When you own a home located along the ocean or a bay, or in a coastal county, it’s not a question of if your property will be impacted by a hurricane, but when. That said, there are preventative measures to take to protect your family, home and possessions. Preparing for a storm can make the difference between minor damage and catastrophic loss.
UNDERSTAND INSURANCE COVERAGE
Understanding the level of protection your insurance policy offers before a storm surge, hurricane or flooding hits is critical. Work with your insurance advisor to make sure you are comfortable with the depth of coverage your policy affords. Policies may include wind exclusions, or if wind coverage is included, a special hurricane deductible. Policies do not always cover losses due to flooding, so work with your advisor to secure this important coverage.
It is not a question of if your property will be impacted by a hurricane, but when.
PREPARE FOR HURRICANE SEASON
In advance of hurricane season, there are proven methods to strengthen your home’s exterior. Prevent wind and debris from tearing through any openings with these measures:
- Confirm that storm shutters protect all openings. Windows, skylights and French sliding-glass doors and garage doors are all vulnerable to high winds due to their size, so pay special attention to protecting them. French doors need at least three hinges on each door and fastening bolts that lock the doors together. Doors should open outward to resist strong winds. Replace sliding-glass doors with an impact-resistant door system. Reinforce garage doors with structural ribs and a heavy-duty track system designed to withstand high winds.
- Replace standard windows with impact-resistant window systems. Such systems can withstand direct impact by wind-borne objects, unlike standard glass doors, which are easily penetrated by debris. Impact-resistant window systems are also permanent and do not require installation when a storm is approaching.
- Check the caulking around windows and doors to ensure no deterioration has occurred. This helps prevent wind-driven rain from entering your home.
- Maintain a relationship with your contractor/ roofer to facilitate a prompt response after a hurricane, when such professionals are in high demand.
- Prepare an emergency supply kit in a watertight container.
PROTECT YOUR FAMILY AND POSSESSIONS
Once a hurricane is forecast, ensure that all storm shutters are installed and your garage door secured. Move possessions to the center of your home away from windows and elevate them against flooding. Store important documents in a plastic container in a secure location for access after the storm. Discuss your plans with family members, making sure children know how and when to call 911. Determine a safe area in your home or outside where you can go during the hurricane; and remember to plan for your pets should you need to evacuate.
Move fast after the storm. Hopefully your home will be intact, thanks to your diligence. If you do discover flooding, contact a restoration company immediately to begin water extraction. Remove wet items to the garage. Run the air conditioner to dehumidify the home. And of course, contact your insurance advisor to report damage to the home or your possessions from the storm.
This article was originally published in the June/July 2016 issue of Worth.