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How to Prepare for Hurricane Season: Top 6 Pre-Hurricane Preparation Steps

As hurricane season approaches, being well-prepared and equipped to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property is crucial. Hurricanes can potentially cause significant damage and disruption, but with careful planning and proactive measures, you can minimize the impact on your life. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps needed to prepare for hurricane season and ensure you have the knowledge and resources to safeguard your home, secure your belongings, and have the right insurance coverage.

Hurricanes can bring powerful winds of at least 74 miles per hour, torrential rain, tornadoes, and destructive storm surges that can wreak havoc on coastal areas of Georgia and even extend inland. Being caught off guard can lead to severe consequences. Still, by taking proactive steps to prepare, you can significantly reduce the risks and increase your resilience in the face of a hurricane. From creating a family emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit to fortifying your home and reviewing your insurance coverage, this article will provide the essential information and guidance to navigate hurricane season confidently.

By understanding the potential risks, knowing how to protect your home, and ensuring you have the proper insurance coverage, you will be better prepared to weather the storm and recover quickly. Remember that standard Homeowner’s Insurance does not cover flood damage. Let’s delve into the steps to prepare for hurricane season, safeguard your loved ones, and secure your property.

What is hurricane season?

As we get started in this article, it will be helpful to understand what hurricane season is.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. This season can significantly threaten people living in areas prone to hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season affects the East Coast, Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean, possibly causing significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure on the Georgia Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Hurricanes are classified based on their wind speeds and can range from Category 1 to Category 5, with Category 5 being the most dangerous. These storms can cause severe flooding, high winds, and power outages.

Experts from NOAA state that preparing for hurricanes is crucial before disaster strikes.

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The Image displays the 5 categories for Hurricanes from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Indicating the amount of damage to expect from these hurricanes.

Take the threat seriously!

Hurricane season is a force of nature that demands our utmost attention and preparation. The potential dangers it poses are not to be taken lightly. Hurricanes are becoming more powerful, larger, and more frequent. The consequences of not preparing adequately can be devastating. We must take the threat of hurricane season seriously before it’s too late.

Throughout history, hurricanes have left a trail of destruction in their wake. From the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to the recent Hurricane Dorian in 2019, we have witnessed the immense damage these storms can cause. Entire communities have been decimated, lives have been lost, and the road to recovery has been long and arduous. These historical examples are a stark reminder of the need to prepare for the worst.

Potential Consequences:

  1. Power outages can spoil refrigerated food and medicine supplies, leaving us without essential resources during and after the storm.
  2. Floods can contaminate tap water, posing a severe health risk. Without proper preparation, we may be left without clean drinking water.
  3. Evacuation may become necessary, and without adequate preparation, we may find ourselves scrambling to gather essential items and make hasty decisions. This can lead to confusion, panic, and potential harm.

Taking the threat of hurricane season seriously means being proactive and prepared. By making a plan today, staying informed through reliable sources like NOAA Weather Radio and local news channels, and following evacuation orders from authorities, we can minimize the risks and potential damage. Turning off utilities, having a designated meeting place for family members, and having a plan for pet evacuation are crucial steps to ensure everyone’s safety.

What to consider when preparing for hurricane season

1. Pre-Hurricane Home Inventory

When preparing for hurricane season, creating a home inventory is crucial to ensure that you are adequately covered by property insurance and expedite the claims process in case of damage or loss. Additionally, a home inventory can help substantiate losses for income tax purposes and assist in applying for federal or state disaster aid. Here are some steps on how to create a comprehensive home inventory:

  1. Start by collecting and safeguarding all critical financial, medical, educational, and legal documents, records, and any special items that are significant to you.
  2. Store valuable documents, unique items, and critical financial and medical records in waterproof plastic tubes with locking tops. This will help protect them during hurricanes and other water-related disasters.
  3. Back up all necessary documents and store electronic copies on a secure cloud storage platform. This ensures you can access important information, even if physical copies are damaged.
  4. Take a video “tour” of your home, documenting all of your belongings and the current condition of your property. This video will provide visual evidence of your possessions and their situation, which can be extremely valuable for insurance claims and recovery efforts.
  5. In the event of an evacuation, move all valuable electronics, jewelry, artwork, or memorabilia to a room, preferably with no outer walls and above ground level. These measures will help keep the valuables left behind safe from the hurricane-force winds, and any flooding caused by torrential rain or storm surge will not reach them.

2. Insurance Policy Review to Prepare for Unexpected Storm Surge and Flooding Typical Homeowners Insurance won’t cover.

Home floating on a life raft with a storm brewing in the background. This image is to identify how home insurance might not cover your losses during a flood.

When preparing for hurricane season, one of the most crucial steps is to review your insurance policies, whether you are a homeowner or a renter. Understanding the coverage provided by your insurance policies and determining if it is adequate to repair or rebuild your home and replace your belongings in a hurricane-related disaster is essential.

First and foremost, it is essential to be aware that a typical homeowners insurance policy does not cover damages caused by flooding. This means that if your home is affected by floodwaters during a hurricane, you may be unable to rely on your standard homeowner’s insurance to cover the damages. Therefore, it is strongly advised to consider purchasing flood insurance to ensure you are adequately protected.

In addition to flood insurance, if you live in a coastal area, you may need a separate policy protecting against wind and wind-blown water damage. This additional policy can safeguard your property from the specific risks associated with hurricanes in coastal regions. It is essential to consult with an experienced independent insurance agent who understands your particular situation and can guide you in selecting the appropriate coverage for your needs.

Speaking to an independent insurance agent is crucial because they have the expertise to assess your insurance needs and provide tailored recommendations. They can review your existing policies and help you understand the risks of flooding in your area and what your policy currently does and does not cover.

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3. Hurricane Emergency Supply Kit

In the official Georgia Hurricane Guide published in 2019 by the Georgia Emergency Management Homeland Security and National Weather Service, the Red Cross recommends the following items in your Hurricane Supply Kit:

  1. At least a 7-day supply of non-perishable food and water. One gallon of water per person per day is recommended.
  2. Battery-powered portable television or radio with extra batteries
  3. Flashlight with extra batteries
  4. First Aid kit and manual of how to apply First aid if needed
  5. Sanitation and hygiene items such as instant hand sanitizing gel, moist towelettes, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products
  6. Whistle
  7. Kitchen accessories, cooking utensils, and a manual can opener
  8. Cash
  9. Extra clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags
  10. Matches in a waterproof container
  11. Photocopies of identification, insurance, prescriptions, household inventory, credit cards, and your latest utility bill
  12. Thumb drive, cloud back-up, CD or photocopies of essential documents such as birth/marriage certificates and titles
  13. Prescription medications, eyeglasses, contact lens solution, and hearing aid batteries
  14. Formula, baby food, diapers, and pacifiers
  15. Pet carrier, leashes, shot records, and food for each animal evacuating with you
  16. A good map showing country roads and highways
  17. Tire repair kit, booster cables, pump, and flares
  18. White distress flag • Toys and games for children
  19. List of family phone numbers and addresses outside the area
  20. Multi-Purpose Tool (Leatherman)
  21. Cell phone with charger

Keep your storm supplies kit in a bag or container conveniently to ensure that it is always ready for use. Regularly check each item for upcoming expiration dates and ensure they are still usable. Replenish your supplies as needed. It is also recommended to have a plan for evacuation and rallying points if family members are separated. Use the map to highlight preferred evacuation routes on the map reviewing these and alternative ways if the preferred courses are no longer accessible.

4. Safety and Security Measures to Hurricane proof your home

When protecting your home from the destructive forces of a hurricane, taking proactive safety and security measures is essential. By implementing effective strategies to hurricane-proof your home, you can significantly minimize potential damage, ensure the safety of your loved ones, and bring yourself peace of mind during the stormy season. This section will explore a range of practical and proven methods to fortify your home against hurricanes, from reinforcing windows and doors to securing outdoor objects and creating a robust evacuation plan. With these safety measures, you can face hurricane season confidently, knowing you have done everything possible to safeguard your home and family.

  1. Secure outdoor items: High winds during a hurricane can pick up and hurl outdoor items, such as lawn furniture and trash cans, which can cause damage to the home or injure someone. By securing these items, you reduce the risk of them becoming projectiles. This can be done by storing them indoors or tying them down securely.
  2. Anchor hazardous objects: Gas grills and propane tanks should not be brought inside the home during a hurricane due to the risk of fire or explosion. However, they should be adequately anchored to prevent them from being moved by strong winds. This reduces the risk of them causing damage or harm.
  3. Trim or remove trees: Trees close enough to fall on your home during a hurricane pose a significant risk. By trimming back or eliminating these trees, you reduce the chances of them damaging your home during high winds. This action helps protect the structural integrity of your home.
  4. Reinforcing windows: Windows are vulnerable to high winds and flying debris damage during a hurricane. Installing tested/manufactured hurricane shutters or pre-cut plywood provides a physical barrier that can withstand the impact of debris and prevent windows from shattering. Georgia’s Hurricane Guide recommends using a minimum of 5/8″ thick plywood anchored with two-inch screws and/or special clips. This protects the home’s interior from wind and water damage and reduces the risk of injury from shattered glass.
  5. Clean out drains, gutters, and downspouts: Flooding is a common issue during hurricanes, and clogged drains, gutters, and downspouts can exacerbate the problem. Keeping these areas clear of debris ensures that water can flow away from your home as efficiently as possible, reducing the risk of water damage.
  6. Stockpile protective materials: Plastic sheeting and sandbags can be used to create barriers against flooding. Plastic sheeting can cover vulnerable areas, such as doors and low-lying windows, while sandbags can be strategically placed to redirect or absorb water. These materials help mitigate the risk of water entering your home and causing damage.
  7. Elevate essential systems: Elevating the heating system, water heater, and electric panel can help protect them from floodwaters. Raising these systems above the expected flood level reduces the risk of water damage and potential electrical hazards. This action helps to minimize damage to your major appliances and electrical systems.
  8. Be prepared for extended periods without essential services: If you choose not to evacuate during a hurricane, it is crucial to be ready for an extended period without basic services such as power, water, gas, phone, and internet. Stocking up on non-perishable food, water, batteries, and other necessary supplies can help weather the storm safely and comfortably.
  9. Proper generator usage: Generators provide power during an outage but should never be used indoors. Generators emit carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can build up in enclosed spaces. It is crucial to place generators more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Following this precaution ensures the safety of you and your family.
  10. Short notice precautions: In case of a last-minute hurricane warning, you can take several quick actions to protect your home. Boarding up windows with plywood helps prevent them from breaking and protects the home’s interior from wind and water damage. Securing exterior doors with additional locks or braces helps reinforce them against strong winds. Unplugging electrical equipment reduces the risk of injury from power surges. Lastly, moving your vehicle from low-lying areas where flooding should not be an issue.

5. Storm Tracking and Forecasts

Tracking storms and staying informed about forecasts can be daunting, but ensuring your safety and preparedness is crucial. Meteorologists use various terminology to communicate important information about tropical cyclones, and understanding these terms can help you interpret the data and make informed decisions. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of storm tracking!

First, let’s start with the basics. Tropical cyclones are categorized based on their wind speeds. A tropical depression has winds of 38 mph, while tropical storms have wind speeds ranging from 39 to 73 mph. The system is classified as a hurricane once the winds reach 74 mph. It’s important to note that the upper right quadrant of the storm is typically the most intense part, with the strongest winds and heaviest precipitation.

Now, let’s discuss the terms you may hear when tracking storms. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible. However, A Hurricane Watch suggests hurricane conditions are possible in the area.  

When a Tropical Storm Warning is issued tropical storm conditions are expected in the area. Similarly, a Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions are expected in the area. Warnings are typically issued 36 hours in advance of tropical-storm-force winds. When an alarm is given, it is crucial to follow the directions of officials and take immediate action to ensure your safety.

Now, let’s look at some specific terms related to tropical cyclones. The eye of the storm is the clear, sometimes well-defined center. It is characterized by calmer conditions compared to the surrounding areas. The eye wall, on the other hand, surrounds the eye and contains some of the most severe weather of the storm, including the highest wind speeds and heaviest precipitation. Rain bands are another important term to be familiar with. These bands extend outward from the cyclone, producing severe weather conditions such as heavy rain, strong winds, and even tornadoes.

Storm surge is one of a landfalling storm’s most underestimated and deadly aspects. Storm surge occurs when ocean water swells due to the storm, leading to coastal flooding and sometimes flooding in areas further inland. It is essential to know the potential for storm surge and heed any evacuation orders or warnings related to this threat.

Staying updated with the latest developments from reliable sources, such as the National Hurricane Center (NHC), is recommended to interpret and make sense of all this information effectively. The NHC provides the most up-to-date information on tropical cyclone developments, forecasts, and weather alerts. Their website is valuable for tracking storms and understanding the potential impacts.

3 homes lined up on a suburban street.

6. Plan for Evacuation

Evacuating from a hurricane can be a daunting task, but with proper preparation and planning, you can ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones. In this section, we will explore the critical elements of a successful evacuation plan.

First and foremost, it is essential to be well-informed about the potential disasters and hazards that could affect your area. Stay updated on weather forecasts and pay attention to the advice given by local emergency officials. Knowing the risks specific to your location will help you make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.

One critical aspect of evacuation planning is identifying your vulnerabilities. Are you in a flood-prone area? Do you live in a place with limited access in and out? Understanding these factors will help you determine the best course of action. For instance, if you are in a flood-prone area, it may be wise to evacuate early to avoid being trapped by rising waters. Include these areas on the physical map you are sharing with your family.

When creating your evacuation plan, consider how you will contact and reconnect with your family if separated. Establish a meeting place that is familiar and easy to find, ensuring everyone knows the location. Additionally, have a family communication plan in place, so you can stay connected even if you cannot reach one another. This can include contacting relatives or close friends about your whereabouts and well-being.

Choosing a destination ahead of time is also crucial. While public shelters can be a last resort, seeking shelter with family and friends is generally recommended whenever possible. Public shelters may have limited resources and may not accept pets, so finding a pet-friendly option is essential if you have furry companions. Remember to pack necessary supplies for your pets, including food, water, and medications.

Mapping your evacuation route and preparing alternative ways is another vital step. Roads may become blocked or inaccessible during a hurricane, so having multiple options can help ensure a smoother evacuation process. Give yourself ample time to leave and secure your home correctly using the methods mentioned above before departing.

Conclusion

As hurricane season approaches, taking every precaution to protect your home and loved ones is crucial. By implementing the safety and security measures discussed in this article, you’re well on your way to hurricane-proofing your property. However, one critical aspect that should be considered is ensuring adequate insurance coverage to safeguard your home during a hurricane. Don’t leave your property vulnerable to potential damage. Contact a knowledgeable and experienced White Oak Insurance agent today to review your homeowner’s policy and ensure you have the necessary coverage to weather the storm. Our dedicated team is here to assist you, providing personalized guidance and helping you make informed decisions about your insurance needs.

Together, we can ensure that you’re fully prepared and protected, no matter what challenges the hurricane season may bring.

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