Get Ready for Hurricane Season – Be Prepared and Stay Safe
Hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm. Hurricanes form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. All of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal regions are susceptible to hurricanes.
Hurricanes are capable of doing catastrophic damage to coastlines. Damage can extend several hundred miles inland. They can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour, as well as tornadoes and microbursts. They can also cause storm surges along coastlines and heavy rainfall. Most hurricane damage is due to flooding and flying debris.
Keeping your home and family safe during a hurricane takes a great deal of advance planning. First, ensure that you have appropriate insurance coverage in case your home or property is damaged. Second, make and be ready to execute an emergency preparedness plan.
Don’t Get Caught in the Dark: Know Your Insurance Coverage
Reviewing your homeowners insurance is something you should do every year. If you live in a hurricane zone, it is even more important to know what is covered, what is not, and what you need to do to ensure your claims are handled properly. Here are some items you should consider:
• Does your policy provide coverage for additional living expenses? This coverage pays for hotels and meals if you cannot live in your home because of damage caused by a hurricane.
• Consider flood insurance. Standard homeowners or renters insurance does not cover flood and/or storm-surge damage. Flood insurance is available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and by some private insurance companies. For more information visit www.FloodSmart.gov.
• Understand your deductible. Many homeowners insurance policies issued in coastal states include separate hurricane deductibles. Know whether a hurricane deductible applies to your policy and how it will affect your claim.
• If you rent, have renters insurance to protect your belongings from losses due to the storm.
Be Prepared and Stay Safe
Getting ready for a hurricane is a lot of work. Here are just some of things you should do in order to prepare and stay safe from the storm:
• Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. Make sure family members know what to do, and designate a meeting spot if you get separated. Have a well-stocked first aid kit, non-perishable food items, at least three days worth of water, flashlights and plenty of batteries. Include your pets in your plan.
• Know your surroundings. Learn the elevation of your property and if your property is flood prone. Identify levees and dams nearby and determine if they pose a hazard to your property.
• Learn evacuation routes and create an evacuation plan. Where will you go and how will you get there? Obey all evacuation orders. Don’t forget to fill your car’s gas tank.
• Secure your property. Bring inside any outdoor items that can be easily picked up by the wind. Close windows and doors, and cover windows with plywood. Make sure your roof can withstand high winds.
• Minimize hazards by turning off propane tanks and unplugging small appliances.
• Minimize food losses by turning your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keeping them closed as much as possible before the storm. This will help food last longer if the power goes out.
• Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service. Monitor local TV and radio announcements for instructions. Be sure to have a battery-operated radio.
• Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan and what resources are available to you.
• If you have a boat, determine how and where to secure it well before the storm hits.
• If no public shelter is available during the storm, go to the basement, a closet, a small room or a hallway away from windows.
These are just some of the things you need to do in order to be prepared and stay safe during a hurricane. Atlantic hurricane season is June through November. Hurricane season for the eastern Pacific is May 15 – Nov 30.
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