When it comes to safety in hurricane situations, having a plan prior to the storm will save you time and money. The National Weather Service has predicted it will be an “above average year” for hurricane season, with a likelihood of there being 13-19 named storms, including three to six “major” hurricanes. Taking the following simple steps will ensure your home and valuables are as secure as they can be. It will also give you the best chance to keep your valuables from being destroyed.
Even in the most dire situations where evacuation is required, you can still prepare quickly if you have a plan in place. Chances are, your planning will save important belongings and even prevent costly damage in the face of a hurricane. Here’s a look at the best ways to prepare.
Take Inventory of Your Valuables
Take inventory of your valuables by taking pictures of expensive items and keep notes of their serial numbers. It will aid with your insurance company if anything needs to be replaced.
Scan Important Items on to a Flash Drive
When there’s a chance your home could be flooded, that means anything from your birth certificate to insurance documents could get ruined. Scan anything you consider important onto a flash drive and make you know where that flash drive is located in case you have to evacuate. This includes those pictures you took of your flat screen television, along with insurance paperwork you could need later if the storm destroys your belongings.
Place Valuables In a Safe
Look for a safe that is water and fire resistant, if you have a safe with a handle on it, you can take it with you since it won’t take up much room in your vehicle. Regardless, it’s important to make sure your safes are waterproof, especially if you live near water. Here are some items you may think about placing in a safe, whether it’s a portable safe or an environmentally-proofed safe within your home:
- Family heirlooms and photographs
- Flash drive with important documents scanned
- Small electronics
Prepare Home Hurricane Evacuation Plans in Advance
In the case of incredibly strong hurricanes or for people living in low-lying coastal areas, it may be necessary to evacuate your home. At the beginning of hurricane season, create a checklist of exactly what you need if you have to pack up your important items to dodge the storm. Write down everything you plan to take with you, including insurance paperwork, family heirlooms and clothing. If you have a checklist ready, you’ll be more likely to remember all your important items later on when you may be feeling too anxious to think clearly.
Move Valuables to Higher Ground
Move your valuables to the highest level of your home if you are evacuating. This means moving your television, computers, or any other high dollar items to the second floor, or even up into the attic. High winds often present the greatest danger in a hurricane. They can carry harmful debris, breaking glass and can even blow the roof off a structure by building up pressure inside.
Secure Doors and Windows
Hurricane shutters are the best-known defense. The metal barriers can be lowered into place over windows and doors. There are also impact-resistant windows that use a plastic layer between glass panes in order to prevent them from breaking. For doors, fiberglass options can be stronger and more resistant to impact than wooden doors. Impact-resistant garage doors are also available that are rated strong enough to withstand even Category 5 hurricane winds.
Strengthen the Roof
Metal roofs may come with some disadvantages – they can be more expensive, noisy and prone to expanding and contracting, according to State Farm – but they can also be crucial in a storm, withstanding stronger winds than conventional roofs. Hurricane straps are another option, but another which can also be expensive to install. The metal straps connect roof trusses to wall frames, creating a stronger, more wind-resistant bond.
Clean up the Yard
It’s important to clear up yard debris before a storm, as winds can carry items like loose branches and turn them into projectiles that may cause serious damage or injuries. Outdoor furniture and other items should also be stored inside before a storm. It’s also a good idea to make sure gutters and anyplace else water flows are clear before a hurricane brings heavy rains.
Prepare for Floods and Outages
Many homes can benefit from a sump pump to flush water out of a basement during flooding. But hurricane winds frequently cause power outages, which can leave a pump sitting useless as water flows into your home. That’s why many experts recommend having a backup generator in case of emergencies. When using a generator, it’s important to run it in a safe, ventilated space. Once it’s running, the generator can also power essential emergency items like radios for storm updates and keep your refrigerated food fresh.
Perform a Home Security Check Up
If you have professional monitoring, it’s worth telling your security company if you think you may have to evacuate. That way the company knows if any alarm goes off, you are not present in or around the home and authorities should be notified right away. You should also ask if any of your equipment runs on battery backup. If it does, make sure those batteries are fresh. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, it’s worth asking your home security company if they offer any backup options for you in case of a power outage.
One simple way to keep your router online during a power outage is to purchase an Uninterrupted Power Supply. There are many different models that can provide anywhere from minutes to hours of battery power. It won’t necessarily keep you online in the worst storm conditions or for an extended amount of time, but it could keep you up and running for some time. Plus, it will continue to be useful even after hurricane season in case of any power surges.
Inspect Your Alarms
Hurricanes cause conditions that wipe out power, flood homes and even start fires. If you’ve invested in environmental sensors for your home like a carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector or leak sensors, examine them to make sure they’re working. Carbon monoxide detectors are especially important in hurricane conditions. In power outages, many people use generators to keep power running to their refrigerators or other parts of their home. But running a generator inside can be deadly. That’s because like an automobile, a generator gives off carbon monoxide. Testing your carbon monoxide detector prior to the storm is incredibly important to ensure that the levels in your home during and after the storm are safe for you and your family members.
Preparation is key. Even in the most dire situations where evacuation is required, you can still prepare quickly if you have a plan in place. Chances are, your planning will save important belongings and even prevent costly damage in the face of a hurricane or other natural disaster.