July 16, 2019

Weathering the Storm: Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane season is here and while no one can stop a tropical storm or hurricane from happening, you can take steps to ensure the safety of your family. The potential threats include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges and flooding. Knowing what to expect in the event of a major storm is one of the smartest things you can do, especially if you live in an area prone to hurricanes and flooding.

Review your Insurance

It is important to understand exactly what your homeowners insurance covers so that you can adequately repair your home after a natural disaster like a hurricane. A good place to start is this hurricane season insurance checklist. Be sure to check if your policy covers flood damage and if it doesn't, consider looking into flood insurance. This applies to renters as well. Flooding is not generally covered by renters insurance, so if you rent in an area at risk of flooding, consider a separate flood insurance policy in addition to your current renters insurance. Contact a trusted insurance professional if you have questions about your current policy so that you aren't faced with any surprises during the recovery process.

Additionally, you should take inventory of your property annually and ensure that you have enough insurance to replace personal possessions. Should you need to evacuate, bring your home inventory list with all other important documents to fast track your recovery. It will speed up your claims process and will help in applying for disaster aid.

Prepare Now

  • The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
  • The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30.

Secure your Home

If you are facing an impending storm, there are immediate precautions you can take to protect your home and your family.

  • Remove debris: Given the strong winds associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, be sure to clear the lawn, bring transferrable possessions indoors and secure objects that can't be brought inside.
  • Cover windows: Permanent storm shutters offer protection, or you can board up windows with plywood.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit: This should include water, flashlights, food, first–aid supplies and medication.
  • Check your utilities: Be sure to shut off gas, water and electricity.
  • Follow the news: Be sure to follow the latest weather updates and emergency instructions so you're prepared to evacuate if needed.

If you are not in immediate danger, there are ways that you can secure your home in advance to protect against the dangers of flooding and hurricane force winds. If you live in an area regularly affected by these types of natural disasters, consider:

  • Cleaning gutters and drains: Regular maintenance prevents water from collecting around your home. Addressing water flow is especially important in severe storms to prevent further flooding damage.
  • Testing sump pump: A malfunction can cause flooding, so be sure to regularly check and remove any debris to prevent clogging.
  • Checking foundation and roof: Cracks in the foundation of a home could worsen flooding or plumbing issues. Regularly inspect your roof covering to make sure shingles are secured and none are missing.
  • Maintaining yard: Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed.
  • Installing surge protection: Power surges can damage your appliances and electronics. Adding surge protection to your home, heating and air conditioning system can decrease the risk.

Finally, make sure you have an evacuation plan. This should include a communication plan for your family, consider any extra precautions for children, seniors and pets, and be sure that you have all important documents you will need for recovery after the storm.

For more resources and information visit, FEMA.gov or MyHome by Freddie Mac®.