Sometimes Mother Nature has a way of reminding us who’s in charge. You can’t control when or where a hurricane will hit but the best way to minimize potential damage is to be prepared.
When a major storm is coming, stay informed by following NOAA Weather radio or your local news channels for updates. We also like to recommend Mike’s Weather Page. In addition, make sure to obey all orders if requested to evacuate by the authorities.
Follow these 11 steps to keep your home, loved ones (and pets!) safe before a natural disaster strikes:
- Make a plan
If evacuation is necessary, turn off all utilities and follow community disaster preparedness plans. Select a common meeting place or single point-of-contact for all family members. If you have pets, have a plan for their evacuation as well. Don’t forget any medications and necessary supplies.
- Secure the exterior
Trim large trees and shrubs and bring all outside patio furniture, potted plants, bikes and toys indoors. If necessary, secure outdoor sculptures with burlap or blankets tied with rope.
- Install storm shutters
Protect windows, doors and skylights with appropriate shutters or impact-resistant glass. You can nail pieces of plywood to window frames as last-minute protection.
- Check wall hangings and art
Make sure wall hangings are secure and take notes about your art collection and any existing damage. Make sure that art hung on outside walls are taken inside, and elevated off the floor.
- Move your cars
Move cars to higher ground or park them in your garage against the garage doors. Do not park under trees, power lines or in low-lying areas.
- Power up
Fill your car’s gas tank, charge your cell phone, test your generator and have plenty of fuel ready in case of power outages.
- Unplug appliances
Move appliances and household fixtures away from exterior doors and window openings. Store them in cabinets or interior closets.
- Store important documents
Keep important documents, such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers and insurance policy information, as well as valuables such as jewelry, in a safety deposit box or in a bolted safe in an interior closet in your home. If you need to contact your company to file a claim, you can find contact information here.
- Prep an emergency kit
Gather flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing and toiletries.
- Identify a shelter room
This enclosed area should be on the first floor, in the central part of the house with no windows. Avoid all unprotected windows and doors until the storm passes.
Walk room-to-room in your house and take a video of everything–even the inside of closets and drawers. In the event of a claim, it will be helpful to have an inclusive inventory and 90% of consumers tend to under-estimate their contents coverage according to the Insurance Information Institute.