Protecting Your Family and Home from Hurricanes and Severe Windstorms
If you own a house that is located along the ocean, bay or within a coastal county, your home may be vulnerable to wind damage caused by a hurricane or Nor’ Easter. It is important to take preventative measures to help protect your family, home and possessions. Here are some things you can do:
Protect Personal Belongings and Important Documents Jewelry and collectibles
- Valuables should be inventoried and stored in a secure location (such as an inland bank safety deposit box). If off-site storage is not possible, then place these items in a waterproof container and store in an interior closet.
- Keep all Personal documents and important papers such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers, and insurance policy information in a bank safe deposit box or other off-site storage, or in waterproof containers.
Damage Prevention Steps When a Storm Approaches
- Clear loose objects. Bring outside patio and lawn furniture, potted plants, and outdoor bicycles and toys indoors. Help your neighbor bring in their backyard items as well so these items do not become flying objects that impact your home. Be sure all awnings are closed and secured. Tie down any other loose items that may become projectiles in a high wind.
- Reinforce windows & doors. If your windows and doors are not wind and impact resistant, plywood can be used as last minute protection. However, be sure it is strongly secured.
- Reinforce your garage door. If you do not have a storm bar or other garage door reinforcement, you may want to back up your car against the inside of your garage door to help prevent it from “twisting” due to high winds.
- Move furniture and household fixtures. Move them away from exterior door and window openings. If possible, elevate these items and cover them with plastic.
- Secure household appliances. Appliances, including personal computers, should be unplugged and stored away in cabinets or interior closets.
- Test and refuel your backup generator
Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit
Assemble and maintain an emergency supply kit throughout the hurricane season. Items should be stored in a watertight container. Include items that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, canned food, a fire extinguisher (ABC rated), bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing, sanitary/hygienic supplies, and a first aid kit. Store your kit in a place commonly known to all family members. Replace and/or refresh items in your kit every six months.
Prepare an “Action Plan” in the Event of an Evacuation
- Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plan and know your evacuation route. Check with The American Civil Defense Association for the safest escape route in the event of a flood warning.
- Have a predetermined destination in mind so you can quickly relocate to a shelter or relative’s house. Select a common meeting place or single point of contact for all family members in case you are separated through the evacuation process.
- If you have pets, plan for their evacuation as well.
- All vehicles should be fueled well in advance of evacuation. Gas will be hard to come by. Power failures will render gas pumps inoperable.
- Make sure your cell phone has a full charge, and bring along the charger.
- Always stay informed of approaching storms by monitoring local television and radio stations for severe weather updates.
If You Are Unable to Evacuate
- Identify a “shelter” room in your home. This enclosed area should be on the first floor, in the central part of the house and with no windows. When the storm gets bad, go there. Avoid all unprotected windows and doors until the storm passes.
- Remain in contact with neighbors. Others who are riding out a storm may need your help and you may need theirs.
- Use your emergency supply of water or boil any water before drinking, until official word is given that the water is safe.
- After the storm passes, beware of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the proper authorities.
Understand Your Insurance Coverage
- Review your homeowners policy with your agent or broker so you understand the amount you will receive in the event of a covered loss and if it will be adequate to rebuild your home. Also know the amount of your deductible and any special provisions in your policy such as wind exclusions.
- Know your responsibilities such as installing shutters, making arrangements to have your home secured if you are away, and verifying that emergency generators and sump pumps are functioning.
- Homeowner’s policies usually do not cover loss due to flooding. However, coverage can be purchased from the federal government.