Two Phases of Hurricane Preparedness: Pre-Season

Does the term “hurricane preparation” conjure up visions of frantic last-minute shoppers clearing grocery store shelves of bottled water or people struggling in the wind to cover their windows with plywood? Or does it create a sense of confusion and fear because you aren’t sure what it really means? It doesn’t have to be that way. You may not be able to avoid the storm—but you can avoid the panic. Here’s how:

Understand that there are two phases to hurricane preparedness: pre-season and pre-storm. Taking care of the pre-season tasks long before you hear a weather forecaster say, “A tropical wave has formed off the coast of Africa” will make your pre-storm prep far more manageable.

Hurricane Pre-Season Check List

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1. Here’s what you need to do well in advance of that important date:

  • Take pictures or video of your home and contents. Open cabinets and drawers so you can see what’s inside. If you’re doing a video, narrate it as you go along, describing the room and some of the key contents. Store printed images or a disk with your insurance papers or back up electronic files to a safe cloud-based storage location such as Crashplan or Carbonite. Update your visual inventory annually.
  • Review your homeowners insurance. Are your policy limits still appropriate for the value of your home and personal property? If not, let your agent know. Check your hurricane deductible so you know what your out-of-pocket costs will be if you suffer a loss. Update the contact information you’ll need if you have to file a claim.
  • Conduct a storm check of your property. Have trees professionally trimmed so that the wind will blow through the branches rather than pushing the tree over. If you have a generator, test it before you need it—and be sure you know how to safely operate it. Decide how you will protect windows and glass doors. If you have shutters, make sure they can be securely closed; if you’ll use plywood, be sure you have the right sizes pre-cut and the necessary fasteners to put them up. Reinforce your garage door if necessary. Check for loose gutters and other items that could be damaged by high winds and rain. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out and all leaves and debris removed.
  • Assemble your storm kit. Don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on non-perishable supplies. At a minimum, your advance storm kit should include drinking water, canned and other shelf-stable packaged foods that don’t require cooking, a manual can opener, anti-bacterial hand wipes, gel hand cleaners, paper towels, flashlights and/or lanterns, a battery-operated radio and/or television, and plenty of batteries. Avoid candles—they generate heat and are a fire risk. But have matches or a lighter on hand. Include a basic first aid kit so you have appropriate supplies to deal with any injuries. Include some post-storm supplies such as tarps and tie-downs so you can take immediate steps to mitigate any damage that occurs.
  • Create a hurricane plan. Talk to family members, consider any special needs or circumstances you may face (such as an elderly or disabled family member, infants, pets, and work demands), and be ready take appropriate action if a storm approaches. If you do not live in your home year-round, identify someone—either a friend, family member or management company—that you can rely on to handle pre-storm preparation.

In our next blog, we’ll explain what to do when the storm watches and warnings are raised.

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.