A Homeowner’s Guide to Hurricane Preparation

Hurricanes can be devastating, life-changing events. For those who live in coastal areas, high winds and flood waters may damage your home and belongings to the point you must temporarily relocate.

Hurricanes are not considered a regular occurrence in New England, but the occasional storm can permanently alter communities. As a baseline to anticipate these weather events, check your homeowner’s policy for listed perils and purchase flood insurance.

While insurance helps in the aftermath, you can get ahead of the storm with preparation.

Before the Hurricane

When it comes to weather preparedness, you may not always be thinking of hurricanes. Snow, ice and strong winds might top your list, but it’s important to be prepared for all potential disasters. As you anticipate a hurricane:

  • Make an emergency kit that can be grabbed on the go if you need to evacuate. Include food and water, clothing, first aid supplies, cash, a flashlight, medications, batteries and crucial documents.  
  • Think about preparing your home. Windows can be protected with shutters or boards, while all furniture, appliances and electronics should be moved to your home’s upper levels before the storm arrives, if possible.
  • Be prepared for an evacuation. Have a route that you’ve practiced, as well as an alternative. If a hurricane is anticipated, fill your car’s gas tank ahead of time.  
  • Make an emergency communication plan with family members, in case of power loss or a sudden storm. Gather phone numbers in advance and keep the list safely stored.
  • Prepare for potential damage. Create an inventory of all your valuables, including initial cost, and take pictures of their current condition. This information may come in handy if high winds, water or mold leads to costly repairs or destroys any items.

Include pets in your evacuation plan as well. Make sure you have the necessities, such as a leash, carrier and any important documents. In the unfortunate event you are separated from a pet in the storm, have up-to-date photos available to show.

Not all emergency shelters take pets, so be in contact with your veterinarian or plan to leave the area with your pet to wait out the storm.

Make & Practice an Evacuation Plan

During a hurricane evacuation, the goal should be for everyone in your household to meet at a particular spot. Yet it can be dangerous to leave on a whim with a storm coming.

Instead, develop and practice a comprehensive evacuation plan. Take into account:

  • Any procedures for a mandatory evacuation of your region.
  • Where you will be meeting, be it a shelter or a location outside the region.
  • How you’ll get there, including the route and method of transportation. Have a backup route, but make sure to avoid obstructed roads or high flood waters.
  • The amount of gas your car will need. Regions preparing for a hurricane often experience gasoline shortages and power outages can prevent pumps from working. If you live in a hurricane-prone region, always keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • How you’ll access your emergency supplies. To save time, many people leave a kit in the trunk of their car.  

When a Storm Hits Your Area

Some individuals may decide to wait out the storm, especially if there is no mandatory evacuation order. In this situation:

  • Avoid all windows, even if using storm shutters. Glass can shatter and quickly become a cause of injury.
  • Always move to higher ground, whether seeking shelter inside or outdoors.
  • Never swim or walk through floodwaters. You never know the depth or what’s underneath, and they often have the strength to wash away a car.
  • Avoid fire risks in your home. Unplug all appliances and never use candles for light.
  • Continue to listen to the radio for weather updates and emergency instructions.

Once the storm has passed:

  • Avoid walking or driving anywhere. The floodwaters may still be high, which is dangerous for travel.
  • Only return home when your local authorities deem it safe to do so. Dangerous debris, chemicals and electrical currents all pose safety hazards.
  • Think about flood damage. Many homeowners need to have the water pumped out before the scope of destruction can be fully assessed. If items cannot be saved at this point, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance carrier.

A typical homeowner’s policy only covers select instances of water damage. To anticipate the risks of a hurricane in your area, you may want to supplement with flood insurance. To adjust your coverage, contact us today.