Anyone who has witnessed a hurricane or other natural disaster knows first-hand how unprepared most people are in the event of a catastrophe. Stores are typically bare of all essentials within moments of a storm being forecast, as last-minute shoppers try to brace for the possibility of disaster. Rid yourself of the headache of frantically preparing right before the next storm by following these tips:
Prepare Your Family for Anything
Keep a list of local maps, community shelters, and evacuation routes, and have a pre-determined evacuation plan discussed with your household. Be sure to keep your identification and insurance cards with you always. Make a photocopy or take a picture of your property insurance declarations page and keep it with you as you prepare for and weather the storm. Create a list of family and emergency contacts and have a common meeting place in case someone in your group is separated during the evacuation process. Prepare your vehicle for an evacuation and park on high ground in or near a secure building, if possible.
If you are unable to evacuate, stay in contact with your neighbors and always be aware of local news updates and warnings. Create a “safe room” for your family that is enclosed and centrally located on the first floor of your home. Your designated room should be away from any windows.
Turn off electricity at the main breaker and unplug or turn off major appliances (TV, Microwave, etc.) if flooding threatens your home.
Hurricane Supplies Checklist
It’s never too early to plan for hurricane season. Always keep emergency supplies on hand that will last your household for at least three days. These items will also be invaluable in the event of an evacuation.
- At least 5 gallons of purified water per person
- Water containers
- Water purification tablets
- Nonperishable, ready-to-eat food (including baby food or formula if needed). Be sure to plan for those who have special dietary restrictions, i.e. someone with diabetes or food allergies.
- Plates, utensils & paper towels
- Can opener
- Garbage bags & ties
- Soap & hand sanitizing wipes
- Toothbrush, toothpaste & toilet paper
- Feminine products
- Diapers & baby wipes
- Change of clothes
Basic First Aid & Health Items
- Antibacterial wipes
- Antibiotic cream
- Digital thermometer
- Insect repellent & sunscreen
- Medication (2-week supply stored in waterproof containers)
- Over-the-counter medication including fever & pain relievers, diuretics, antihistamines & antidiarrheal medication.
- Prescription medications
- Non-latex gloves
- Tweezers & Scissors
- Waterproof bandages & gauze
Health-Specific Medical Items
- Blood sugar monitors & blood test strips
- Canes, crutches, walkers & wheelchairs
- Hearing aids & picture boards
- Medical alert identification bracelet/necklace
- Nasal cannulas
- Oxygen equipment
- Prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses & solution
Safety Items / Power Outage Supplies
- Thermos/cooler & chemical ice packs
- Camp stove & matches
- Flashlights & batteries
- Battery-powered radio
- Cell phone charger & external batteries
- Fire Extinguisher
- Blankets/sleeping bags & pillows
Hurricane Home Preparation
Have a Back-up Generator – If your home is exposed to high levels of humidity due to no air conditioning after a power outage, having an emergency backup generator can be crucial for preserving home furnishings, wood, clothing, and more. Test your generator regularly to ensure it’s working properly, and be sure you have an adequate fuel & oil supply.
Secure Fireplace Dampers and Flues – Be sure all fireplace dampers and flues are closed before a storm to minimize water, soot, and other debris intrusion. Move all valuable rugs and furniture away from the area, or cover the fireplace opening with stretch wrap, blankets, or towels.
Protect Household Furnishings and Personal Possessions – Place all personal possessions in the center of your home. Move all furnishings away from windows and doors, elevating and covering items with plastic if possible. Place towels in front of door openings to hinder water intrusion.
Protect Personal Documents – Store the following personal documents in a bank safe deposit box, offsite storage area, or waterproof container if possible:
- Personal items – photos and mementos
- ID cards – social security card, driver’s license, passport, etc.
- Vital records-birth and death certificates, adoption records, etc.
- Health documents – insurance cards, medical records & immunization records
- Financial – bank records and account numbers, stock and bond certificates, tax documents, etc.
- Insurance – home, vehicle, life, health, and all other policy documents accompanied by images, video, and inventory of insured items.
- Legal – living wills, power of attorney, child custody, marriage or divorce records, deeds, titles, military records, etc.
Properly Insure Your Valuables
Understand Your Insurance Coverage – To be certain your property and valuables are adequately covered in the event of a loss, extensively review your policies with your insurance broker. Make sure you are aware of the deductibles, special provisions, and exclusions that apply to your policies, as well as your responsibilities as a policyholder. Potts Law Firm will be happy to review your property insurance policy with you.
Insurance Valuations – Maintain appraisals for all your insured items and update them every three to five years. This will guarantee your items are properly insured and it can also aid in the insurance claims process in the event of damage or loss.
Inventory of Valuables – Keep a detailed list of all insured items. You can create a simple spreadsheet or, for the tech-savvy, try using a top-rated home inventory app.
Hurricane Yard Preparation
All too often we hear tragic stories of someone losing their life during a hurricane as the result of a tree collapse or other dangerous debris. Even Category 1 storms like Hurricane Florence can cause major damage due to high winds and rain. To help protect you and your property, minimize debris and other potential intrusions by preparing your yard in advance:
Tree Pruning – Remove any shrubbery or weakened tree limbs to help prevent falling debris from landing on your home or other property.
Yard Furnishings – Remove all patio furniture, wind chimes, or other decorative yard items to prevent flying debris during high winds. Store items in a garage, inside your home, or even in the swimming pool until the storm has passed.
Landscaping – Remove rock and other hard landscaping material and replace it with shredded bark, rubber mulch, or other soft materials.
Window Protection – Replace traditional windows with impact-resistant storm windows and cover windows with storm shutters or plywood.
Gutter Cleaning – Clear gutters of any debris or blockage before a storm. This will ensure your drains work as they are intended; allowing water to flow freely away from your home.
Hurricane Vehicle Preparation
When preparing for a hurricane, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is equipped to endure a long trip in the event of an evacuation. Use the below list to make sure you’re prepared for whatever the next storm brings:
Maintenance – Have your vehicle fully inspected and make sure it’s up-to-date on an oil change and all other maintenance. Be sure your car has fully functional windshield wipers, and have your tires aired, inspected, replaced, or rotated if necessary.
Fuel – ALWAYS have a full tank of gas if possible. Fuel shortages are common during a natural disaster.
Survival Kit – Pack nonperishable foods, bottled water, sleeping bags, personal items, GPS, road and shelter maps, DC to AC power inverter, and cell phone chargers.
Purchase or assemble a roadside emergency kit to include a tire inflator, jumper cables, flares, tire pressure gauge, first aid kit, rain ponchos, fire extinguisher, flashlight, and batteries. Make sure you also have a working jack and spare tire.