COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As Hurricane Irma edges closer to South Carolina, homeowners can do more than worry. Experts say there are many ways to help protect your property, some of them at low or no cost.
Trimming trees helps.Dead sections or broken limbs can often be cut away in advance of the storm, reducing chances that they can become projectiles in hurricane force winds.
In Columbia's Cross Hill neighborhood, Joe Hartley is concerned about one of the tall pine trees already leaning at a precarious angle in his front yard.
"We've got large pine trees that kind of surround the house," Hartley says. "The wind could push those into the house and cause a lot of damage."
While removing the tree might be expensive, Hartley and other homeowners could do a lot to lessen the potential for other items stored around their houses to be picked up by high winds.
Garbage cans, lawn decorations, barbecue grills, patio furniture, umbrellas, planters, and bicycles can be easily stored or secured. While most Columbia area homeowners do not have storm shutters, boarding up windows using long screws sunk into the framing can help.
Also effective: garage door braces. The National Weather Service says reinforcing a garage door can reduce the possibility of a wind surge that can cause the roof of the home to lift off.
Insurance experts also recommend using deadbolts and other devices to lock doors, inspecting and securing roof tiles, closing air vents and fireplace dampers and cleaning out storm drains and rain gutters.
But some authorities suggest the popular practice of taping windows to prevent them from shattering is ineffective and possibly a waste of time as a storm bears down.