With severe weather events becoming more frequent and intense, it’s important to take the necessary steps today to protect your home and loved ones.
By taking the time to prepare in advance, you can help minimize the impact of severe weather on your home and give yourself peace of mind knowing you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.
Call or Meet with Your Insurance Agent
One of the most important steps in preparing for severe weather is to meet with or call your insurance agent. This will ensure you understand the coverage provided by your insurance policy and you have the appropriate protection in place.
Your insurance agent can review your policy and determine if have enough coverage for your home, personal property and liability. They can also help you understand the specific perils that are covered in your area and any deductibles or limitations that apply.
Additionally, they can also advise you on what steps you can take to mitigate the risk of damage and help you get the most out of your policy.
Document Everything in Your Home, Inside and Out
Take photos or videos of the interior and exterior of your home, as well as all of your personal belongings. This documentation will allow you to provide your insurance company with an accurate inventory of your personal property.
Start by taking pictures or videos of every room and all of your belongings, including furniture, appliances, electronics, and personal items. Note serial numbers, brands, and models of your appliances and electronics as well.
Store these pictures and videos in a cloud-based storage or an external hard drive. This way you can easily access them if needed.
It’s also a good idea to keep important documents such as insurance policies, warranties, and mortgage papers in a safe and easily accessible location.
Create a Disaster Supply Kit
A disaster supply kit should include enough supplies to last for at least three to five days in case you can’t leave your home to get supplies. Some essential items to include are:
- Water: At least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation
- Food: Non-perishable food items that can be easily prepared, like canned goods, granola bars, and dried fruit
- Manual can opener for opening canned goods
- Utensils: Plates, cups, and utensils for eating and cooking
- Clothing: Extra clothing and shoes for each member of your family
- First aid kit, including bandages, gauze, pain relievers, and other essential items
- Prescriptions: Make sure you have an adequate supply of any medications you or your family members take
- Battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries
- Pet supplies: Include enough food, water, and any necessary medications for your pets
- Toiletries: Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, toilet paper, and other essentials
- Cell phone charger and extra charging block
- Cash: Keep some cash on hand, in case the power is out and you can’t use credit cards
- Keys for your car, house, and any other important locks
- Games, toys, books for entertainment and to keep kids occupied
- Important documents: Keep copies of important documents such as insurance policies, identification, and mortgage papers in a waterproof and easily accessible location
- Wrench, pliers: These can be handy for turning off utilities in case of emergency
- Know where the cutoffs are: Know where the main gas, water and electric cutoffs are located in your home
- Radio: A battery-powered radio can be useful for getting emergency information during a power outage.
Update your disaster supply kit regularly and make sure it’s in an easily accessible location when severe weather strikes.
Have a Family Plan
Make the process of creating a plan fun and interactive, while still taking the potential dangers seriously. Here are some key elements to include in your family plan:
- Locate the safest place in your home. This could be a basement, an interior room on the ground floor, or a storm shelter. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to go in case of an emergency.
- Go over escape routes: It’s important to have multiple ways to exit your home in case of an emergency. Make sure everyone knows the best routes to take, and ensure that all doors and windows can be easily opened.
- Have an out-of-state family member who is a point of contact. Choose a family member or friend who lives out of state and make sure that everyone in your family knows how to reach them. In case of an emergency, it’s often easier to get through to someone who lives out of the affected area.
- Make it fun. Make sure to include your kids, play games, and practice different scenarios so that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
- Have a plan for your pets. Make sure to include plans for your pets, such as where they will be taken in case of an emergency and how they will be taken care of.
- Go over the plan regularly. Make sure to review and update your plan regularly, and make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
Fill Up Your Gas Tank and Know Evacuation Routes
If severe weather is heading your way, fill up your gas tank in case you need to evacuate, and know the evacuation routes in your area. This can help ensure that you have a safe and efficient way to leave if necessary.
Have a plan on where you will go if you need to evacuate, whether it’s a designated shelter or a friend or family member’s house in a safer area. Make sure to have a list of important phone numbers, including emergency contacts and hotels, in case you need to find lodging.
Flooding and downed power lines on the roads can make some roads impassable. Regularly check the local news and weather reports for the latest information on road closures and detours. Plan multiple routes in case your primary route is blocked.
Secure Your Home
Here are a few things you can do to protect your home and property:
- Lock windows. Make sure all windows and doors are locked to prevent wind and water damage.
- Secure lawn furniture. Bring in any loose items such as lawn furniture, umbrellas, and trash cans that could be picked up by strong winds and cause damage to your home or your neighbors.
- Take perishable food with you. If you are planning to evacuate, be sure to take any perishable food items with you. If you can’t evacuate, store perishable food in a cooler with ice packs to keep it fresh longer.
- Clear gutters and downspouts. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris to prevent water damage to your home.
- Secure your garage. If you have a garage, be sure to secure it by closing the door and locking it. This can prevent wind and water damage to your vehicles and any other items stored in the garage.
- Shut off the utilities. Know where the main gas, water, and electric cutoffs are located in your home and how to turn them off in case of an emergency.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Severe weather can quickly turn into an emergency and by waiting to take action, you may find yourself in a situation where it’s too late to properly protect your home and your family. It’s always better to be proactive and take steps today to prepare well in advance of a storm.