Essential Tips for US Virgin Islands Homeowners


Living in the US Virgin Islands offers many perks, from stunning ocean views to a relaxed island lifestyle. However, it also comes with the responsibility of preparing for hurricanes. These powerful storms can cause significant damage, but with proper preparation, you can safeguard your home and protect your family. Here are essential tips for preparing your home for a hurricane.

  1. Create a Hurricane Preparedness Plan
    Start by developing a comprehensive hurricane preparedness plan for your household. This plan should include evacuation routes, a list of emergency contacts, and a designated safe room within your home. Ensure every family member is familiar with the plan and knows their roles and responsibilities.
  1. Secure Windows and Doors
    Windows and doors are vulnerable entry points during a hurricane. Invest in storm shutters or plywood to cover windows and prevent shattering from high winds and flying debris. Reinforce doors with heavy-duty hinges and deadbolts to keep them secure.
  1. Clear and Secure Outdoor Areas
    Remove or secure any loose items in your yard, such as patio furniture, potted plants, and garden tools. These items can become dangerous projectiles during a hurricane. Trim trees and shrubs to reduce the risk of branches breaking off and causing damage. Don’t forget to cut down coconuts!
  1. Inspect and Repair the Roof
    Your roof is one of the most critical areas to fortify. Inspect it for loose or damaged areas and repair any issues promptly. Consider installing hurricane straps or clips to help secure the roof to the structure of your home, providing extra stability against strong winds.
  1. Check and Clear Gutters and Drains
    Ensure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris. Proper drainage can prevent water from accumulating and causing flooding or water damage to your home. Check that all drains around your property are clear and functioning correctly.
  1. Secure Essential Utilities
    Know how to turn off utilities such as gas, water, and electricity in case of an emergency. Ensure that all fuel tanks are securely anchored to prevent them from being dislodged during the storm. Having a backup generator can provide power during outages, but make sure it’s properly installed and maintained.
  1. Prepare an Emergency Kit
    Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential supplies such as non-perishable food, water, medications, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, and important documents. Keep this kit in an easily accessible location, and ensure all family members know where it is. Fill up water bottles to use for cooking, bathing, and flushing the toilet.
  1. Review Your Insurance Coverage
    Review your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for hurricane-related damage. Consider adding flood insurance, as standard policies often do not cover flood damage. Keep an inventory of your home’s contents and document their condition for insurance purposes. Photographs of the inside of your home can be very helpful if you need to file a claim.
  1. Stay Informed and Communicate
    Stay informed about the weather by monitoring local news and weather forecasts. Sign up for emergency alerts to receive timely updates. Communicate with your neighbors and local community to share information and resources.
  1. Consider Leaving Island Before the Storm
    A direct hit from a hurricane is devastating, and even more so when living on a small island. Damage to the electrical grid, public utilities, airports, hospitals, grocery stores, and other facilities can take a long time to repair, and living conditions can be uncomfortable without power, shopping, and telecommunication services. Transportation options after the storm may not be available.

Preparing your home for a hurricane is essential for protecting your property and loved ones in the US Virgin Islands. By taking proactive steps and following these guidelines, you can minimize damage and enhance your peace of mind during hurricane season. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and prioritize safety to weather the storm successfully.