No one can control or predict a serious storm, but with proactive preparation, you can help yourself stay safe and help protect yourself during and after a hurricane.
If you are a homeowner preparing for a major wind storm or hurricane, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has released important new guidance on reducing the intense pressure that wind can have on your roof.
The roof is the first line of defense in a storm, and while it can get battered with wet weather and debris, it also has to endure internal pressure from wind that enters a home. In addition to closing windows and exterior doors, close all interior doors in your home when preparing for a storm. This can help compartmentalize wind pressure and reduce its impact.
Hurricane season lasts from June to November for the Atlantic, and peak season is from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins in May and runs until the end of November. Although the thought may be hurricanes are coastal storms, the threat isn’t limited to the coastline. More areas of the country are susceptible than you think. In addition to all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, the Southwest and the Adirondacks areas in the East can experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes.
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines – as well as hundreds of miles inland. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions can produce especially heavy rain, often resulting in flooding. Even if you do not live on a coastline, keep an eye on approaching storms, and have your supplies and family plan ready, as you may be impacted.
To start, prepare an emergency kit (with necessary supplies, food and medicine) and make a communication plan. Identify your area’s evacuation routes to determine where your family will meet, and how everyone would get there should you need to evacuate.
Keep trees and shrubs around your home well-trimmed to make them more wind resistant, and make sure rain gutters and downspouts are clear. Bring in any outdoor furniture, decorations, etc. along with anything else that’s not secured.
To prevent damage to your windows, and ultimately the interior of your home, cover all windows. While permanent storm shutters offer the best protection, a second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood. You can get it cut to fit and ready to install before the storm season. Note that taping a window will not prevent it from breaking.
As an added protective measure, install – or have a professional install – straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame of your home. The main objective after your family’s safety is to keep wind from entering the structure; if storm-driven wind enters a structure it can cause extensive damage.
If a hurricane is approaching your area, here are some ways you can help prepare:
Under the following conditions you should evacuate:
During the storm, stay indoors, away from any windows and glass doors. Close all interior doors to compartmentalize any wind that may get in, and lock all external doors. During the height of the storm seek shelter in an interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level of your home.
Inspect your home, and take pictures of any damage that occurred. If you are concerned about safety, have a qualified building inspector or structural engineer inspect your residence before entering. Stay out of any dwelling if you smell gas, floodwater remains or your home was damaged by fire and authorities have declared it unsafe.
Should you become separated from family members, utilize your family communication plan or contact the American Red Cross a 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or safeandwell.org. Contact the American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information.
If you are evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe. If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example SHELTER12345). For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing.
A key to hurricane safety is to be prepared and ready to act when alerted by emergency officials. An additional way to prepare for a hurricane is to have flood insurance. Flood insurance should be considered by anyone who may be at risk. It can be your best defense.
Get prepared. Your Farmers® agent will help answer your questions and discuss insurance coverage options.
This information is provided by the Institute for Business & Home Safety. The Institute for Business & Home Safety’s mission is to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.
The information and suggestions presented range from simple weekend tasks to involved projects that may require professional assistance. Before starting on any activity, make sure you are comfortable with the required skill level. If you are uncertain, contact a professional. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a wildfire or other natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
You may think you know what to do in a disaster, but are you prepared? Here are nine manageable steps to help you get ready before the next extreme storm.