Riders on the Storm – Things You Must Know When Opting Not to Evacuate During a Hurricane

When big storms loom, many Alabama, Florida and South Carolina homeowners batten down the hatches and ride out bad weather at home. Here are twelve tips to help keep your family safe in your home during inclement weather.

  1. Prepare a survival kit – bottled water, canned/dried foods, flashlights, emergency contact list, backup computer files.
  2. Before a major storm, make sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand. Fill your sinks and bathtub with water, but use this water only for tasks like spot washing clothes or bathing. Stick to drinking bottled water after a storm when possible.
  3. Keep away from doors and windows. While many believe cracking open windows before a storm will help reduce wind damage, this is a myth. Studies show that it is safer to keep them closed when possible to prevent wind from entering. It’s also a myth that you need to open your windows to relieve pressure in the house.
  4. If there is any possibility your home may flood, turn off your electricity at the main breaker. It is better to be without electricity for a few hours than to run the risk of electrocution.
  5. Avoid using electrical appliances during the storm, including your phone and computer. Before the storm, unplug all non-essential appliances to prevent power surge damage and avoid filing a claim. If you do lose power, after the event unplug major appliances like computers, flat screen tv’s, and media surround systems to reduce damage when local utility companies restore power.
  6. If you do not evacuate, stay inside. Many people are tempted to venture out to experience the wind. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 76 people died of wind-related hazards in 2011.
  7. Stay tuned to your NOAA weather radio and local media outlets. Stock up on all types of batteries before the storm to ensure your flashlights and radios have adequate power to withstand a lengthy power outage.
  8. Taping windows will not help reduce damage, this is also a myth. Taping a window may prevent glass from spilling into the residence once it is shattered but will not prevent breakage from flying objects. Instead, install 5/8 inch plywood over windows and doors if you do not have hurricane shutters. Pre-drilling anchor holes can be a huge timesaver when damaging storms come barreling into Alabama, Florida and South Carolina.
  9. Avoid the upper floors of your home or condominium. While some believe upper floors of homes or condos are safe places to brave storms, wind speeds increase as elevation climbs. The lowest floor of your home or condominium may remain relatively intact while upper floors may suffer blown-out windows and damaged siding.
  10. Some pets become extremely agitated during storms. When a potential weather disaster approaches, bring your pets inside where they are safe. Make certain pets are wearing collars with up-to-date information on their name tags. Micro-chipping your pet is highly recommend as it provides back-up identification in case your pet loses its collar. Keep leashes and crates close by so you can move pets safely and easily. Finally, plan. Find places outside of your geographical area that would be a safe haven for your pet. It could be a friend or family member’s house, an animal shelter or a boarding facility. Make sure you have adequate pet food, treats and pet medicines on hand before the storm arrives. For more information on pet disaster preparedness visit the ASCPCA website.
  11. During storms, avoid candle use. Candles start about five percent of home fires. During storms, candles are especially unsafe. Tipping from wind gusts and gas leaks can cause candles to ignite. Rely on flashlights and avoid non-battery operated lanterns and candles.
  12. Generators provide backup power, but they pose unique hazards. Generators that are hard wired to your home’s electrical system and installed professionally by a licensed electrician are the safest. Never leave a generator running in a closed garage. A generator exhausts carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas. Odorless, you may not know you are exposed to its fumes. Always run your generator outdoors and away from your home’s air intake vents. Generators are also prime targets for thieves after a storm when demand for them is high. Since proper placement requires them to be outside your home, make sure you have a chain or other device to secure your generator and prevent would be thieves.
  13. Above all, remain calm. Storms may take hours to pass and information about conditions may be sketchy. Emergencies stretch public safety crews to their limit, so call 911 only in extreme emergencies. Be sure your first-aid kit is up to date so you can self-treat smaller cuts and abrasions you may experience.

Storms are a fact for Alabama, Florida and South Carolina homeowners. With essential items on hand and a working knowledge of storm safety, you can ensure you and your family can ride out a storm at home. However, you should always develop an exit plan in the event you do need to leave your home. While no one wants to evacuate, you should always follow the directions of local, county and state authorities.

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.