Invest in HVAC unit covers

Watch for flying debris that may find itself lodged in your air conditioner, says Richard Ciresi, franchise owner of an Aire Serv in Louisville. Check your HVAC unit’s manufacturer and contact the company for a cover; these work in conjunction with the system, so it can keep working at full capacity when the cover is in use.

Use plywood for windows

For those closer to big storms, it’s good to always have half-inch-thick plywood cut for your windows at the ready. If a storm is coming, place the plywood on the exterior of your window, says Frank Klavon, owner of a Glass Doctor business in West Palm Beach, Fla. Make sure the plywood complies with state inspection standards. To be able to reuse the boards, Klavon recommends Plylox carbon steel clips for securing the plywood. For windows that are 24 inches square, only two steel clips are necessary.

Install high-impact glass

If you know that your home will be exposed to hurricanes year after year, Klavon suggests installing high-impact glass, which has plastic film sandwiched between two sheets of tempered glass. When hit, it will crack into spider-web patterns, much like a windshield. (These windows are also great burglar deterrents.) If the $35 to $50 cost per square foot is too much, a less-expensive option is clear plastic hurricane film, which also prevents glass from shattering but doesn’t prevent wind from blowing the window out of the frame.

Clean the sump pump

Don Glovan of Asheville, N.C., a business coach for Mr. Rooter Plumbing, says that if you have a basement or crawl-space sump pump, you’ll want to make sure it’s working automatically and that it’s clear of any debris. Consider, too, a battery backup system for the pump. (Contact the manufacturer for a cost-friendly and easy-to-install option, he says.)

Find the water shut-off valve

If you don’t know where your water-main valve is, now’s the time to find it. “Being able to turn off your water in an emergency is very important, as it will prevent potential leaks and damage,” Glovan says.

Clear gutters and drains

The last thing you want in a storm is to have gutters that are backed up; the water will find a way out, probably into your roof and attic. Make sure all drains are clear, too, to prevent basement or crawl-space flooding.

Trim trees and shrubbery

Trim back any branches touching your house, recommends Jack White, director of special projects at Rainbow International Restoration in Waco, Tex. Any branches that rub the roof can pull parts of it off in a storm. Well-pruned trees will also allow wind to pass through with minimal debris, he says. If there are slanted trees, the area might need regrading to strengthen the ground and support the trees’ roots.

Check the foundation

Walk along the perimeter of your home and check for cracks or signs of stress in the foundation, because these can cause flooding or plumbing issues. If you see anything, Glovan says, patch the problems before the peak of hurricane season.

Protect appliances

When storms hit, they can cause power outages and electrical surges that can damage interior appliances, says Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance. Surge protectors come in two main types, he explains: “a box that plugs directly into a wall receptacle or a strip with a power cord and multiple plug-in outlets.” Also, make sure that any appliances in lower levels are up on wood or concrete blocks to keep their motors above possible flood levels. (Never walk into a flooded area that has appliances, because you can get shocked.)

Consider a generator

A generator doesn’t have to break the bank. “Even one that’s big enough to run a refrigerator and plug in a few essentials can really make life easier,” White says. Consider which appliances you couldn’t live without for a few days (a sump pump or refrigerator, for example) and find a model that will provide enough energy for those needs.

Insulate water heaters

A quick fix that will reduce heat loss in water heaters by 25 to 40 percent, Glovan says, is an insulating blanket or insulation tubes. Hurricanes can cause leaks in your house that will up the consumption of heating and air-system energy.

Verify insurance coverage

Give your homeowners insurance agent a call and, if needed, purchase additional flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program to make sure you have adequate protection. “You should also consider taking detailed photos of your home — inside and outside — and its contents in case you need to reference it at a later date,” White says.

Secure important documents

Finally, in case worse comes to worst, make sure you have important documents photocopied, backed up and even secured in a waterproof and fireproof safe or container, White recommends. Secured important documents, such as health-insurance cards, tax records, birth certificates and passports, will make post-disaster life that much easier.