With the Atlantic hurricane season in full swing, it’s never too late to get prepared and stay prepared for damaging storms. This year it is important to consider how to prepare while also paying close attention to CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Be Informed and Plan Ahead
If there is any good news about hurricanes, it is that they allow plenty of time to prepare. Often these storms are traveling for hundreds of miles before reaching the shore. Staying on top of the weather by signing up for severe weather alerts and warnings will allow preparations to take place well in advance of any emergency situation.
In the event of an emergency, there are certain documents that are always going to need to be safe. Consider gathering all financial and medical records, insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, and court documents and keeping them in one place. It is recommended these items be kept in a water and fire retardant container. Having these items readily available to pack in case of evacuation or emergency will help in all disaster situations.
If located in a hurricane evacuation zone, research possible evacuation routes, and emergency shelters. Be sure to have an emergency communication plan. Reach out to an out-of-state friend or relative to check-in with and receive updates and information. During this year, be sure to follow CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19 if the plan includes sheltering with friends and family. If needed, research pet-friendly shelters and accommodations if evacuating far from home.
Gather and Check Supplies
Whether the plan is to shelter in place or evacuate, emergency supplies will need to be gathered and older supplies checked for operational use and expiration dates. Many of these supplies can be ordered online and delivered through a variety of home delivery services. For people less comfortable shopping in crowded stores, this is definitely an option to consider to limit exposure to COVID-19.
Common supplies include water, nonperishable food items, and propane. Often people fill their coolers with ice and prepare meals that can be heated on a grill with propane in the event of a loss of electricity. Research generators that can power major appliances.
Check your devices for working batteries and always have extra on hand. A battery-operated radio, fan, flashlights, and pre-charged power banks for cell phones will be a must on this supply list.
A well-stocked first-aid kit will be a number one priority. Include over-the-counter medications and any necessary prescriptions. Be sure to have refills, just in case evacuation is necessary. This year it is important to also include extra face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
Don’t forget the car. Complete a quick maintenance check that includes:
- Inspecting the tires for air pressure
- Checking the spare tire
- Looking over the windshield wipers
- Packing an emergency tool kit including jumper cables
- Filling up the tank with gas
Clear out space in the garage to safely stow your vehicle if not evacuating. Preparing the vehicle ahead of time for a possible emergency will make the process of packing and leaving so much easier.
Children and pets will have their own set of needs to plan for. A bag stocked with non-electronic activities will be a lifesaver. Games, books, and well-planned snacks can go a long way with keeping kids entertained without electricity or during a long car ride. Organize these items so they are easy to reach in the car and find ways to make ordinary activities into fun games. Have pet supplies ready in case a quick departure is needed. Food, toys, treats, and pet waste bags will need to be readily available.
Protect Your Home
Hurricane-force winds, rain, flooding, and possible tornadoes can wreak havoc on a home and personal belongings. As a homeowner, whenever it is time for home improvements, consider strengthening doors and windows by choosing wind-resistant products. Check the roof for loose shingles, clean and inspect gutters or any other loose fixture that can be ripped from the home.
All lightweight objects should be brought inside, this includes patio furniture, grills, propane tanks, potted plants, and pool equipment. Anchor heavy objects so they do not become weapons in the wind. Trim tree branches that can easily break and fall. Board windows so objects do not break through into the home.
It is especially important to understand home insurance, pay attention to the policy declarations page. This page details how much coverage there is in the plan, the deductibles, and how a claim would be paid. Sometimes insurance companies will partially reimburse the homeowner for wind mitigation. Adding features to the home like hurricane shutters or wind rated windows could qualify for a rate reduction.
Homeowners can double-check their coverage through their homeowner’s insurance provider or try shopping around for better coverage at SimplyIOA.com. Conceived by Insurance Office of America (IOA) co-founder John Ritenour and IOA Chairman and CEO Heath Ritenour, SimplyIOA is the first fully integrated online insurance quote comparison and buy platform in the United States for home and auto insurance.
A well-organized emergency plan can make a huge difference when experiencing a natural disaster. With the aforementioned preparation and planning, it is easier to handle emergency situations and survive the storm.