The period from mid-August to late October is considered peak hurricane season. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that the 2013 season will be even more active than last year. NOAA projects up to 20 named storms, including 7 to 11 major hurricanes that will be greater than a category three.
"Research suggests that there is a 70 percent probability of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastline this season, compared to the historical average of 52 percent," says Mark R. Desrochers, president, personal lines at The Hanover. "The good news, however, is that with the right preparation, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of personal injury or having their property damaged in a storm."
With hurricane season approaching its peak, here are several tips to help individuals keep themselves, their families, and their property safe during a storm.
Preparing Well in Advance
-Review your homeowners policy with your insurance agent to determine whether you have adequate protection. In particular, consider whether you have flood insurance and if your policy will cover current rebuilding costs.
-Secure your home: Repair loose boards, shingles, shutters, down spouts—the kind of things that could become greater problems in high winds or torrential rain.
-Consider making improvements to protect your home, especially if you live on or near the coast. These could include protecting windows and doors with storm shutters.
-Make a home inventory so that you can easily offer a list of damaged possessions to your insurer in the event that you are impacted by the storm. Be as detailed as possible, listing all personal items and including photos and videos where possible. Keep your inventory list in a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box.
-Stock emergency supplies including: a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, medicines, first aid handbook and kit and a week's worth of non-perishable food and water. Other items to have on hand include: tools, blankets and/or sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, pet supplies, paper plates and cups, boards, plastic sheeting, tape and toiletries such as soap, bleach (for disinfecting), and diapers, etc.
-Develop an evacuation plan including how you will notify family and friends and where you will be staying if forced to evacuate. Share everyone's cell phone numbers and compile a list of key numbers (fire, police, etc) you might need in the case of an emergency.
During a Hurricane Watch
-Listen for advisories on the radio or TV. Follow advice from local officials on how to best protect yourself for the upcoming storm.
-Charge your cell phone and tablet battery or batteries.
-Fill the gas tank of your car(s). You'll need it if you have to evacuate. If there is a power outage, gas pumps may not be functioning. If you have a generator, ensure you have gas for that as well.
-Bring items inside your home that could become dangerous as flying objects, including all toys and lawn furniture. Make sure that sheds, cabanas and similar detached structures are securely anchored.
-Protect glass windows with boards, shutters or tape. Otherwise they could be broken from wind pressure.
-Move important papers and valuables to the second floor if you expect flooding.
-Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting so food will last longer if the power goes out.
-Fill your clean bathtub with extra water.
During the Storm
-Get inside immediately and stay calm. Don't panic. Stay tuned to weather updates.
-Check on family members and friends.
-Evacuate motor homes and take shelter in a grounded building.
-Windows and doors should be closed at all times and boarded up with wooden or metal shutters if possible.
-Stay away from windows. Stay in the center of the room, or in an inside room.
-If flooding begins, turn off electricity.
If you have an Evacuation
-Communicate with all family members so that everyone knows where to go.
-Turn off utilities, including gas, water and electricity.
-Lock doors and windows.
-Leave a message for authorities notifying them where you will be.
-Take important documents, including your insurance policies.
-Bring emergency supplies, such as battery-powered radio, cell phones, flashlights, extra batteries, prescriptions, first aid kit and non-perishable food and water.
-When advised to leave, go as soon as possible. Follow recommended routes only and keep your radio on for current storm information.
After the Storm
-Check to be sure all family members are safe.
-Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible if you have experienced damage.
-Wear shoes around debris to avoid injuries. And when beginning the cleanup process, use protective gear such as eyewear or gloves.
-Dispose of any impaired items touched by floodwater such as food, drinks, and medicine.
-Check utilities. Turn them off if you suspect damage, and let the power company handle.
-Create a list of damaged property and if possible take photographs and/or video. Do not dispose of damaged items without prior approval from your insurance claims adjuster.
-Keep an accurate record of any temporary repairs or expenses so that they may be considered in your claim.
-If there was an evacuation, wait for official notice that it is safe to re-enter your home. When returning to your home, be cautious when entering a damaged structure. Stay away from damaged or weakened walls.
Published with permission from RISMedia.