Preparing for Hurricane Season: Your Essential Guide
With the onset of the hurricane season, which for the Atlantic Basin extends from June 1st to November 20th, it’s critical that individuals and employers alike fully prepare for any adverse weather situations they may be exposed to. But what do you need to know to protect yourself, your family and/or your business? Is there a list of essentials that can help you weather a storm and what should you be considering in terms of hurricane, storm or flood insurance? In this article we break everything down for our customers, so they have the tools and the opportunity to safely prepare for the hurricane season.
What Should You Do if Your Area will be Directly Impacted by a Hurricane?
If evacuation is not mandatory and you plan to remain in your home with family, preparation is key to weathering the storm.
1. Water: One gallon per person per day for 3-7 days stored in non-breakable or decomposable containers.
2. Food: Maintain a 3-7 day supply of the following types of foods:
- Canned meats, fruits and vegetables
- Food for infants and toddlers such as formula and powdered milk
- High energy foods such as protein bars, other types of granola bars etc.
- Staples such as salt and sugar
3. First Aid Kit: Ensure that your First Aid Kit is stocked with a minimum of the following:
- Adhesive bandages, various sizes
- Bandage strips and “butterfly” bandages in assorted sizes
- Elastic wrap bandages
- Eye shield or pads
- Large triangular bandages
- 5″ x 9″ sterile dressing
- Conforming roller gauze bandages
- Sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
- Roll 3″ cohesive bandage.
- Germicidal hand wipes, antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer
- Large medical grade non-latex gloves.
- Adhesive tape, 2″ width
- Anti-bacterial ointment
- Instant cold/hot packs
- CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield
- Super glue
- Rubber tourniquet
- Aluminum finger splint
- Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
- Duct tape
- Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Plastic bags, assorted sizes
- Safety pins in assorted sizes
- Eyewash solution
- Sterile saline for irrigation, flushing
- Syringe, medicine cup or spoon
- First-aid manual
- Hydrogen peroxide
NOTE: Most First Aid kits can be purchased with the majority of these items.
4. Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs:
- Aloe Vera gel
- Calamine lotion
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Cough and cold medications
- Personal medications that do not need refrigeration
- Auto-injector of epinephrine, if prescribed by your doctor
- Pain relievers (Tylenol etc.)
- Prescription drugs
- Denture and contact lens needs
5. Tools and Supplies: Essential tools should be kept in a kit that can be easily moved as required.
- Emergency preparedness manual
- Plastic or paper cups, plates, and utensils and containers
- Plastic garbage bags, ties
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Non-electric can opener, utility knife
- Fire extinguisher
- Lighter or matches in a waterproof container
- Aluminum foil
- Paper, pencil
- Needles, thread
- Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
- Whistle or horn
- Plastic sheeting
6. Sanitary Items, Essential Bedding and Clothing: Pack these items in a bag in case evacuation is required on short notice.
- Toilet paper, towelettes
- Soap, liquid detergent
- Feminine supplies
- Diapers and bottles
- Personal hygiene items
- Plastic buckets with tight lid (for personal sanitation if required)
- Household chlorine bleach
- Sturdy shoes/rain or work boots
- Rain gear
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Hat and/or sunglasses/gloves, prescription glasses
7. Important Documents and Items: These items should be kept together, preferably in plastic Ziploc bags or water-tight containers
- List of shelters including pet-friendly options
- Deed and documentation for House and Vehicles
- Birth, Marriage and Deaths Certificates
- Social Security documents
- Driver’s License and Personal Identification Card
- House Insurance and Life Insurance Policies
- Important contracts
- Immunizations records
- Credit Card Documents
- Any other important documents
- Inventory of household items with photos
- Photos or mementos
- Books or Board games and other games that do not require batteries or electricity
- Keep a list of Emergency phone numbers, including contact information for your doctor and veterinarian, local emergency services, emergency road service providers and the poison help line (800-222-1222).
- Consider trimming any overgrown trees and clear drains at the start of the hurricane season to prevent any damage or clogging during a storm.
- Consider taping windows before an impending storm with duct tape in an ‘X’ shape to prevent their shattering if they break.
- Purchase sand bags where possible and know how to use them.
- Remove any furniture, loose items, items attached on the roof that can become projectiles.
How Should Pets be Handled During a Hurricane?
Planning for pets must be a key part of any preparation for an impending hurricane. Where evacuation is mandated, determine which shelters, hotels or boarding facilities (veterinary clinics) are available so pets can be accommodated. Some further considerations include:
- Purchase food and litter (if required) and set aside enough bottled water to be used specifically for pet needs.
- Set aside carriers and ensure that each pet has its own carrier in an easily reachable location
- Leashes and collars should be purchased, particularly identification collars
- Consider having pets microchipped
- Pets should be up to date on vaccinations
- Keep a current photo of your pet(s)
Do You Have Insurance and How Will it Protect You?
There are many different types and the level of coverage provided depends on the type of policy purchased. Therefore, when choosing flood insurance once should consider the following:
- Flood insurance is added to a regular homeowner’s policy
- The policy should cover the cost to rebuild your entire home
- A hurricane deductible may need to be paid based on a percentage of the value of your home. Take a note of the deductible as there may be a ‘special rate’ and a higher deductible applied
- Hurricane insurance is different from flood insurance, but a hurricane policy will cover water and wind damage provided that it was caused by the hurricane
- Homeowners should be aware of ‘anti-concurrent’ clauses in their policies- This means that if a home is subject to a wind storm (for which they are covered) and then a flood (which they are not), the claim can be denied, even if the wind is what caused damage to the house
- Hurricane insurance is specific to the house and does not apply to vehicles but may include food spoilage if it is considered in the policy
- Determine if the insurance policy you are covered under will cover your home for the type of water damage it may experience. For example, if the policy covers flood, but not overflow/discharge or sewer/water backup, then the claim may be denied
- Renter’s insurance may cover the cost of evacuation, including hotel, airfare and gas
- Insurance companies may suspend the issuance of new policies during and after a storm is due to hit a particular area, so do not wait until a storm is on its way to apply for it!
Where Can You Get Recovery Assistance?
In the aftermath of a hurricane, individuals may find it difficult to recover from its impacts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide relief efforts to help rescue and recover persons, but when the immediate dangers from a storm have subsided, financial relief may be necessary.
Recovery Assistance is provided by visiting FEMA’s Individual Disaster Assistance page or calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 in order to receive financial assistance in the form of tax relief or loans. You may also qualify for D-SNAP, the disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program that can provide families with a debit-type card with one month’s worth benefits to be used for grocery supplies.