Living close to the ocean is usually a wonderful thing. The views are breathtaking and recreation opportunities are never far away. But there’s a danger associated with coastal living: hurricanes.
And, if you’re living in or near a coastal state, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe from the effects of a hurricane. They’ve been known to jump from ocean to land and wreak almost as much damage.
Statistics show that 97% of hurricanes in the Atlantic occur between June 1 and Oct. 15. This is according to researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In the Pacific, that date range runs from May 15 to Nov. 30. Like it or not, hurricane season is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare ourselves.
There’s nothing you can do to stop them from coming, but you can take steps to minimize the damage in situations like this. There are two big factors that influence survival and property damage: planning and swift action on the advice of emergency personnel. If you live in an area affected by hurricanes or similar natural events, the worst thing you can do is not prepare for them.
Here are four ways to prepare yourself for hurricane season. Keep safe with strategies like these!
1.) Plan your evacuation
The most important things you can protect during any disaster are yourself and your family. The best way to do that is to get to higher ground, away from the dangers of wind and water. Having a plan for your evacuation helps you do just that.
Your plan should include where you’ll go, how you’ll get there and where you’ll stay once you’re there. Expect hotels and other shelters to reach capacity in a hurry, so try to find friends or family you can stay with. Have at least two routes planned in case one becomes blocked due to traffic or weather.
Don’t forget your furry friends. Many shelters will house dogs and cats in an emergency. If you can’t take them with you, have a plan for where they’ll stay until the weather returns to normal.
2.) Stock your shelter
If you don’t live in an evacuation zone or have facilities in your house to weather the storm, make sure you have adequate supplies in case power, water and other essential services are cut off for extended periods of time. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a list of supplies that should be included in your disaster preparedness kit. Topping the list are clear essentials: one gallon of water per person for three days, three days (nine meals) of non-perishable food, a flashlight and a first-aid kit.
One item that may escape notice is a crank-powered or battery-operated radio. Look for a weather-band radio that includes a cellphone charging port. This can help keep you connected in the event of an extended power outage.
Being financially prepared is important, too. If power or communication services are out, your debit and credit cards may not work. Have enough cash around to pay for a hotel stay or a week of groceries. Just ensure that cash is in a secure location where it can’t be easily lost or stolen.
3.) Prepare your home
There are several steps you can take around the house to minimize hurricane damage. Remove dead or dying limbs from trees on your property. Reinforce gutters and downspouts to minimize the threat of water damage.
Also consider reinforcing the windows and doors, including the garage door. Installing shutters or tracking hardware to facilitate the addition of reinforcements can not only provide you with peace of mind, they can add to the resale value of your home.
4.) Check your documents
In emergency situations, the last thing you want to be worried about is whether your insurance will cover damages. Review these documents with your agent at least once a year to make sure you have the coverage you need. Also, make sure you keep an itemized list of valuables in your home. Take pictures wherever possible.
While you’re securing documents, be sure to get copies of all your important identifying information. It may be smart to keep originals of documents, such as your Social Security card, birth certificate, the deed to your house and hard copies of your insurance policies in a secure location, like a safe deposit box. Trying to get duplicates of these in the aftermath of a storm can be challenging.
No one can do anything about the weather. All we can control is our response to it. Make sure you and your family are prepared for the worst, and weather the storm in safety!
Your Turn: Are you a storm survivor? What tips did you use to keep yourself safe? What do you wish you had done differently? Share your wisdom in the comments!