If you live in an area of the country prone to hurricanes, preparation is the key to reducing damage. Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, so protecting it from natural disasters should be a top priority. Basics, like making sure your homeowner’s insurance is up-to-date and will fully cover rebuilding and adding flood insurance are smart investments in the event of a disaster.

Whether you’re shopping for a new one, or renovating your existing home, There are several key elements to look for that can better protect your home from a major storm, without sacrificing your home’s interior design.

While the past several years have seen fewer severe storms, this year, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicted a “near-normal” hurricane season. That means 10 to 16 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes.

While the seasonal forecast can’t predict which parts of the country may be affected, being prepared is a smart investment in both time and money. Here are a few practical features to look for, or include in your next home remodeling to be prepared before the wind and rains come!

Hurricane Shutters

We’ve all watched the news before a hurricane and seen the runs on the big box home improvement stores. People are scrambling to buy plywood to cover their windows. Often the stores will sell-out before the storm and if you’re not early, your home could be in danger.

A smart investment is collapsable hurricane shutters. When they’re not in use, they are stored above the window, out of sight. When a hurricane is forecast, you can lower the shade and your home is protected from flying objects. Hurricane shutters are available that can be manually engaged, or if you have the budget, lowered automatically with a remote device.

Upgrade to Impact-Resistant Glass Windows

New windows are a smart investment for a number of reasons. They can help to lower your utility costs by keeping conditioned air in. New coatings can help to protect furniture and fabrics from fading and if you’re planning on upgrading your windows, installing hurricane glass can protect your home from the damage caused by wind and rain when they regular windows may fail. Hurricane windows are typically layered glass which contains layers of clear PVB or EVA plastic between the multiple layers. In the event of breakage, these layers keep the windows intact. They look just like regular windows so your interior design is not affected, but they work to keep you safe in winds of up to 180 mph!

Upgrade Your Electrical System to Be Generator Ready

During Hurricane Andrew, parts of Florida were without power for weeks. Another upgrade that can keep you safe and secure, without impacting your home’s interior design, is upgrading your electrical system to add an in-line generator system. In the event of a power failure, some systems will automatically turn on and use your home existing wiring without interruption. Others may need a manual start and can be hard-wired to key systems in your home like the air conditions, refrigeration, and lighting.

Preparing your home in the event of natural disaster is a smart decision that doesn’t have to impact your home’s interior design. While some items, like bringing in lawn furniture will happen as the storm approaches, having peace of mind by knowing that you’ve installed protection like hurricane shutters and installing impact-resistant glass are one-time items that will pay for themselves. Taking the time to prepare is a smart investment that you’ll be glad you made should the worst case happen.