Encourage your customers to avoid waiting till an impending storm to start preparations. A storm warning is issued when storm conditions are expected in a specified area in 24 hours or less. This may not give adequate time to get started on preparations. Here are some steps you can encourage your customers to achieve during the hurricane season:
- Plan your evacuation route well ahead of time
If you live near the coast or in low lying areas, you may have to evacuate in the event of a major storm. While you’ll no doubt get instructions from the local government, it’s wise to create your evacuation plan well before a disaster strikes. This way, you can know ahead of time about the nearest shelters. Take your pets into account in your plan and make sure to take important documents with you. Doing a trial run might also be necessary if you are unfamiliar with the area.
- Keep non-perishable emergency supplies on hand
When a hurricane warning is issued, people run for the stores. As much as possible, get ahead of the rush by having the following on hand:
- Candles or lamps with fuel
- Matches (keep these dry)
- Materials and tools for emergency home repairs–such as heavy plastic sheeting, plywood, a hammer, etc.
- Prescription drugs
- A three-day supply of drinking water / a gallon of water per day for each person
- Food that you don’t have to refrigerate or cook and a can opener
- First aid supplies
- A portable battery powered radio
- A wrench and other basic tools
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- Cell phone chargers / portable power banks
If you need to evacuate, you’ll bring these supplies with you. As expirations dates approach (for example, food or batteries), use the items and replenish your emergency stash.
- Take an inventory of your personal property
Creating a home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process, substantiate losses for income tax purposes and is helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid. In the event you need to evacuate, be sure your home inventory is among the important documents you take with you.
- Take steps to protect your home
Hurricane force winds can turn landscaping materials into missiles that can break windows and doors. Much of the property damage associated with hurricanes occurs after the windstorm when rain enters structures through broken windows, doors and openings in the roof. While retrofitting your home to protect against these possibilities is undoubtedly an expense, you can do it in stages.
- Replace gravel or rock landscaping materials with shredded bark, which is lighter and won’t cause as much harm.
- Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed.
- Install storm shutters to protect your windows from breakage. Alternately, fit plywood panels to your windows, which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.
- Make sure exterior doors are hurricane proof and have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one inch long.
- Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood. Sliding glass doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.
- Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through an opening this large, poses grave problems for the rest of your home—especially your roof.
- Another easy step is to make sure rain gutters are fixed in place and free of debris.
- Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall. Use a high-quality urethane-based caulk to prevent water penetration.
Here is an idea of the potential damage that can be anticipated at each category of hurricane:
Category 1 (74-95 mph / 119-153 km/h): Minimal damage, with some roof leakage, gutter damage, snapped tree branches and toppled trees with shallow roots
Category 2 (96-110 mph / 154-177km/h): Moderate damage, with major roof and siding damage; uprooted trees could block roads; power loss possible for days to weeks
Category 3 (111-129 mph / 178-208 km/h): Devastating damage, with roof damage, many more uprooted trees and extended power outages
Category 4 (130-156 mph / 209-251 km/h): Catastrophic damage; roofs and exterior walls will be destroyed; trees will snap; power outages for weeks to months. Large area uninhabitable for weeks or months
Category 5 (157 or higher / 252 km/h or higher): High fraction of framed houses will be destroyed; power outages for weeks to months; and huge swaths uninhabitable for same period