Hurricane Preparation Tips for Your Home and Family
There is no way around it. Hurricanes can ruin property and destroy lives. But there are many things you can do before a storm hits to minimize the potential impact on your home and family. When a powerful storm is bearing down, it may be too late to protect your property. Making a plan is critical.
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Threats include:
- High winds
- Heavy rainfall
- Storm surges
- Coastal and inland flooding
- Rip currents
Hurricane winds can damage or destroy homes, buildings and roads, and cause utility outages. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale estimates potential property damage on a scale of 1 to 5. The effects are frightening and showcase why it’s essential to have a plan.
Coastal flooding triggered by hurricanes is as destructive as wind and can be even more deadly. Hurricanes produce widespread torrential rains that can trigger landslides and debris flow. Flash flooding (a rapid rise in water levels) can occur due to intense rainfall over a short time.
Here are the steps you can take to prepare for hurricane season:
Gather basic items needed for survival
You can build your supplies over time by adding items gradually; it doesn’t need to happen all at once. You’ll want to stock the things you need during the storm itself and in the immediate aftermath.
Keep track of your inventory (including the expiration dates on batteries, medications and nonperishable foods) and refresh supplies as needed.
The American Red Cross recommends that your emergency kit include:
- Water: 1 gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuations; two-week supply for homes)
- Food: Nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuations; two-week supply for homes)
- A flashlight
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio, if possible
- Extra batteries
- A family-size first-aid kit
- Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items: Hearing aids, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.
- A multipurpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of essential documents: Seal them in a watertight container to keep them safe. Keep the originals and other records elsewhere, such as with a trusted person who lives in a different area, in a bank safe deposit box or on a secure cloud server.
- A cellphone and (crank or solar) charger
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- An emergency blanket: Choose one that’s waterproof, windproof, easily packable and won’t shred.
- Map(s) of the area
- An extra set of car keys and house keys
- Pet supplies
- A manual can opener
Protect your property
Make a detailed inventory of your belongings and update it annually. Supplement your inventory with photos and videos and keep copies in a safe place away from your home; cloud storage is ideal. Putting this list together may seem tedious, but it will significantly simplify any post-hurricane insurance claims you need to make.
Here are some tips on how to prepare your home before the hurricane arrives:
- Shutters: Install shutters on all windows, as the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends. Use plywood only as a last resort.
- Gutters: Clean debris from gutters and extend the downspouts to divert as much water away from your home as possible.
- Doors: Closing interior doors reduces pressure on the roof during a storm, giving it a better chance of staying intact, according to IBHS. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends closing interior doors, windows and exterior doors to reduce damage risks.
- Surroundings: Bring in loose items (such as garbage cans and lawn furniture), reinforce weak fencing, and pick up any debris in the yard that could act as a projectile during high winds.
- Trees: Cut weak or damaged tree branches and any branches that could snap in high winds and damage property below them.
- Seals: Seal off small openings and gaps with silicone caulk to protect your home from water damage.
As the storm moves closer, follow this last-minute hurricane preparedness checklist:
- Place all appliances located on the ground floor (including your stove, washer and dryer) on masonry blocks or concrete.
- Elevate furniture and electronic devices off the floor — This is particularly crucial for items in the basement and on the first floor.
- Remove area rugs from floors to prevent them from getting wet and growing mold or mildew.
- Put fresh batteries in sump pumps.
- Fuel your emergency generator and keep spare fuel on hand in a safe location.
- Shut off electrical service at the main breaker (The electrical system and outlets might become submerged from flooding.)
- Follow instructions from local authorities about evacuations and powering down utilities.
- Park your car in the garage.
Plan for evacuations
Be prepared to evacuate and do so immediately when the order is issued. Know your route and destination, and make sure you have a full tank of fuel. Get information on official area shelter locations from your local government or the American Red Cross. They can also tell you what you are and are not allowed to bring (including pets).
If you plan to leave the area, check the news for information on road closings and traffic bottlenecks. Keep a detailed old-school map in your car if you’re not able to access GPS or route guidance online. Don’t drive through flooded areas or streets. Just 2 feet of water can carry away most vehicles.
Know your insurance information
Be sure to have both your insurance policy number and your carrier claim number ready in case of damage. If the power goes out and you lose the ability to charge your phone, the last thing you want to have to deal with is not knowing critical insurance information.
Contacting your carrier directly is the smoothest, most efficient way to process a claim, but the team at Flatlands Jessup is always happy to help.
For more information on what to do after the hurricane, see our article “After the Hurricane is Over: Claims Tips and Help With Disaster Recovery” within our Knowledge Center.
This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.