Hurricanes can devastate communities across the United States in ways unimaginable. Within the last five years, we have seen homelessness, illness, loss of life, loss of pets, loss of property, loss of business, etc. due to the forces of this natural disaster. From June to the end of November of each year, destructive winds, tornadoes, and floods from heavy rains are all things that can be expected if one lives in an area frequented by hurricanes. One should be prepared before the hurricane season starts…before it is too late.
Have a plan:
Many people suffer more losses when they do not know what to do or what to expect. Sit down and develop a plan with your family and/or employees. Things to consider in this plan include:
- What are the hazards in your community? Are there any bodies of water nearby that could flood? Are there trees that could fall?
- What is the safest area of your building in the event of a hurricane? Also consider evacuating to another location as the home or office may not be the safest option. Know which areas will be serving as a hurricane shelter in your community.
- Are you covered? Set up a time to review your building or home's insurance policy with your agent to see if it covers the damages a hurricane may cause.
- What escape routes will be used? Take into consideration any road closures that may take effect due to hurricane damage.
- Have a friend or family member that lives outside of your state (or outside of your region) be the primary contact before and during an emergency event. That way there is one main point of contact. During and after a natural disaster, phone lines may be down or tied-up, or you may have to worry more about your safety than taking phone calls.
- Plan what do to with your pets. Will they stay with you or be placed into a kennel when hurricane notices are aired?
- Have important phone numbers posted in an area that will be memorable. Include the numbers for your insurance claims office, family members, business contacts, and hurricane damage restoration specialist. Make sure everyone is clear about when to call 9-1-1.
- Prepare an emergency disaster kit with first aid supplies, important information, maps, medications, water, weather radio, flash lights, batteries, and non-perishable foods.
Protect your property:
A little work and time can save you from a lot of the anxiety that comes with hurricane damage restoration. Materials can be purchased in advance and stored in a garage or storage room, eliminating the need to rush to a home improvement store. Making a to-do list can help make sure you've covered your bases:
- Protect any areas of the home or building that have glass with hurricane shutters. Don't have shutters? Boarding these areas up with plywood could work just as well.
- Secure outdoor gas tanks and furniture so they do not float away, get blown away, damaged, or thrown into your property by strong winds. Also take care to secure any boats and trailers.
- Park vehicles inside a garage or appropriate storage facility. Make sure any cars that may be driven have full tanks of gas.
- Move valuable items away from the windows. If the building has more than one level, move items to the upper-level to prevent water damage.
- Fill the bathtub or extra sinks with water. If your home or building no longer has water service, you will have a little something extra.
Plan to Recover:
Storms always end, including hurricanes. When the worst of it is over, it is time to recover. The damage a hurricane causes can be extensive. If necessary, call your insurance claims office as soon as possible so a hurricane damage assessment can be completed. After the claims adjuster has visited, hurricane damage restoration can begin.
Hurricane damage restoration lets someone else do the dirty work. The specialists can help dry-out wet documents, photos, and property items to prevent mold damage. They can help make sure harmful molds that may have grown are eliminated. Hiring this service ensures a safer building, faster business continuity, and the chance to focus on getting your life back to normal.
A hurricane does not have to be a disaster if you are prepared.
~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2009
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