Is Your Home Prepared For Hurricane Season?

Every year we talk with homeowners about being prepared for a hurricane.  To protect your home we offer up the following information to help you stay safe and hopefully avoid a homeowners insurance claim.

Things you can do right now to make it easier to prepare for a hurricane should your home be in the path of a bad storm:

-Clean rain gutters and keep them free of debris. You could create your own flood with clogged drains and gutters.
-Get Rid of Clutter.
-Pick up things around your yard that you are no longer using, such as empty plant pots, etc.
-Purchase storm shutters or 5/8-inch marine plywood and have it cut to fit and ready to install to help protect windows, glass doors and skylights in the event of a storm.
-Do you have a chain saw that works?  If you haven’t used your chain saw in a while, consider getting it serviced and have a gas can filled to accompany it

1) Trees around your home…consider removing trees if you notice these signs:

Two Main Trunks: If your tree has more than one major trunk holding it up, it is structurally unstable.
Leaning Tree: If the trunk of your tree is significantly leaning, it could mean it has damaged roots and could be easily     uprooted by strong winds.
Cavities And Signs Of Decay: If there are cavities and other signs of a decay on more than 40% of the surface of the tree, it might be unstable.
Longitudinal Cracks: Cracks that run the length of a tree can be a serious indicator that it needs to be removed.

2) Generators, gas, batteries and cash:

-Keep your vehicle gas tank above ½ full through the season.
-Keep 5, 10 or more gallons of gas as back up – gas stations will run out of gas in areas that are hit by a hurricane.
-Test run generators monthly with a load to insure proper working order.
-Consider the purchase of flood insurance, even if outside of a floodplain.
-Have cash on hand in small denominations for year-round preparedness.
-Maintain portable battery powered AM radio.
-Contact 2-1-1 to register if you need transportation assistance to evacuate

3) Exterior home tips:

-Board up your windows or close storm shutters.
-Trim the trees and shrubs around your home.
-Cleared loose and clogged downspouts and rain gutters.
-Tie down small or young trees to prevent uprooting.
-Your roof – inspect your shingles, tile or metal roof.  Is anything loose?  Hire a licensed roofing contractor to do an inspection and make repairs

4) Interior home tips:

-Perform an inventory of home contents (electronics, jewelry, appliances, clothing, etc.) and store in safe place.
-Take detailed photos(s)/videos(s) of home property and contents (internal and external) and store in safe place.
-Secure or remove all items outside your home (grill, hanging plants, potted plants, etc.).
-Store all important documents (insurance papers, etc) in a waterproof container and in a secure location.
-Prepare your evacuation kit with bottled water, first aid essentials (band aids, antiseptic cream, etc.), dry clothes, identification, battery flashlight, cash
-Turn off propane tanks.
-Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water for sanitary purposes (cleaning, flushing toilets, etc.)

Typically you will have time to prepare if your town will be in the path of hurricane strength winds and rain.  Before a storm hits we recommend the following:

-Move Belongings.
-Keep valuable items away from windows.
-Bring inside or secure lighter-weight outdoor items indoors, such as trash cans, patio furniture, plants and toys. Secure other objects that could be picked up by the wind.
-Shelter your car in a garage or public parking garage if you have access to one
-If you have to evacuate and plan to leave a vehicle behind, put it in the garage or on higher ground. Avoid parking it under a tree or on a low-lying street where it could be damaged by water.
-Make sure to properly store items such as boats or motorcycles, following the same general guidelines as with your car. If your boat will stay in the water, tie it down securely and remove the motor and any small objects.
-Unplug Electronics.
-To prevent damage from an electrical surge, unplug electronics and household appliances. Don’t rely on surge protectors to save them.
-Consider your evacuation route, tell family members or friends your route and always comply with mandatory evacuations.
-Pets/Livestock – waterproof animal identification options – write on side of your livestock your phone number with waterproof markers.
-Secure your fencing and gates if you have livestock or pets.
-If you are a “Snowbird” make sure your neighbors have updated contact information for you.
-Have propane filled for your gas grill – if you lose power you will need your grill to cook.
-Have sandbags for low lying areas on property, like near a pool.
-Secure firewood or other objects that could become “airborne.”
-If you have a swimming pool drain it down somewhat.
-Put Vaseline over door locks to protect them so water doesn’t damage your locks.