Expect the Best, but Prepare for the Worst!
Are you ready if a hurricane should hit your home or business?
NOAA Says . . . Above-Normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is Most Likely this Year
Ok. There it is. They said it. Does it faze you? If you live in Florida, or most other areas of the Eastern United States, it should. What are you going to do about it?
Although we know hurricanes and other severe weather can happen at just about any time, officially, the Atlantic Hurricane Season lasts from June to November with the peak season from mid-August to late October. At this point, we’re starting to see a few little rain showers here and there, we sure could use more rain, but in a few months, we’ll be in the height of the season with several months before we’re pretty much in the clear as far as hurricanes go.
Winds from hurricanes and storms are always a concern but in our area, we also have to be very aware and prepared for storm surge and general flooding that can occur nearly every day during the summer months.
What are we going to do about it? Let’s prepare, just in case. Here are my 10 quick tips of what you can do to prepare for a hurricane or severe storm before one strikes.
#1 First and foremost, you need to develop a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when a storm strikes, so plan how you will contact one another. Think about how you will communicate in different everyday situations and figure out what you will do if there’s no cell service.
#2 Put together an emergency kit of essential supplies including nonperishable food, bottled water, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, small tools and utensils, prescription medication, pet supplies, etc. Also, think about having a small amount of cash on hand should ATMs be out of service or if you can’t get to one. Store your emergency supplies in a waterproof container inside of your home as opposed to exterior buildings like sheds, just in case you can’t get out to the shed.
#3 Learn your flood zone and evacuation routes should you need to leave your home or can’t get to your home from where you are. You can also include this information in your emergency kit.
#4 Plan how you will secure your property for severe weather including outdoor furniture, play equipment, garden decorations, trash cans, boats and such. Will you need plywood, nails, duct tape to protect windows and doors? Where will you put the items from around the house? Is there room in the garage?
#5 Keep your property hurricane ready by keeping trees and shrubs well-trimmed, maintaining rain gutters, downspouts and roofs, and keeping unsecured items around the exterior of the house to a minimum.
#6 Consider purchasing a generator and learn how to operate it before you need it. By the way, you can thank my husband and me for there not being any hurricanes around here for a while. We finally made the investment to get our generator after the 4 storm year in 2004 and the only time it’s been used since then is to start it once a year to make sure it’s still operational.
#7 Make sure your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy information is current and that you understand what your insurance covers, what your deductibles are and the claims process, who do you call to file a claim. Make sure your property and its contents are properly insured for replacement value. You may think you have replacement value insurance, but don’t make the mistake of assuming you do and find out that you don’t when it’s too late and you don’t get enough from your claim to replace what you’ve lost.
#8 Scan and store copies of all your important documents such as insurance policies, bank records, health records, driver licenses, social security cards, passports, car titles, list of emergency contacts, etc. Use a cloud-based system to store your important document scans and make sure more than one family member, friend or trusted financial advisor has access to that system. I also think it’s a good idea to put together a document box that is fireproof and waterproof containing copies of those important documents and store it in a safe place inside of your home, just in case you’re not able to access the internet. You can also keep a paper copy and/or copy on a USB in a safe deposit box at the bank.
#9 Prepare a home inventory now. It is very important that you document all the contents of your home with photographs, serial numbers, receipts and descriptions. And when I say home, this goes for apartments too, whether you rent or own. If you have to file a claim for a loss, you’ll be asked to list every item that you lost, down to the number of forks in the kitchen drawer, the items in your dresser and the towels in the linen closet. A complete, up to date home inventory will ensure that you get the maximum benefit of your insurance coverage that you are paying for every month, by being able to accurately file your claim for everything that was lost with their values. We always ask a new client to try to imagine what it would be like to come home and everything you’ve worked so hard to accumulate over the years was gone. With the trauma you’ll be experiencing from the loss, your insurance company now wants you to try to remember everything you had and make a list of all your lost possessions. Do you think you could remember everything? Do you think it would be easy to make a list of everything that was now gone? There are benefits of hiring a professional to do your home inventory, but even if you do it yourself, just do it. Please.
#10 My final tip is to visit the Ready.gov website for Hurricane Preparedness (https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes), read Hurricane Guides provided by local agencies and media outlets, attend local Hurricane Preparedness events and learn all you can on how to be Hurricane-Ready.
The process of being prepared for a hurricane or any disaster that could occur to your home will take you some time and effort to get your emergency kit and other preparations done. We have to take the time to be proactive when it comes to protecting our family’s life and possessions. Since I started my business in 2014, I have come across many people who have experienced losses due to weather disasters, fires and theft and they all say the same thing, I wish I had been prepared.
We have been real lucky in our area the past few years avoiding hurricanes but there have been some storms here and elsewhere that remind us that we can be hit with severe weather at any time. And for those of us that have lived in Florida our whole lives, we know that the damage to lives and property from a storm can be substantial. We know we need to be prepared and we all just need to make sure we are.
If you’re interested in knowing about upcoming local hurricane preparedness events, let me know. I’ll be attending 3 in Tampa in early June they I know will be informative. Also, if you’d like to check out the cloud-based home management system I use, comment below and I’ll send you a link. You can get your inventory started for free in this system and through May 31st, they’re offering my followers a 25% discount off the entire system first-year subscription.