By Eileen Sullivan • May 24, 2018

Hurricane Preparation Tips: Pre-season and Last Minute Lists

Hurricane season is already upon us. Although the most severe storms don’t typically hit until later in the season, there are many preparations homeowners can make ahead of time to lessen the impact of the storm.

Pre-season Hurricane Preparation:

Keep up with tree trimming – heavy limbs can be pushed to their breaking point with strong winds. Avoid tree limbs snapping and falling on a house by keeping up with regular maintenance.

Stock up on tools, supplies and non-perishable food – Avoid fighting the crowds and out of stock aisles when the storm is coming. These include: bottled water, canned food, manual can opener, flashlights, batteries, candles, portable back-up phone chargers, cooler(s) to keep refrigerator food, over the counter medicines, first-aid kit, a generator if you require one, a whistle to signal for help, pet food, important family documents and insurance policies stored in a safe place.

Know your evacuation route – Don’t wait until the storm is ready to make landfall before figuring out where you can evacuate to and what route to take. Sometimes routes are set by the city. Have a set destination planned, and a backup destination just in case.

Review your homeowners insurance policy – Take a look at your insurance policy each year to see if it would cover the full cost of rebuilding. Building costs are always rising. That means coverage on the current value of the home might not be enough to rebuild.

Get flood insuranceHurricanes can cause damage from wind or from flooding. Wind may be covered by your homeowners policy but flood is not. With storms becoming more severe, flooding occurs much more frequently outside the flood plain. Flood damage can be much costlier than wind damage, so don’t get caught without it.

Document belongings – Take photos of each room in the house and of large ticket items, such as furniture, expensive collections, musical instruments, jewelry, electronics and anything else that is valuable. Take note of the condition of the item prior to storm damage. This will make filing an insurance claim much simpler and smoother.

Roof inspection – A yearly inspection will ensure you aren’t missing any shingles or have weak spots in the roof

Check seals around the home – If the seals on the windows and doors need reinforcing, make sure to get it done before a storm hits. This can mitigate damage that would be done by wind and rain.

Reinforce your garage door – Strengthen your garage door and prevent it being blown in with a vertical garage door brace or other type of reinforcing beams.

Determine the safest place – Determine where the most secure place in the house is to take cover for when the storm is at its most severe. This should be a room on the first floor with few or no windows if there are high winds.

When a hurricane watch or warning has been issued: 

Pack a bag just in case – Pack a bag even if you don’t think you will evacuate. The status of a hurricane can change quickly. If an evacuation notice is issued, you can avoid scrambling to leave and avoid traffic by being one of the first to get out.

Perishable food and last-minute supplies – Stock up on snack food and easy-to-prepare food that doesn’t require electricity, ice for coolers, more bottled water and jugs of water if needed. Have enough food for all family members and pets for at least 5 days.

Put away outside objects - Take down and put away anything the can fly away or become a projectile, such as lawn furniture, umbrellas, porch decorations, lawn signs or flags, small, light-weight plants and hanging plants. Store these items in a garage, storage shed or even inside your house, or secure bigger items in place.

Fill up on gas - Keep your tanks full through hurricane season and top up as soon as a storm is announced. Although it may be days before the storm actually hits, if the area is required to evacuate, the gas stations will run out.  At the very least, you’ll experience long lines.

Protect windows - Use duct tape, plywood boards or storm shutters to reinforce windows and prevent breaking/shattering.

Important Documents – If evacuating, bring your important documents with you, including identification, insurance policies etc.

Watch the news – Pay attention to the status of the storm.

To evacuate or not? – Even if a mandatory evacuation has not been issued, it might make sense for your family to evacuate. For those that plan to, leave your home with plenty of time to get out of town before the storm hits. Don’t wait until the last minute to decide.

Share this list with your homeowner clients to help them get ready for hurricane season before the storms start to hit.

For additional resources on hurricane preparation visit the National Hurricane Center and the Red Cross.

Learn more about preparing your agency for an emergency in a related article Emergency Response Plans for Small Businesses.