From the Institute for Business & Home Safety

Subject: All Eyes on Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene's winds and rains hit Puerto Rico this morning, causing widespread power outages and downing trees. Irene is the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic Season.

Irene has maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center's 8 a.m. EST advisory. Irene is moving toward the west-northwest and this track is expected to continue over the next few days.The storm is expected to dump up to 10 inches of rain on Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, and eventually the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos islands.

It's too early to tell what, if any, region of the United States will be affected by Irene, but the early forecast shows parts of the east coast of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas as potential areas of concern. Now is the time to review your hurricane precautions if you are living in these areas, urges the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Here are some affordable things IBHS recommends you do now to reduce the risk of Irene damaging your property:

1. Use caulk to seal up openings around pipes, electrical boxes and other things that bring utilities into your home or business. These openings can allow water to be blown inside during a hurricane. Read more about this project click here.

2. Evaluate what is the in yard surrounding your home or business. Find a place to store the items that can be moved and be prepared to move them inside if the hurricane threatens. Yard items can be picked up by high winds and could damage your property.
Read more about this project click here.

3. Install the hardware needed to put up shutters or pre-cut plywood to protect windows and doors. This will allow for easier installation if the storm threatens. Learn more about how to protect windows and doors from hurricane-force winds and flying debris click here.

4. Inspect your soffits. IBHS research found 70 percent of homes with damage after Hurricane Charley had soffit failure. What's a soffit? Find out more click here.