It’s hurricane season and it’s sobering to reflect on the tremendous destruction that hurricanes are capable of. Hurricane Katrina, which struck the nation in August 2005, totaled more than $160 billion in economic damage, the costliest natural disaster hurricane on record. As noted by the National Hurricane Center, the peak season for hurricanes is late-August through late October.
Follow these six steps from the Insurance Information Institute (III) to minimize the danger that you and your family may face in the event of a hurricane:
1. Plan your evacuation route well ahead of time
If you live on the coast or in a mobile home, you may have to evacuate in the event of a major storm.
While you’ll no doubt get instructions from the local government, it’s wise to create your evacuation plan well before a disaster strikes. This way, you can know ahead of time about the nearest shelters, take your pets into account in your plan, make sure to take important papers and make a trial run.
2. Keep non-perishable emergency supplies on hand
What’s the first thing people do when there’s a hurricane warning? Rush to the stores. That is not one of the six steps. As much as possible, get ahead of the rush and have the following on hand:
- Extra batteries
- Candles or lamps with fuel
- Matches (keep these dry)
- Materials and tools for emergency home repairs — such as heavy plastic sheeting, plywood, a hammer, etc.
- Prescription drugs
- A three-day supply of drinking water
- Food that you don’t have to refrigerate or cook
- First-aid supplies
- A portable NOAA weather radio
- A wrench and other basic tools
- A flashlight
If you need to evacuate, you’ll bring these supplies with you. As expirations dates approach (for example, food or batteries), use the items and replenish your emergency stash.
3. Take an inventory of your personal property
Create a home inventory to help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process, substantiate losses for income tax purposes and is helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid. In the event that you need to evacuate, be sure your home inventory is among the important documents you take with you.
4. Review your insurance policies
Make sure you understand your coverage and whether it’s adequate to repair or rebuild your home, if necessary, and to replace your belongings. Call us if you’re in doubt!
Keep in mind that your homeowners' insurance covers the cost of temporary repairs for hurricane damage, as well as reasonable additional living expenses (ALE) over and above your normal living expenses if you have to relocate (such as the extra expense of getting to work or to school if your temporary home is in a different community).
However, your homeowners' policy doesn’t cover flood damage, so you may want to consider looking into flood insurance. If you live by the coast, you may also need a separate policy for protection against wind and wind-blown water damage.
If you have questions about what your current policy will cover or need to augment your current coverage, please call us.
5. Take steps to protect your home
Hurricane-force winds can turn landscaping materials into missiles that can break windows and doors and much of the property damage associated with hurricanes occurs after the windstorm when rain enters structures through broken windows, doors and openings in the roof.
If you can’t afford to retrofit your home to protect against these possibilities all at once, start to do so in stages:
- Replace gravel or rock landscaping materials with shredded bark, which is lighter and won’t cause as much harm.
- Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed.
- Install storm shutters to protect your windows from breakage. Alternately, fit plywood panels to your windows. When a storm approaches you can nail them to your window frames.
- Make sure exterior doors are hurricane proof and have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock that is at least one inch long.
- Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood. These types of doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.
- Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through a hole as large as this poses grave problems for the rest of your home — especially your roof.
- Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall. Use a high-quality urethane-based caulk to prevent water penetration.
- If you live in a mobile home make sure you know how to secure it against high winds and be sure to review your mobile home insurance policy.
- If you have a boat on a trailer, know how to anchor the trailer to the ground or house—and review your boat insurance policy.
6. Personalize your disaster preparedness with a specialized app developed by the III.
The Know Your Plan™ Mobile App includes preloaded checklists to identify key mitigation and preparation steps or you can use it to create your own lists from scratch. Either method lets you set due dates, chart progress, and include notes, contact lists and other information — and share your checklists with family and friends.
For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.