Protect your home and property so you’re ready for anything
Whether it’s a Tropical Storm or Category 5, preparing for a storm is imperative for the safety of you and your loved ones. Proper preparation can also reduce the risk of home and property damage. Consider the following tips as soon as you know a big storm is headed your way.
Know Your Evacuation Zone
Evacuation zones are areas where storm surge may go. Your zone will tell you the likelihood of being affected by storm surge and if you should evacuate. If you don’t know what zone you are in, contact your local government-emergency management office, or search for your Evacuation Zone.
Remember there is a window of time in which it is safe to evacuate. Decide if you will evacuate or stay well before the storm reaches you. Unless otherwise instructed by emergency responders, do not attempt to travel during the storm.
Know Your Risks
How vulnerable is your property to flooding from storm surge? Homes with higher elevation are less likely to be impacted by storm surge. Search your address in FEMA’s Preliminary Flood Hazard Map. If the preliminary data search tool is unavailable, please visit the alternate site to view your data. Learn more about the hazards of Storm Surge.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
Do you know your deductible and policy number? Contact your agent to make sure that your policy is current, and payments are up to date. Make sure you have notified your agent of any changes or renovations that have been made to your home.
Obtain a digital copy of your policy from your agent. Know your coverage and deductibles. For example, are you covered in the event of a flood? Do you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property? Due to coverage limitations on jewelry, works of art, and some other content categories, it is recommended you speak with your agent regarding scheduling high-end items to ensure they have adequate coverage.
Create a handy reference sheet with your policy information in the event your property is damaged during the storm including your agent’s name and phone number, best way to file a claim, and your policy number.
Take a Personal Inventory of Your Home and Major Possessions
Take photographs and/or a short video of all areas of the home (inside and outside) including its contents and create an inventory list. Store contents in structurally sound, waterproof containers to help reduce the likelihood of damage. Make sure photos are time-stamped or include the current newspaper in the photo for time stamping. This will help during the claim process.
Develop a Family Emergency Plan
Before the storm occurs, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will stay in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. Document and keep a copy of this plan in your Hurricane Supply Kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster.
A great resource to help you formulate your plan is the Ready.Gov emergency plan page.
Create a list of emergency phone numbers (doctor, veterinarian, animal shelters, Red Cross, etc.) to include in your emergency plan.
If your home does not have a safe space for individuals to be during the hurricane, make different living accommodations to ensure safety. Homes with higher elevation are less prone to be impacted by storm surge.
Prepare a Hurricane Supply Kit
Gather personal hurricane supplies such as water, non-perishable food, batteries, radio, flashlight, and first-aid kit. Refer to the American Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Checklist for a list of recommended items. Be sure to include your personal “must-haves” in case you need to evacuate.
- Keep your kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly.
- Make sure all household members know where the kit is kept.
- Store a reserve supply of drinking/washing water in clean bathtubs, containers, and non-breakable bottles.
- Place valuables and important documents in a plastic bag or waterproof container and store them at the highest level in your home.
- Buy extra supplies in case of unexpected damages during the storm and keep your car’s gas tanks as full as possible.
Secure the Outside of Your Home
- If you don’t have storm shutters, board up all vulnerable accesses such as doors, windows, and garage doors.
- Prior to every storm season hire a professional tree service to trim all trees that are near or hanging over your home.
- Bring in outdoor hanging and potted plants and objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools; anchor objects that cannot be brought inside. It is not recommended that you throw outdoor furniture into your pool- this practice can damage both your furniture and pool.
Get Your Guide
You may have limited Internet access during and after a storm. Download the American Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Checklist to read this valuable information offline.