Two Phases of Hurricane Preparedness: Pre-Storm

In “Two Phases of Hurricane Preparedness – Pre-Season,” we explained what you should do before hurricane season starts to protect yourself, your family and your property if a storm hits. When hurricane watches and warnings are issued for your area, it’s time to put your hurricane plan into action.
Here’s what to do:

  • Get some cash. In the aftermath of a storm, you may not be able to use your credit, debit or ATM cards due to power outages, or you may need to make purchases from merchants who only accept cash. It’s a good idea to have at least several hundred dollars in cash.
  • Fill your gas tanks. Without power, gas pumps won’t work. Top off the gas tanks of all your vehicles before the storm hits if you are not evacuating and before you hit the road if you are. If you have a generator, get enough gas to run it for several days; be sure to use safe, approved containers. Remember, if you do not have electricity, you’ll need another source of power for essential electronics and to charge cell phones.
  • Protect important documents. Place critical paperwork (identification, insurance information, passports, cash, special photos, critical contact information, etc.) in a waterproof, fireproof container that you can take with you if you leave.
  • Fill prescriptions and take care of medical needs. Have at least a two-week supply of medications on hand. If anyone in your home uses oxygen or medical devices that require electricity, make appropriate arrangements for their safety in the event of a power failure.
  • Prepare your home. Cover windows and glass doors with plywood or storm shutters. Do not use tape on your windows—it will not protect your windows from breaking and could increase the risk of greater damage or injury. Bring inside or secure any items that may become airborne in the wind, such as outdoor furniture, grills, trashcans and potted plants. Check your storm kit and buy any additional supplies you may need. Fill bath tubs with clean water; if you have children or pets, be sure bathroom doors are securely closed to prevent a drowning accident. If you have an infant or toddler in diapers, have a two-week supply on hand.
  • Identify a safe room. Select the inner-most part of your home—ideally a room on the ground floor without windows—where you can ride out the storm. Put mattresses, bedding and snacks in that room so you don’t have to leave it during the storm. If you are in a high-rise building, take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Finalize a family communication plan. If your family becomes separated during the storm, decide in advance how you will communicate with one another and where you will meet when it is safe to do so. Also determine how you will contact out-of-state relatives with news during and after the storm.

Should You Evacuate?

One of the most important issues for coastal residents is the decision to evacuate. Some people are simply reluctant to leave their property, even under the threat of a major storm. Other objections to evacuating include the cost and overall life disruption (work, school and other activities).

If authorities issue a mandatory evacuation order, follow it. If evacuation is optional, make an informed decision based on your situation and risk.

Some evacuation tips:

  • Prepare your home before you leave. In addition to the pre-storm preparations above, turn off the gas to prevent leaks from broken or damaged lines.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. If you do, roads will be jammed and the storm may catch up with you.
  • Have a destination. Know where you’re going, whether it’s to a hotel, friend’s home or shelter. If possible, make a guaranteed hotel reservation before you leave. If you are bringing pets, be sure your destination is pet-friendly.
  • Start with a full tank of gas. You want to be able to stay on the road as long as possible before stopping for fuel.
  • Take the essentials. Every family member should pack their own toiletries and clothes for two or three days. Bring prescription medications plus a copy of the prescription. Take your container of important documents. If you are going to a shelter, bring your own pillows and bedding. Pack books, puzzles or other entertainment as well as snacks for the trip.

Securing a Second Home

If you have a second home in a coastal area and are not able to take care of hurricane preparations yourself, arrange for a management company to do it for you. They should put up storm shutters or plywood and secure the exterior of your property before the storm hits, then check and provide you with a status report after the storm passes.

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.