower in your basement, you can use a handyman to make sure the job gets done right.  Any type of work that involves plumbing or electrical wiring are generally things that I recommend that only the most avid and skilled people attempt DIY.  I have had a handyman build out multiple showers in the past and it was much less expensive than a traditional contractor in all cases (and the job was done right the first time, every time).  Common DIY problems: broken water pipes, damage to the water pipes, drainage issues, etc.
  2. Adding electrical outlets to a room – As mentioned above, I am a big believer of not messing with electricity unless you really know what you are doing as you can easily overload a circuit if you aren’t careful which is dangerous on multiple levels.  So it’s not just the possible risk of electrocution (which shouldn’t happen), but it’s also risk of fires and other problems down the road.  I use a handyman over an electrician for these types of tasks because I generally have additional work for them to do at the same time.  Common DIY problems: blown circuits, electrical fires, improper voltage for the intended use, etc.
  3. Built-in cabinet work – I also have used a handyman to build out multiple custom cabinets for me.  In some cases just converting an open closet or cubby into a cabinet and in other cases building out a vanity in the bathroom or kitchen cabinet replacements/repairs.  You would be surprised the good ideas that a skilled handyman can come up with to maximize storage space.  Common DIY problems: cabinet doors don’t line up, cabinet breaks easily, cabinet cannot sustain the weight or is not anchored properly.
  4. Small roofing repairs – Working on the roof can be dangerous as it is relatively easy to fall especially if you have a steep incline.  In addition, it’s really important to make sure you know how to properly apply the shingles in order to have a good seal and to protect your home from water damage and the elements in general.  You can easily use a handyman service to fully re-shingle a roof as well.  Common DIY problems: leaky roofs, injuries from trying to repair the roof, inability to re-shingle after an improper repair.
  5. Building a deck or repairing a deck – If you have bad steps on your desk or portions of the wood has rotted, then a handyman is perfect for making a safe repair to the deck (making sure that the deck will still be able to bear the load placed on it, etc.).  Common DIY problems: collapsed decks due to improper load, posts not anchored deep enough, etc.
  6. Garage door repair or replacement – If you have ever tried to replace a garage door yourself you will almost immediately appreciate having a handyman do this task for you the next time.  Especially in the case that you are both installing a door and a garage door opener.  Common DIY Problems: garage door is not calibrated to stay open if something or someone is under it, garage opener fails to work, etc.
  7. Washer or Dryer installation – Installing a washer or dryer can be a very simple task if the proper hookups are already in place.  If they are then you should definitely do it yourself.  But if you have a gas dryer and want an electrical one or if for any other reason the hookups are wrong, then a handyman is a good idea.  You also need to make sure the venting is adequate, not obstructed, and done properly.  Common DIY Problems: wrong connections, improper venting (fire hazard), and damaging the washer/dryer due to improper connections.
  8. Sprinkler system repairs – This has a similar problem as doing any interior plumbing work (no surprise there).  It’s really easy to have leaks in sprinkler systems and improper drainage if repairs are not done properly (in fact this is usually why they need to be repaired).  We aren’t talking about changing sprinkler heads you can and should do that yourself.  We are talking about a break in the PVC pipe or some other more significant issue.  Common DIY Problems: no backflow preventer, leaks persist or get worse, etc.
  9. Gas line work (gas fireplaces, stove lines, other gas lines). This is a lot like electrical and plumbing work, it’s not something that the average DIY person should tackle.  It’s really easy to end up with gas leaks that could be devastating and are just not worth the risk.  Common DIY Problems: improper seals causing gas leaks, improper and unsafe connections, improper placement of gas lines, etc.
  10. Mold removal and cleaning services – If you have mold problems with drywall and/or even the exterior of your home you should have a handyman or other professional take care of the problem.  One of the biggest reasons this is important is that mold can be dangerous and you also need to identify the source of the mold to take preventative measures.  Common DIY Problems: improper handling of mold and repeat problems due to just covering up the mold.

10 Tips For Choosing a Maid Service

If you are debating on whether or not it is time to hire a maid service or maybe you need to switch to a different maid service, there are several important questions that you should ask a prospective service providers.  When you invite a maid service into your home you are trying to take a burden off of your shoulders and to make your home a better, cleaner place to live.  Unfortunately, if you hire the wrong service you can find things stolen, broken, and/or simply just not up to your expectations.  We put together a list of 10 tips/questions that you should ask a prospective maid service to make sure your expectations and theirs are properly set.

  1. Ask the maid service if they will send the same team to your house every week.  Why?  Well, consistency is important as they will both be familiar with your house and how you like to have it cleaned.  If the maid service cannot promise you the same employees it may be due to a high turnover rate or some other factor that you will want to know upfront (maybe they hire daily temporary workers, etc.).
  2. Ask the maid service if they are bonded.  This will provide you with protection in the event that you suspect or catch a maid stealing from you (again, hopefully this never happens but knowing they are bonded helps protect you).
  3. Ask the maid service if they are fully insured.  You want to make sure that the maid service is going to cover any accidents that may occur at your home while a maid is cleaning.  Make sure they have liability and employee accident coverage and that their contract makes it clear they are responsible and not you.
  4. Ask the maid service about their employee screening practices.  Do they run background checks on all of their employees to make sure that they do not have criminal records?  Do they perform regular drug screenings on their employees (drug abuse is the last thing you want going on in your home).
  5. Ask the maid service about the cleaning products they use.  Do they provide the products or do you have to provide them?  If they provide the products, which products do they use so you can make sure that you approve of them and that there are no concerns over allergies or odors that cause problems for you.
  6. Ask the maid service about cleaning equipments including vacuums and other items normally used to clean the house.  Do they provide their own or are you responsible and if they use your equipment (this is very rare and should not be the case) what happens if they damage your equipment?
  7. Ask the maid service for references for comparable jobs.  The ideal scenario is that you will know one of their existing clients.  However, in any case it is always good to hear from an existing customer.  When you call the references make sure you ask for some negative feedback as well to try and keep them honest.
  8. Ask the maid service what their guarantee or quality assurance policies are.  What happens if you are not happy with their work?  Do they come back out for free and finish the job to your satisfaction or do they essentially end up doing nothing?
  9. Ask the maid service about household chores that they won’t do.  Make sure you know if they won’t do windows and/or other cleaning tasks so that you don’t get an unpleasant surprise later.  Do they load and unload the dishwasher?  How do they decide if a room is too messy to be cleaned?  These are all good things to know in advance.
  10. Ask the maid service about their policy around holidays.  What happens if your normal cleaning day falls on a holiday?  Do you get skipped?  Do they shift clients a day?  What can you expect?  While you are on the subject of schedules you should also find out how far in advance you can cancel a particular cleaning just in case you are not ready for the maid service (e.g. you haven’t picked up the house and it is the night before they are supposed to come).

Of course, price is also a factor in choosing a maid service.  Some maid services charge by the room and some will just come in and quote cleaning for the whole house.  Make sure you consider frequency as well (sometimes you get a price reduction per cleaning that is significant if you have them clean weekly instead of every other week for instance).  We strongly encourage you though to NOT make price the determining factor because in the end that is almost a sure way to be unhappy with your maid service.  It’s best to get a good value considering all of the points above and not just the cheapest possible maid service.  There are lots of good options out there so don’t settle on the first maid service that gives you a quote, find the best (get a quote and ask the questions above to at least two different service providers).

10 Ways to Surprise Your Mail Carrier

When was the last time you stopped your mail carrier to say hello or thank him or her for the work they are doing on a daily basis?  If you are like most people you either don’t know the name of your postal carrier or have never even thought about saying a couple of kind words to them.  Does that make sense?  I mean they carry mail for us Monday thru Saturday through all kinds of weather and other conditions so we can get letters, checks, bills, and other things that are critical to our lives.  It seems that they are definitely under appreciated.  So I put together this list of 10 ways to surprise your mail carrier.

  1. The next time you see your mail carrier, say hello to them and let them know that you really appreciate their efforts to deliver your mail.  You can let them know how much you look forward to the letters they bring and other important items.   You would be surprised by how much a few kind words can mean to them.
  2. Remember the joy you experienced when you got your first letter in the mail and consider that without the post office you would never have been able to experience it.  If you keep that in mind you might view getting your mail less like drudgery and more with anticipation.  Plus, you may just be more friendly with your carrier (as if they were the flower delivery person).
  3. Try to keep your mailbox in good order.  Don’t ignore the mail and let it stack up as this makes it much more difficult for your carrier to deliver your mail.  While you may get a lot of junk mail, you also get important letters and if your mailbox is too full you may have to go to the post office to get the mail you really need.
  4. Speaking of junk mail… Do sign up for services that attempt to block junk mail.  You may be surprised to find that the post office doesn’t particularly like to deliver junk mail to you any more than you like receiving it.  Here is another article that may help you:
  5. If you are going to move, remember to fill out a change of address form in advance of your move.  For whatever reason most people tend to completely forget about changing their address with the USPS until after they have moved and realize that they need some of their mail.
  6. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time (say more than one week), remember to fill out a temporary change of address card so that the USPS will hold your mail and it won’t stack up waiting for your return.
  7. Make sure you know that you have adequate postage on your envelopes and anything else that you try to send via mail.  Just because you can jam a lot into an envelope doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the same price.  Think about that… it makes perfect sense.
  8. Try to use a full and correct address when you send letters or mail to others.  Yes, that includes making sure that you have 9-digit zip code whenever possible.  If you don’t know the proper address then you can use the USPS’s website to quickly find the full address (it is located here:
  9. If you have pets, make sure that you keep them out of the way of the postal carriers.  You know about when the mail arrives and you can make sure to not let your pets out during that time.  I’m sure your postal carrier would greatly appreciate that.
  10. Don’t forget your postal carrier around the holidays.  Try to drop them a note or a gift card to let them know that you appreciate their efforts throughout the year.  Again, they are providing a daily service to you and do it without requesting anything in return all through the year.  Show them you appreciate their dedication.

Most of these things are just simple things that you can easily do which will make a big difference to your mail carrier and if several people across the country do it, to the post office in general.  We really do forget the history behind the post office and the important role it has served throughout U.S. history.  Let’s try to do our best to show more appreciation going forward.

Top 10 Pests That Can Damage Your Home

Bugs are a pain, especially when they show up to your home uninvited. They invade every nook and cranny, making themselves comfortable without regard to your sensitivities as the owner. In the most severe cases, they’ll damage the structure of your home, causing expensive repairs. The least offensive pests can still be major annoyances by stealing your food and dirtying your home. The result is that you turn into a mass pest murderer as you turn your home upside down in an effort to reclaim it as your own. Below are 10 pests that destroy your home – or at least make it feel less homely.

  • TermitesTermites are accountable for far more damage to homes across America than any other pest. Each year, they cause billions of dollars in destruction as they feast on wood, insulation and various household items. Additionally, they can harm or kill trees and shrubs in your yard. Termites crave cellulose, which is found in dead wood, and their complex networks of tunnels in the soil enable them to find food and water.
  • Carpenter AntsThose big and black ants that are typically spotted in your kitchen or bathroom are carpenter ants. Although they aren’t as destructive as termites, they damage wood by foraging tunnels in which they move from place to place. The greater amount of time a colony lives within structure, the more damage is done. Carpenter ants prefer to nest in wood that’s moist, so you’re more likely to spot them in areas where there have been pipe leaks or poor water circulation.
  • Carpenter BeesCarpenter bees can cause superficial damage to wood structures if they’re allowed to drill tunnels over long periods of time. They prefer unpainted and unfinished wood, meaning they’re most commonly present in low-maintenance areas surrounding your house. More severe damage can be done to siding, which is thinner and less durable wood. They also leave their yellowish-brown fecal matter around the holes in which they nest.
  • Powerpost BeetlesThe larvae of powerpost beetles consume dry wood. They infest a wide range of household wood-related items, including plywood, subflooring, beams, sills, hardwood furniture, wall paneling and hardwood floors. Their presence isn’t usually spotted by homeowners until damage is done; they create a network of tunnels beneath the visible surface of the wood, and the result is an accumulation of disintegrated wood.
  • Carpet BeetlesThey may appear harmless, but carpet beetles have been known to damage furnishings, carpet and clothing that are composed of fibers like silk, wool, bristles, hair, feathers or fur. Their larvae feast on lint and dust, making your home the perfect place for them to raise a healthy family. Often, they congregate around flowers and other plants that produce pollen, and they make their move for the indoors when humans give them the opportunity.
  • Cigarette BeetlesCigarette Beetles are found in stored products – mainly tobacco products, hence the name. They can do a lot of damage to your pantry during their two to four week lifespan. Cigarette beetles and their larvae are typically found feeding on different types of fruit, seeds, grains, rice, pepper and even upholstery stuffing. During a good year (for them), five to six generations can live in your home. When they aren’t eating they can be spotted hanging out around items that produce light.
  • Grain WeevilLike cigarette beetles, grain weevils infiltrate your pantry in a quest to devour a wide variety of foods. Rice, granary and maize weevils consume rice, corn, popcorn, wheat, sunflower seeds, beans and nuts. Their larvae contribute to the pantry raid as well – they feed on seeds and grains. If you spot tiny round holes in kernels of corn, for example, chances are that you have weevil problem. When unnoticed, they can live up to four weeks and up to five generations can survive per year.
  • House CricketsHouse crickets can show up in large numbers, and when they do, they can cause damage to fabrics made of woolen and silk. They’re most attracted to stains in clothing and furniture, so you might not be the only one enjoying an unclean living environment. Typically, they live two to three months, and prefer warm habitats, but can survive cold winters. They lay their eggs in damp areas, and their lifespan is two to three months.
  • House MicePerhaps no pest is more unwanted inside a home than a mouse, which can damage – by gnawing on – electrical wiring, attic insulation, containers of food and miscellaneous household items. Of course, mice eat just about any type of food to which they gain access, leaving behind their droppings on usually clean surfaces. Their presence also becomes apparent when your dog or cat presents you with a dead carcass. Mice are major carriers of disease – the list of illnesses they can transmit to humans includes food poisoning and rickettsial pox, and they can spread various parasites as well.
  • Norway RatsNorway Rats are most commonly spotted in suburban homes. Rats in general are often confused with mice – and vice versa – but there are a couple of clear distinctions between the rodent pests. Rats are larger and they have long and thin tails, which are also perhaps their most disgusting feature. Like mice, they gnaw on various household items, including upholstery, and they eat human and pet food. During the year-long life of a female rate, up to 80 babies can be birthed in the right environment.

Top 10 Destinations for Snowbirds

Snowbirds migrate from Northern States to various locations in the South and Southwestern States in the Fall in preparation for colder weather.  These are not the foul that fly in the sky but in general retirement aged couples that hop into their RV’s and drive to retirement communities located in warmer States.   There are several very well known destinations for snowbirds but we put together a list of the Top 10 Destinations for Snowbirds to give retirement couples some additional choices that they might not have considered.

  1. Sun City, AZ – Sun City has a population of over 42,000 and is a 55+ community that offers just about everything that a snowbird or retiree could want to escape from the cold of Winter and enjoy some great activities with fellow snowbirds.  You can get more information on Sun City from this site: among many other great sites about Sun City.
  2. Boca Raton, FL – For years this city of over 75,000 people has been a popular destination for snowbirds.  It’s got great beaches and tons of other attractions for people that are not overly crowded during the Winter months so great for snowbirds.  The TV show Seinfeld mentioned Del Boca Vista as a prime retirement community and wouldn’t you know it, there are several communities with similar names in Boca Raton, coincidence?  We think not.
  3. Las Vegas, NV – Well what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?  So it’s a great place to spend the Winter!  You have tons of places to play games and some of the best shows in the World.  At the same time, you get warm and dry weather making Vegas a very popular destination for snowbirds.
  4. San Diego, CA – This is one of the fastest growing locations for snowbirds due to its moderate temperatures and all of the comforts of being in the 2nd largest city in CA.  If you like life in a larger city then San Diego is a city you should check out as there are a growing number of rental properties available for snowbirds.  Plus, you can enjoy some amazing whale watching and other benefits of being on the Pacific coast.
  5. Key West, FL – This is the Southern-most city in the United States and it is simply magical.  If you have never been to Key West then you have to give this place a try (even if it is just for one Winter, although you will want to come back).  There is great fishing and flat out the best beaches in the U.S. (let’s hope the recent BP oil spill doesn’t spoil it).
  6. Sedona, AZ – If you are looking for something completely different and some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America, then Sedona is exactly where you should spend the Winter.  It is an artistic haven as well with some of the best local artists in the SouthWest.  There is also a National Forest (1.8 million acres) called Coconino.
  7. Destin, FL – Leave it to another Florida city to challenge our proclomation above that Key West has the best beaches.  Okay, it’s either Key West or Destin, but Destin surely is spectacular.  If you are looking for great fishing and long walks along amazing beaches then Destin is another great choice.  Destin has an average of 343 sunny days every year and sugary-white powder-soft sand beaches.
  8. McAllen, TX – There are a lot of great TX snowbird locations in “The Valley.”  McAllen leads the way with its 45 RV parks and of course being the Square Dance Capital of the World.  The cost of living is low in McAllen and it has some amazing wildlife watching festivals deep in the Rio Grande Valley.  If you are a bird watcher then McAllen is the place for you.
  9. Alamogordo, NM – Looking for something different?  How about an amazing place in North America that is 70 degrees all year long?  Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  Well Alamogordo offers that and a rich mecca for New Mexican culture.  This is a growing destination for snowbirds and one visit here (coupled with the amazing weather) and you can clearly see why.
  10. Yuma, AZ – There are 100,000 residents in Yuma (year-round residents), but this place explodes to almost 200,000 every Winter as snowbirds take up residency in this hub of the Southwest.  There are 60 RV resorts and parks and it is pretty much ready to go for snowbirds on the move so pack your RV and head to Yuma this next Winter.

If you are looking for more popular destinations for snowbirds then we recommend that you take a look at this site.  They will give you even more great ideas as you prepare for the next Winter.

Top 10 Ways to Prep Your Home for a Hurricane

Now that hurricane season is upon us, residents of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts are bracing themselves for another wild ride. The 2010 season is supposed to be particularly active, according to Joe Bastardi is predicting that five hurricanes will make landfall in and 16 to 18 tropical storms will emerge as threats to land. The increase in activity is a result of several factors, including warmer ocean temperatures, higher humidity levels, weakening trade winds and the weakening El Nino. Fortunately, steps can be taken to lessen the potential damage to your home caused by high winds and flooding; below are 10 ways to prep it for a hurricane.

  • Purchase flood insurance

    Purchase flood insurance well in advance of hurricane season – there’s typically a 30 day waiting period before it takes effect. It’s the best way to recover from the damage caused by water. Keep in mind that your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Even though you may live in a high risk area, you can acquire coverage if your community takes part in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). When determining the premium, insurance companies consider the building’s occupancy, the year it was built, the number of floors, its location and elevation.

  • Reinforce your windows

    Installing hurricane shutters is an economical and time-saving way to protect your windows from wind and debris. They’re composed of aluminum or steel, and remain attached to the wall using bolts or tracks. Hurricane shutters are usually removable, so they don’t have to remain an eyesore year-round. If it’s too late to install shutters, or if you simply don’t want them, you can do things the old fashioned way and cover your windows with pre-cut plywood, which can be purchased at hardware stores.

  • Purchase a standby generator

    When you’re waiting for the things to return to normal after a hurricane, you’re bound to experience an extended period of time without power. If you want life to be easier due to the presence of electricity, you’ll need a generator. Standby electric generators consume natural gas and propane, and one is potent enough, it can power your home for days at a time.

  • Turn off utilities

    Turn off utilities if instructed by authorities. Gas fires can occur when pipelines and tanks are damaged by debris, and power surges can damage electronics inside of your home. Additionally, you should ensure your generator is properly maintained, and you should closely follow instructions for usage to avoid harmful mistakes. If you choose to keep your electricity on just before the storm, turn down the temperature setting of your refrigerator to its coldest so that it will remain cold well after an outage.

  • Store outdoor items

    It’s not uncommon for homeowners to adorn their yards with items like wind chimes, statues and fountains. Hurricane-force winds are capable of tossing around even the heaviest of objects – including large barbecue grills – so be sure to store any movable object that’s sitting outside. If you have room in your garage, use it. Otherwise, utilize storage areas or even the inside of your home.

  • Trim trees and shrubs

    Your trees and shrubs should be trimmed regularly for aesthetic purposes, but keeping them well-pruned also makes your home and neighborhood safer during hurricanes. High winds can turn branches into missiles, destroying everything in their paths. Don’t wait until the last moment – trimming during a hurricane watch or warning is extremely dangerous.

  • Lock all doors and windows

    Whether you plan to remain inside of your home during the storm or intend to evacuate, it’s important that you keep all of your doors and windows locked. During the aftermath, the area in which you live can become a danger zone; temporary lawlessness can occur as a result of impactful natural disasters. Don’t risk your belongings – or what’s left of them.

  • Store important belongings in protective containers

    The most devastating aspect of hurricane destruction – aside from the damage done to your house – is the loss of irreplaceable items like family photos and heirlooms. Be sure to store important documents and valuables in lockable waterproof containers. Utilize safety deposit boxes and above-ground storage units.

  • Stock up on water and nonperishable foods

    As hurricane season approaches, stow away enough nonperishable food items to last from the onset to the aftermath of a hurricane. If you wait until the last moment before the storm, you’ll have to fight large crowds of people from your community for the remaining food at your grocery store. During the late spring, purchase canned goods, dry foods and bottled water. When a hurricane strikes, keep them above the ground where they can’t be contaminated by flood waters.

  • Stock up on additional supplies

    In order to function like a civilized human being, you’ll need to stock up on additional items. Have a first aid kit and container with enough medication to last your family for a couple of weeks. Have fresh batteries, a flashlight, lantern and radio. Have enough clothing, and compile the necessary toiletries and hygiene items to remain externally healthy. Also, have cash and credit cards just in case, and entertainment items like books and games to pass time. And of course, keep your car’s gas tank full.