In terms of property damage, floods by way of hurricanes and tropical storms are the most common forms of natural disasters in the United States. Floods can occur via torrential rains, rising water from rivers or lakes, flash flooding, or large storms. A strong surge of water can wreak complete havoc on your home, which is why being prepared is crucial to protecting your safety and property. Before inclement weather heads your way, read on to discover some tips and tricks that will help you prepare your home before and after a hurricane or tropical storm strikes.
What to do before a hurricane strikes
The key to avoiding serious damage to your safety and property is to know what to do before disaster strikes. When you take the extra time and steps to prep your home for hurricane season, you should experience less damage, and you might even be able to avoid a serious calamity altogether.
Get your home ready
Whether it’s hurricane season or you simply live in a flood zone, it’s crucial to know how to prepare your house for a storm before it hits. To get your home ready, make sure that the roof, doors, and windows are in good condition. If you notice loose shingles or signs of worn-out weatherstripping, the sooner you can correct these issues, the better. Old or damaged roofs are much more prone to damage during a storm, so contact a local roofing company to have them perform an inspection as soon as possible. If you have a home with a basement, make sure your sump pump is in excellent working condition, too. A properly working sump pump will help to prevent excess flooding in the basement, which can result in serious structural damage. Make sure all windows and doors are straight and properly sealed to keep your home as weathertight as possible.
Create a home inventory
It’s important to create a thorough home inventory of your important belongings to keep on record for your insurance company. This inventory will help you get the proper amount of compensation from your insurance company should a storm affect your home. Whether it’s a hurricane, fire, or theft, having a complete inventory of all your personal belongings is an important step to proper disaster preparation. If you do end up dealing with a flood, try to take photographs of your home during the flooding if it’s safe to do so. The more you can document the property you own as well as any flood-related damage, the easier it will be when it’s time to file your claim. Keep the information from your home inventory somewhere safe like in secured cloud storage just in case.
Store important documents outside of the home
Crucial documents like birth certificates and passports are extremely difficult to replace if they become damaged. To prevent this from occurring, try to store your family’s most important documents in a separate place outside of your home. Many banks provide customers with safe-deposit boxes where you can keep these items secured under lock and key. Look into different ways and places you can store documents so that if your home floods, your paperwork stays safe and dry.
Create a storm kit checklist
Part of preparing for storm and hurricane season should involve drafting a storm kit checklist. This list should include everything you need to get through a storm as well as things everyone should do in the event that a hurricane or tropical storm heads your way. Think about the things you need to do in advance, such as where you’ll keep items like prescription medications and pet care items. Discuss your checklist with the family so that everyone agrees with and understands the plan. Your checklist should include home maintenance tasks in addition to personal safety tasks. This will ensure that you’re ready and able to deal with any storm and try to minimize damage to your property as much as possible.
Prepare an emergency bag
Flooding and other natural disasters can be fatal, so there may be times when you’ll need to evacuate your home. In order to be better prepped for these disasters, make an emergency bag you can take with you as quickly as possible. Your bag should include things like several changes of clothes for the entire family, prescription medicines, and snacks. A first aid kit and a few small toys and games for the kids are also recommended. If you have pets, don’t forget to make a separate emergency bag for them, too. Your pet bag should be filled with food, treats, portable bowls, and bedding as well as any medications they may need.
Make an evacuation plan
If your local jurisdiction decides you need to evacuate, you’ll need to know where to go in an instant. To make the evacuation process easier, come up with a well thought out plan in advance. Decide which routes you’ll take to exit your city or town and try to choose a route that will have the least volume of traffic whenever possible. If a storm is approaching and has a few days to arrive, fill your gas tank up before you need to evacuate to avoid long lines at the pump. Sit down with your family and come up with a place you can all meet in case you get separated. A specific hotel or other location outside of the storm’s path is the best option.
Do’s and don’ts during a storm
Part of good home preparedness is knowing what to do during the storm or hurricane. In order to keep yourself, your family, and your home as safe as possible, there are some crucial do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
- Stay as calm as possible and listen to your local weather station and the local authorities for the latest updates.
- Keep a flashlight and plenty of batteries handy in case of a power outage.
- Make sure your water supply is ample by storing plenty of fresh, clean water in water jugs, ensuring you’ll have drinking water for at least a few days. According to the CDC, it is advisable to keep at least five gallons of water per person on hand for emergency preparedness.
- Have non-perishable foods on-hand as well as snacks in case you cannot use your oven or microwave.
- Remove anything from your yard that could blow away and cause damage to your home or to other homes in the neighborhood. Secure them safely in a garage or shed.
- Never burn candles as a light source unless it’s last resort. A candle that gets knocked over can result in a house fire.
- Try to leave your home in the middle of a serious storm. If you did not evacuate early, find the safest part of your home and wait until the storm passes.
- Go outside during a storm, as you may be hit by blowing debris, lighting, or you could be swept away by floodwaters.
- Take a shower while a storm is in progress, as you could be at risk for an electric shock as the current is carried through your plumbing from lightning.
What to do after a storm
Part of how to prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm is what to do after the storm has passed. Once it’s safe, you’ll need to perform a thorough evaluation of your home to look for any signs of leaking, flooding, or structural damage. Take clear photographs of any damage you see as soon as possible. If your roof is damaged or your home is flooded, you’ll need to find a safe, dry place to stay until your home can be repaired. Cover any windows that are broken so that rainwater and pests can’t come inside.
In order to move forward after a hurricane or storm, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. Let them know exactly what happened and what kind of water damage you see. Many homeowner’s policies will cover the cost of hotel stays and food for as long as it takes to get your home repaired. The insurance company will schedule a time to send an adjuster to your home so you can get estimates for necessary repairs. Most of us understand the implications that extreme weather has on our property, but if it has also affected your personal safety or you have sustained injuries as a result of extreme weather and negligence, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer to see how they could help.
Make a repair list and keep notes of anything that will need to be fixed. The sooner you spot any hurricane-related damage, the better the chances are that your insurance company will cover it. Your repair list should also include any damaged personal belongings. Your policy should cover the contents of your home and give you the replacement cost so you can buy new items once the home is safe to live in again. If you have a shed or other separate structure on your property, don’t forget to check on its condition as well. When you know how to prepare for a flood or other storm, you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way and move on with confidence.