For many people, the end of May signals the end of school and the start of summer. While it may mean pool parties and cookouts, it also means that Hurricane Season is here. The biggest tool you have in a fight against a hurricane is being prepared.
Here are a few steps to help you prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster.
- Have an Emergency Plan. Gather important documents, phone numbers, addresses, and other relevant information to keep them in a portable, safe, and dry place. Inventory the items in your home. Determine if you are in an evacuation zone and plan an exit route from your home and neighborhood, including areas to avoid. Collect any medication or unique care items for the older adults, children, and pets in your home. Secure contingent housing options away from the disaster in the event you need to evacuate.
- Stock Up on Emergency Supplies. Everyone’s first thought is to stock up on non-perishable food and water. Sustenance is essential but don’t forget to have clothes, blankets, and some basic necessities. A battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, and solar-powered phone chargers are important resources if the power goes out. You may want to consider purchasing a generator and extra fuel if you anticipate extended periods without power. Fill clean containers with water for drinking, and fill bathtubs and sinks for washing. Get cash to pay for goods while power is still being restored.
- Get Your Property Ready. Protect windows with storm shutters or plywood, but don’t stop there. Remove outside items that could blow away in a storm and damage your home. If flooding is a concern, move essential items away from floor level to higher levels on a shelf or upstairs in a 2-story house. Check with your Hotchkiss Insurance Representative to ensure you have the right coverage to repair any impending damage. If you leave, make sure your home is secured by locking all windows and doors.
- Turn Off the Power. Water and electricity are a deadly combination. If your home is in danger of flooding, you may want to flip the main electricity breaker to turn off power in your home. If flooding is not a concern, if the power goes out, you might consider unplugging your electronic devices to reduce the risk of a power surge once power is restored. Do not approach a downed power line. Call the utility company and/or police immediately if you see a downed line.
- Listen to Authorities, Follow Designated Evacuation Routes. You may think you know a better route, but the authorities know which roads are flooded, blocked, or otherwise impassable. Do NOT drive into flooded areas. Flash floods can happen in low-lying areas, and as little as six inches of moving water can cause a vehicle to be swept away. Turn around, don’t drown.
- If You Stay Home, Be Alert. Stay tuned to local radio and TV stations for updates. Wait for the ‘All Clear’ from local authorities before leaving your home after a hurricane. Be mindful of damaged trees, utility poles, and other hazards from above that may no longer be secure. If your home is damaged, be prepared to relocate to alternate lodging options. Avoid wading into flood waters, as they may contain hazards such as wildlife, waste, and other chemicals and pathogens. When safe, check on your neighbors after the storm. Above all, if you need help, call your local police, fire, and health organizations.
- Keep Any Receipts related to Storm Evacuation and Storm Damage Repair. This can include temporary lodging, food, and temporary repairs in the event your home is damaged and uninhabitable. Depending on your property insurance coverage, these expenses may be eligible for reimbursement and/or may be tax-deductible.
- Stay Calm. You’ve made a plan, so stick to it and be ready for the unexpected. As the saying goes, “Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.”