This week marked the start of the potentially busiest part of hurricane season. With a tropical storm forming near Puerto Rico, we thought it was time for a review of hurricane preparedness. From FEMA’s www.ready.gov site, where you can learn to prepare for any and all disasters including pandemics or even the zombie apocalypse.
Review your insurance coverage. It will be too late to obtain flood or windstorm insurance if a storm is declared a hurricane, and there is a 30 day waiting period to enforce any flood policy. (See our blog about this from 2012.)
Put together a disaster kit. A basic emergency supply kit includes the following:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Make a communications plan for emergencies and review it with your family. More on that here.
Know your surroundings. What is the elevation of your property? Is it prone to flooding? Are there levees, dams or other bodies of water that might become a hazard?
Know the hurricane evacuation routes, and keep a paper copy of directions.
Keep trees and shrubs around your home well trimmed to resist wind.
Clear loose and clogged rain gutters.
Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else not tied down.
Reinforce garage doors – if wind enters a garage it can cause expensive structural damage.
Have a generator and fuel ready for a power outage. Never run a generator inside your home or in the rain.
Consider storm shutters for your windows, or get 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. If a hurricane WARNING is issued, you will have less than 24 hours to cover your windows.
Straps or clips to fasten your roof to the frame of your house can reduce roof damage.
Consider building a safe room in your home.
Listen to the radio or TV for the latest information. Follow @NHC_Atlantic or local news channels on Twitter.
Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
Turn off propane tanks.
Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies. Texting may be a better way to communicate in the event of an emergency.
Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
If you are unable to evacuate, follow these guidelines:
1. Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
2. Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
3. Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
4. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
5. Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
You should always evacuate under the following conditions:
1. If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
2. If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations. Avoid elevators and take the stairs to evacuate.
3. If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
Continue listening to the local news for the latest updates.
Stay alert for rain and flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
If you 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: shelter 12345).
Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
Call Adams Insurance Service if there is damage: 713-869-8346 or 800-438-8346
(Please refer to your insurance summary for home and mobile contact phone numbers)