Weathering a hurricane begins with preparation. That includes having insurance that fully protects your home and assets. It’s always wise to review your insurance policy’s documents to confirm that you have coverage related to wind and flood damage. Many people think their homeowners policy is enough, and find themselves left without coverage when they need it.
Outside of reviewing and understanding your insurance policy, there are steps you can take to increase your safety and minimize loss. While it’s impossible to control when or where a hurricane will hit, the best way to minimize any potential damage is to have a plan before, during and after a hurricane.
Before a Hurricane
1. Stay Informed
If a hurricane is approaching, make sure you have access to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio broadcasts. Some options for NOAA updates include:
- Find a NOAA radio station online.
- Search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or on Google Play.
- Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio.
2. Make a Plan
Sit down with your family, loved ones or neighbors to create a plan for quick evacuation. It’s also important to know where your local emergency shelter is ahead of time and understand community disaster preparedness plans. Select a common meeting place or single point-of-contact for all family members. If you have pets or animals, have a plan for their evacuation as well.
3. Prep an Emergency Kit
Collect flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing and toiletries.
4. Secure Your Home's Exterior
Trim large trees and shrubs and clear loose and clogged rain gutters to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on your awnings. Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans. Cover your windows with permanent storm shutters or buy one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
5. Fuel and Power Up
Keep all vehicles well-fueled in case of evacuation, as power failures render gas pumps inoperable. It’s also important to charge your cell phone as phone systems are often down or busy during a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
6. Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Utilities
Move appliances and household fixtures away from exterior doors and window openings to cabinets or interior closets. Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from possible power surges. Turn off utilities – if told to do so by authorities – to prevent damage to your home or within the community.
7. Store Important Documents
Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a safe-deposit box, with copies stored on hand – you may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a hurricane causes flooding. Take a few minutes to document the contents of your home with digital pictures or video and create a room-by-room inventory list, if possible.
8. Evacuation Orders
Follow all emergency mandates, including evacuation orders.
During a Hurricane
1. Stay Put
While it may be tempting to flee, do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. All it takes is six inches of fast-moving water to knock you down and one foot of moving water to sweep your vehicle away. Beyond the danger of being pulled down by the current, it’s best to avoid contact with flood water as it may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
2. Get to Higher Ground
Flood waters can rise fast, so if you find yourself trapped in a building by flooding, get to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic because you may become trapped by rising flood water.
After a Hurricane
1. Listen to the Authorities
If you are evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Stay informed by listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
2. Be Wary of Electrocution
Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report any to the power company immediately. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
3. Stay Away from Flood Water
As with during the hurricane, do not wade in flood water, which can contain dangerous illnesses, debris, chemicals, waste and wildlife. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
4. Document Everything
Keep all receipts for out-of-pocket expenses during the hurricane. Inspect your home’s structure, utilities and systems after a hurricane. Take pictures of home damage – both of the buildings and its contents. Notify NFP right away if you believe you will have a claim to file.
Hurricanes are stressful and unpredictable, but by following the tips above, you can prepare yourself in the event disaster strikes. If you have any questions, please contact an NFP representative today.
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