Hurricane season runs from June 1st through the end of November every year. It can be a stressful time of year depending on where you live, as tropical storms and hurricanes bring the threat of personal danger as well as property damage. Preparing for the worst can help keep you, your family, and first responders out of harm’s way.
How to be hurricane ready
The best way to prepare for hurricane activity is before the storm. The following bullet points can help you get ready for whatever Mother Nature churns up this summer and fall:
- Restock your disaster supplies. A flashlight, replacement batteries, prescription medicine, first-aid kit, and a 72-hour supply of non-perishable food and water should be included
- Fill all gas canisters with fuel for your generator or car if there’s a long-term power outage
- Clean out gutters of leaves, dirt, and debris to prevent localized flooding
- Assemble emergency contact information, including emails as well as phone numbers
- Have a professional look at heating and cooling systems to see if they require servicing
- Go over an emergency evacuation strategy with family
- Consider investing in storm shutters to protect windows from shattering when heavy winds blow
- Clear out storage areas so lawn furniture can be put away quickly if a hurricane is forecast
- Find out more about your community’s hurricane response plan by contacting your local legislator
A quality checklist can go a long way towards making sure you’re prepared for whatever may come. There are tons of premade lists on the internet that are great to keep with your emergency supplies for reference or as inspiration for making your own!
Review your insurance policies
Regardless of how accurate NOAA or CSU climatologists turn out to be, even one bad storm can make an otherwise inactive hurricane season devastating. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Insurance Information Institute reported more than 1.1 million insurance claims were filed. Total claim costs totaled $7.1 billion for personal coverage, including homeowner’s insurance and auto insurance. For overall insured property losses, the grand total was more than $18.7 billion, not including the $7.2 billion that was paid out in flood insurance claims. After double checking your emergency supplies and going over your evacuation route ahead of time with your family, it’s also a good idea to review your policies to make sure your home and belongings are covered.
Take inventory of your personal property:
Creating a home inventory of your belongings will make it easier to be sure your policy sufficiently covers the cost of your personal possessions. In the event of a disaster, it can also help speed along the claims process. Make sure you keep your inventory with other important documents in case you need to evacuate.
Understand your coverage and deductibles:
Knowing your policy limits and what is covered if your home or property is damaged in a storm can help mitigate losses. It can pay to understand what it will cost to rebuild your home and what amount your insurance currently covers. It’s also important to note what disasters are covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
Flooding is a common exclusion to many homeowners insurance policies. With floods being the number one natural disaster in the United States, it’s something that families need to take seriously if they want to protect their property from incurring serious damage. FEMA reports that just one inch of flood water can cause more than $25,000 in damage. Though floods can’t be prevented entirely, there are various preparations individuals can perform in order to mitigate losses that result.
Because flooding is a ground concern, anything in low lying areas can be affected, making cellars and basements particularly vulnerable. Property experts recommend moving all items and possessions that can be transported to higher ground, such as electronics and furniture. Additionally, if a home’s furnace is in the basement, these should be elevated, as well as water heaters if possible. FEMA has a helpful guide that points out what to do if flooding is anticipated.
Some preparations may require more planning, but the time put into them can pay off. FEMA suggests that if feasible, homeowners should see if they or a professional can build a barrier surrounding the base of a residence that can prevent flood water from entering. Waterproofing compounds to fill holes and seal walls may also prove effective.
Prepare your car for inclement weather
There are no guarantees when it comes to the weather. A long-range forecast may say one thing today, but by tomorrow, what was supposed to be a sunny day can turn into a cool and cloudy one overnight. With that in mind, we have some tips to protect your car from possible torrential rain and gale-force winds.
Take stock before the storm
Just like with your home inventory, it can be helpful to take an inventory (and pictures) of your car’s condition before the inclement weather hits. These can be used after the fact for insurance purposes, so make sure you get photos of the interior and exterior.
Fill ‘er up
While you’re taking stock of your vehicle, check your gas level — you’ll want to be sure to fill up your tank before the weather gets too intense. If you need to evacuate, it will likely be difficult to get to a gas station, and you might be sitting in long lines of traffic on the way out of town. If you have an extra gas canister, fill that up too while you’re at it!
Waterproof the important stuff
Put copies of your insurance information and your car’s registration in a sealable plastic bag — this will keep these important documents dry in case your car gets waterlogged. If possible, make extra copies and keep them in your home or another safe place.
Make a roadside emergency kit
Take a cue from the Boy Scouts on this one — always be prepared. Make sure your trunk is filled with things you might need for your car in an emergency, such as: jumper cables, a tire jack, flashlights & radios (with batteries!), a tool kit, and that extra canister of gas we mentioned earlier. Also, be sure to include things for you and your loved ones in case of an emergency, like blankets and a first aid kit.
Park somewhere safe
If your home has a garage, now is the time to use it since it’s best if your vehicle is sheltered from the direct rain and wind (we recommend backing in so you can make a quick exit if necessary). However, if you don’t have access to a garage, parking your car close to a building is the next best option since it will offer some protection from high winds. No sturdy buildings around? Try to park your car away from power lines, light poles, and trees — or anything else that could fall on your car and cause damage.
Make a game plan
Keep a close eye on the forecast so you know when the storm is expected to reach your area. Be informed of emergency evacuation routes where you live and make sure you and your loved ones are all on the same page. Designate two emergency meeting areas: one near your house, and one farther away in case you are evacuated.
Hurricanes and other acts of nature can be frightening because of our lack of control over the damage they can cause. But by being informed and taking the necessary steps to prepare, we can make ourselves as ready as possible to weather the storm.
The internet is chock full of some great websites that you and your family can use to prepare for whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeves this hurricane season. Ready.gov, for example, has an assortment of subsections detailing what to do to effectively prepare your home just in case a hurricane hits. It also has tips on what to do in the aftermath once the storm passes through.
You may also want to check out the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s homepage. In addition to basic tips on hurricane readiness for your home, it offers suggestions on how to keep your business protected.
With proper knowledge and preparation, you can rest assured that your home and family will be as safe as possible this hurricane season.
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