10 ways to prepare your home for hurricane season

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    Your home is one of your largest investments, so protecting it from natural disasters is probably one of your top priorities.

    This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center expects a "near-normal" hurricane season. That means approximately 10 to 16 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes, one to four of which may be severe, between June 1 and Nov. 30.

    "It is very important to note that the seasonal outlook cannot forecast where and when storms will form, let alone if/where they will make landfall and what the impacts would be," said Dennis Feltgen, public affairs officer for NOAA's National Hurricane Center. "It only takes one storm hitting your area to make it a bad year, regardless of the number of storms that are forecast in the seasonal outlook."

    To figure out how to best protect homes from damage in a hurricane, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety built a six-story test chamber where experts can simulate the effects of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters on full-scale one- and two-story homes, said President and CEO Julie Rochman.

    Rochman and her team have tried different home fortification techniques in the test chamber to see what works, and they've developed a set of building standards called Fortified Home that they're working to implement in hurricane-vulnerable states.

    But if you don't have the money to retrofit your home to meet the Fortified Home standards (which could include taking precautions like reroofing your home or installing new windows and glass doors), you can still do many small things to improve the chances of your home making it through a storm.

    Remember: Your own safety is more important than protecting your home, so staying behind when others are evacuating is never a good idea.

    "If the order comes to evacuate, you evacuate," Rochman said. "You're not going to stay home and hold onto the doorknob and hold the door closed. You want to go having done the things you should have done so there's a good chance when you return that your house is in good shape."

    Here are 10 things you can do before the winds start howling and the rain starts pouring down to make sure your home is protected in the event of a hurricane.

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.