Create an Evacuation Plan
Kathy Phillips, a Senior Underwriter at USAA, recommends creating a family evacuation plan that includes figuring out more than one escape route to your destination and calling ahead to shelters to make sure they can take your entire family, including pets. Map out your primary routes and backup routes to your evacuation destinations in case roads are blocked or impassable. Try to have a physical map of the area available in case GPS satellite transmissions are down or your devices run out of power. Make sure you have a plan of items you will take in case of an evacuation including important documents.
Have an Emergency Kit
According to Phillips, your kit should include enough water for three days (one gallon per person per day), three days’ worth of non-perishable food items, necessary medications, important documents and paperwork, a regular first aid kit, flashlight, radio and batteries. Depending on your family’s requirements, you may need to include: medical-care items, baby supplies, pet supplies and other things, such as extra car and house keys. You can find a downloadable list HERE for what your emergency kit should include.
Remove/Secure any Debris
If anticipating a hurricane or strong winds, you should remove or secure anything surrounding your home that could become an airborne projectile. That includes lawn furniture, toys and low-hanging branches or limbs. You should always try to trim branches and extra foliage before hurricane season comes. After a storm has been named, it could be dangerous for your neighbors and yourself to trim branches and foliage. Mass cutting places a tremendous burden on the collection and disposal processes and there is not enough equipment or manpower to handle the additional material before the storm makes landfall.
Clean Gutters and Storm Drains
Gutters allow rainwater to keep from collecting on the roof, along the side of the house and at the home’s foundation. They’re designed to direct the water away, but when they’re clogged by leaves and other debris, the water can’t run through them. If your gutters are clogged, they can’t do their job of keeping water off your roof. When this happens, you can wind up with damage to your shingles, fascia, or even structural problems. Storm water drainage systems need to be cleaned regularly. Clogged drains can cause an overflow of water, leading to increased erosion and dangerous driving conditions. Areas with relatively flat grades or low water flow often require special attention as they rarely achieve high enough water flows to flush themselves.
Seal Windows and Doors
Check the seals around your windows and doors. Normal weather — especially in hot climates — can damage seals over time, allowing sideways-blowing rain to get in during a storm. Consider investing in one of the many hurricane window protection options available. Hurricane fabric, shutters, screens, and panel systems are the next-most-desirable option after impact-resistant systems In a pinch, if your windows haven’t been properly prepared for a hurricane, boarding-up your windows with plywood is your best option. Check all doors, including solid wood exterior doors, for loose or missing screws. Strong winds can buckle any door that’s not properly protected and secured.
Review your Insurance Policies
A hurricane deductible is applied only to hurricanes, whereas a windstorm deductible applies to any type of wind. If your policy has a hurricane deductible, it will clearly state the specific “trigger” that would cause the deductible to go into effect.Unlike the standard “dollar deductible” on a homeowners policy, a hurricane or windstorm deductible is usually expressed as a percentage, generally from 1 to 5 percent of the insured value of the structure of your home.If you live in an area at high risk for hurricanes, your hurricane deductible may be a higher percentage.One common exclusion is flooding. People tend to underestimate this risk, but 90 percent of all natural disasters—especially hurricanes—include some form of flooding.