STORM SEASON PREPARATION
Storm/ hurricane season is June 1 to November 30. The best time to prepare for summer storms is before they start.
In areas that frequently get hit with tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s a good idea to have a closet or an area set aside to store everything you need if disaster strikes. You should also have an emergency kit that you can grab and go if you have to evacuate.
A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It is time to get ready, make sure you know where your emergency supplies are, discuss your emergency/evacuation plans with your family, and monitor the weather to find out if conditions have deteriorated.
A warning requires immediate action. It means that sustained winds above 73 mph are expected somewhere within the warning area. The National Hurricane Center says “Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds (which are 39 to 73 mph) “. For those people who haven’t been proactive, there is still a buffer for last minute preparations.
We want you to be prepared so we have consolidated in one convenient place information, lists and contact info.
Stay safe and dry!
Assess your Risk
Assess your risk and know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind.
- Use the FEMA Map Portal to determine your Flood Risk
- Use the National Hurricane Center’s Hurricane Preparedness tool for assessing where you are in terms of potential hazards.
- Be educated about the dangers of Storm Surges and the potential threats.
- Get an Insurance Checkup: Find and read your policy! For Flood Insurance start here.
- Collect and Secure your Important Documents.
- Take a Home Inventory.
- Prepare a list of important contacts both on paper and on your phone.
Make your SMARTPHONE Hurricane Ready!
- First of all, make sure it is fully charge and purchase a portable charger to provide power during an outage.
- Download helpful apps to help you prepare, get through and deal with the aftermath:
- Hurricane App by the American Red Cross
- NOAA Radar US
- Weather Underground
- Waze for real-time traffic and road condition information.
- Gas Buddy finds out which gas stations have availability and also gives you prices.
- Zello Allows you to connect people when phone lines are down.
- Nextdoor Great way to keep in touch with your neighbors
- iHeartRadio Allows you to hear local radio stations
- In Florida, FPL outage to check power outages.
Before the Storm
Fortify Your Home:
You can’t completely prevent any damage from storms and hurricanes, but you can be proactive and take steps to help lessen the problems if the worst occurs. Click HERE to see a comprehensive guide on How To Reduce Hurricane Damage to your Home from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.
Sign Up for Storm Alerts:
Many counties have an emergency alert system which you can sign up for to get text and email alerts. You will be notified immediately if there is bad weather heading your way. To sign up for this you can search on your cell phone for an app, or google the county you live in and the word “alert”.
Build an Emergency Kit:
Fill your emergency kit with supplies you may need if you’re staying at home during a hurricane, or if you lose power for several days after a major storm. It is a good idea to have a kit for each member of your family, including your pet. Store the kits in an easily accessible place. Click here to create a simple Customized Hurricane Supplies List.
For most storms you will likely stay at home, so you need to choose a safe area where you and your family can go when the weather gets rough. Choose an interior room like a walk-in closet or a bathroom near the center of your home. It should be on the first floor of your home and away from exterior doors and windows.
During and after a major storm or hurricane, family members could become separated, especially if you have to evacuate or shelter outside of your home. If there is major damage in your area, you will want a communication plan to get in touch with everyone to be sure they are safe. Tracking down family members can get stressful, so discuss a plan ahead of time.
Choose a family member or friend in the area, and one outside of the area as the point of contact for after the storm ends. If the phones are not working, try to send an email or a message through social media. Make a contact list including phone numbers and email addresses.
PET SAFETY PLAN
Create an emergency kit for your pet(s), including food, water, litter, and box if you have a cat, medications, photos of your pets, contact information for your vet, and the nearest animal hospital. If you give your pet Benedryl to calm them during storms, keep a bottle in the emergency kit.
Have a (soft) crate that you can easily travel with just in case you need to evacuate.
Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar with their name, your name, and your phone numbers (if possible, include a backup number in case something happens to your cell phone).
PLEASE NOTE: YOU MUST register your pet ahead of time in a pet-friendly shelter. Visit petfriendlytravel.com/pet shelters for more information.
Supplies for 3 Days. It is important to keep enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of your family for at least three days. This includes non-perishable food and water to last each person in your family at least 72 hours. Store all of your supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry, (preferably water-proof) containers.
High Liquid/Low Salt. Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods with high liquid content, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Avoid foods with a lot of salt, they will make you thirsty. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.
Pet Emergency Kit. If you have a pet, they should have a separate “emergency kit”, including their own supply of water. Click here for more info on how to plan for your pet.
To-Go Kit. You should also have a separate emergency kit that you can take with you should you need to evacuate. Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency, if you have to evacuate at a moment’s notice you will not have time to search for everything you need.
Keep your kit handy. Store your emergency kit someplace convenient so you can grab it and get out quickly. Every year before storm season you should check the contents of the bag to make sure that there are still enough supplies available, and the food and medicines haven’t expired.
Remember your phone. Keep your cell phone on the charger to make sure it is fully charged. If possible put it next to (or better yet, on top of your emergency bag in case you have to leave in a hurry.
Trim Trees: Trim any dead branches or limbs off of trees, shrubs or bushes around your property. If there are branches that hang over your roof or close to a window, it is a smart idea to cut those off too. Lastly, make sure there are no branches hanging over or close to where you park your car.
PLEASE NOTE: Do not pile loose debris on your curb unless you can call someone to get it soon after you place it there. You do not want to be stuck with a pile of dead branches with a storm approaching.
Windows: If you have hurricane shutters, check that each one is in working condition. If you are going to cover your windows with plywood, make sure you know where all of the tools are that you need, and you have all of the hardware needed to install.
Document your Property: Take photos or videos of your personal property in case you need it for insurance purposes. It is a good idea to scan in all of your receipts so you can easily access them later. Other important documents to scan are your insurance policies, wills, stock certificates, passports, Social Security card, etc.
Seal Openings: Check the caulk (which is what seals gaps and seams) around your windows and doors. Weather damages caulk over time (more so in hot climates), causing it to crack and peel. Windows caulked poorly can allow sideways-blowing rain in during a storm.
Exterior walls that have holes cut out for cable or other electrical wires are another place to check for proper caulking. The holes that should be sealed with a waterproof exterior sealant to prevent water from coming in.
Secure Everything: If you can pick it up, the wind can too. Any item left in your yard (or your neighbors’), could become airborne during a storm, damaging windows, property, cars, even injuring people. Furniture, grill, garbage cans, even a tire swing, can do a lot of damage once picked up by the wind. If it is not possible to bring something inside, secure it with a tarp and heavy-duty twine/rope, or sandbags.
During the Storm
Riding out a hurricane can be a very scary ordeal. Howling winds and loud driving rain can be quite unnerving.
Once you have secured the house and everything outside, it’s time to make the inside of your home safe.
♦ Keep an Eye Out. The weather reports are pretty accurate as to when the storm is going to hit, but they do need some wiggle room. Take shelter at least 2 hours before the storm hits.
♦ Do Not Use Electrical Appliances. During a hurricane, the mixture of water and lightning can result in getting electrocuted.
♦ Find a Safe Place. Go to an interior room, closet or a bathroom, keep your Emergency Disaster Supply Kit close at hand. Bathtubs can provide some shelter if you cover yourself with plywood or other materials. Stay away from windows, skylights and exterior doors.
♦ Cut the Power. If you lose power or if there is a risk of flooding, immediately turn off your main breaker (if it’s safe to do so). Regardless of whether you stay or leave, you should unplug all of your appliances and electronics to avoid damage caused by power surges when lines and power are restored.
♦ Do not go outside. When the eye of the storm passes over your area there is a lull in the wind that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour. It will be calm and quiet and people tend to go out to survey the damage. This is very dangerous because there is no indication when calm will end, and once the eye passes there are even greater hurricane force winds coming from the opposite direction.
After the Storm
Be safe! Make sure everyone is safe, including your pets.
If you have evacuated, wait until authorities tell you it’s safe before returning home.
Most importantly COMMUNICATE that you are safe by using the sites below:
Stay tuned to the local news for important announcements, bulletins, and instructions concerning the storm area. You will be able to stay informed of medical aid and other assistance, like where you can get food, water, and shelter.
Protect Yourself. Always be careful when entering a damaged building. Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines.
♦ When returning home, turn off the main electrical circuit switch before heading back inside. Stand on a dry surface and do not touch the metal handle of the switch box. Use a piece of heavy rubber, plastic or a piece of dry wood to open the metal door and throw the switch.
♦ Do not use matches or turn on light switches until you know it is safe.
♦ Sniff for gas leaks. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and evacuate. Call the gas company immediately.
♦ Keep a watch for holes in the floor, loose boards, and broken glass.
♦ If your home has been flooded, check for snakes and other animals that may have entered the property.
♦ Keep Food and Water Safe by following these important steps.
Protect Your Property. If you need to make immediate repairs (ie. tarp on roof or boards on windows), take pictures before starting, and keep all receipts for your insurance company.
Prepare a List. Before you start the cleanup, prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property (your home inventory list will help you greatly at this point).
Keep Receipts. If your home is uninhabitable due to storm damage and you must seek other lodgings, keep all your receipts. Most insurance policies reimburse for emergency lodging and food.
♦ If you lost power, check your refrigerator for food that may have been spoiled. Read your insurance policy to see if you have coverage for spoiled food. If you do, document your losses so you can get reimbursed.
Submit Claim. After you’ve examined everything and determined the extent of the damage, call Gulfstream at 866.485.3005 to start the claims process. Keep a written record of everyone you talk to about your insurance claim, including the date of the conversation and a summary of what was said.
♦ When you call customer service to make your claim, you can request a list of contractors for emergency help. If you utilize a contractor to help secure and protect your property, be sure to keep the receipts.
Get the Proper Help. After you file a claim you’ll need the right professional to assist you; one you can trust to do only the highest quality work. We have worked with many skilled professionals across the Gulf Coast*. Please visit www.gspcic.com/aob for a list of helpful hints when hiring a contractor.
Read the Fine Print. When getting quotes and discussing contracts read everything, including the fine print, of anything you are asked to sign. Some contractors may request you sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB), which is basically transferring your claim interest over to them.
Please click here for more info on AOB.