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How do I Prepare for a Hurricane – Hurricane preparedness checklist

2012-02-01
By: Advocate Brokerage

Rosalyn Binday, Founder
Advocate Brokerage Corp.

Preparing for hurricanes can be the difference between minor damage and catastrophic loss. The following information is intended to guide you in your preparation.

  • Create a Disaster Plan. Plan an evacuation route in advance and determine where you would go if you need to evacuate.

  • Prepare a survival kit. Stock up on drinking water, non-perishable goods, a first-aid kit and medicine for everyone including your pet. Include extra clothing, blankets, batteries, flashlights and a portable radio

  • Conduct a Home Hazard Hunt and make your home as safe as possible. Secure all objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture. Bring potted plants, mobile grills and any free standing, lightweight items indoors. Be sure all awnings are closed and secured. Tie down any other loose items that may become projectiles in a high wind.

  • Review how to shut off utilities in an emergency with all family members.

  • Make sure you have insurance policies with claim contact information, an inventory of your home’s contents, and cash.

  • Exterior Drains. Clear rain gutters and ground level drains of any debris to avoid water backing up.

  • Windows and Doors. If your home is equipped with shutters or panels, now is the time to use them. If you do not have shutters, close and lock windows and doors to minimize the chance of them blowing open, or of water being blown through gaps.

  • Move Furniture and Household Fixtures. Move them away from exterior door and window openings. If possible, elevate these items and cover them with plastic.

  • Secure Household Appliances. Appliances, including personal computers, should be unplugged and stored away in cabinets or interior closets.

  • Test and Refuel Your Backup Generator. If you have installed a gas-powered generator as a backup power supply in your home, regularly test it to ensure that it is operational at the time you need it. When a storm approaches, run another quick test and make sure that plenty of fuel is available.

  • Stay Aware. Stay tuned to weather advisories and evacuation notices. Also, know your community’s hurricane safety plan and develop a family emergency evacuation plan. Follow official notifications for a safe return home following an evacuation.

Safety for Businesses

  • Review your business continuity plan and communicate emergency evacuation and business interruption instructions to employees. If you do not have a written plan, now is the time to create one. Each business should have an emergency plan including a detailed procedure for evacuation, a checklist for shutting down processes and protecting buildings, contents, equipment, and yard storage. Procedures should include salvage instructions to follow the weather event.

  • Back up critical data and computer records off-site so that operations can continue after a disaster. Consider keeping a backup generator and plenty of batteries on hand so your business can continue to operate after a power loss.

  • As a hurricane approaches, quick actions should to be taken to install temporary protection features including:

    • Shutter or board up windows to protect them from flying debris

    • Clean out floor drains and catch basins to ensure maximum drainage

    • Anchor structures, trailers and yard storage so they are more likely to stay put in high winds

    • Fill emergency generator and fire pump fuel tanks

    • Shut down production processes safely

    • Shut off all flammable and combustible liquid and gas lines at their source

    • Shut off electrical power at the main building disconnect before the hurricane strikes

  • Once the storm has subsided and it is safe to return, a salvage team should be assembled and repair work prioritized, assuring proper supplies are available and safety procedures followed.

After the Hurricane – Action Guidelines

In the event of a hurricane, here are recommended actions to assist policyholders whose home and possessions have been lost, damaged or destroyed in a hurricane.

Returning Home:

  • If you have suffered a loss, report the loss to us as soon as possible. (914) 723-7100.

  • Should we have no phone service, our website is www.advocatebrokerage.com. Click on claims.

  • Provide a general description of the damage and, if possible, have your policy number available.

  • Make a note of the claim adjuster’s name, telephone number and inspection schedule.

  • If possible, keep damaged items or portions of these items until the claim adjuster has visited your home. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage as you found it for further documentation to support your claim.

  • Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster and, if available, give the adjuster receipts for those items.

  • Prepare a room-by-room list of contents. If available, use photos taken before the disaster which may help you remember items than can be easily overlooked or destroyed.

  • Keep your receipts if you are unable to live in your home or must relocate while repairs are being made.

As soon as it’s safe to enter the damaged area:

  • Make sure the building is structurally safe to enter or reoccupy.

  • Walk the property, watching for and avoiding downed tree limbs or power lines.

  • Do not use electricity until it is safe to do so. Look for broken electrical fixtures or exposed wiring. Report any downed wires or exposed wire to the utility company.

  • Ensure that natural gas sources are safely secured.

  • Check for damaged plumbing connections and pipes or standing water. The main water supply shutoff valve is typically located in the basement, crawlspace of your home or outside of the home near or on the water meter itself.

  • Secure the exterior to prevent further water intrusion. This can include boarding up broken windows, making temporary roof repairs, sealing cracks or tacking down plastic sheeting against open gaps in walls or roofs.

When it is safe to begin cleanup:

By taking immediate action, you will limit the damage and increase the chance of salvaging usable materials. You will also reduce the amount of rust, rot, mold and mildew that may develop, and lower the likelihood that the water will lead to structural problems.

  • Disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and relocate belongings to a safe, dry part of the house.

  • If there is standing water in the house, sweep as much of it to the outdoors as possible.

  • If possible, place water-damaged clothes, rugs, or furniture into a sunny or breezy location.

  • Begin to remove water-damaged materials immediately and take photos or save samples or discarded items (such as carpets) for insurance purposes.

  • Carpeting that has been wet for less than two days may be able to be salvaged by using a wet-vac or commercial carpet cleaner, but quick action is critical. In any case, the carpet padding will almost certainly have to be replaced.

  • If possible, run the air conditioning and/or dehumidifier, or use blowers or fans to help dry out the interior.

  • In the aftermath of high water inside your home – especially if the wallboard has been saturated, cutting four-inch diameter holes through the walls about one foot above the floor, will help the house dry out.

Disaster Recovery Tips

FEMA recommends being prepared with adequate supplies for the critical first 72 hours after a disaster. This includes operating under the assumption that utilities (phone, electricity, gas) as well as public safety (police and fire departments) may be unavailable. The following items should be included in a 72 hour “go bag” or kit:

  • Clothing: Each person should have two sets of clothes.
  • First Aid: You should have a fully stocked First Aid Kit and include any over the counter medications.
  • Water: Water is critical. Each person should have a minimum of one gallon per day.
  • Food: Pack high energy food bars and other non-perishable high energy snacks. This will help both the physical and mental aspects of a disaster.
  • Medication: You should have a three, or preferably 10 day supply of any prescription medications.
  • Important Documents: Insurance policies, contracts, wills, deeds, titles, and medical prescriptions in a waterproof pouch.
  • Money: You should have at least $250.00 in cash. Power failures will disable ATM’s and most credit card machines.
  • Misc: Extra blankets, hygiene products, N95 respirator masks, misc tools, flashlight, extra batteries and radio are all great things to have.

As always, do not hesitate to contact Advocate Brokerage for further assistance. In the event of a dire emergency, all of our carriers have claims service 24/7. Their 800 number can also be found on our internet address ( www.advocatebrokerage.com); or can be found at the insurer’sinternet address.

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