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How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Hurricane Damage

 

Precautionary measures can temper the ravages of these destructive storms

 

Hurricanes can shatter lives as well as damage property. Being prepared can help you, your family or your business minimize the impact of the storm. The best way time to start is before the threat is imminent. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t wait until a hurricane watch is issued, because it may already be too late to take certain precautions. Reduce property damage and get through any hurricane emergency with less stress by preparing before the season begins.

1. Plan your evacuation route well ahead of time

If you live on the coast or in a mobile home, 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, make sure to take important papers and make a trial run.

2. 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 having the following on hand:

  • Extra batteries
  • 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
  • Food that you don’t have to refrigerate or cook
  • First aid supplies
  • A portable NOAA weather radio
  • A wrench and other basic tools
  • A flashlight

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.

3. 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.

4. Review your insurance policies

This hurricane season insurance checklist can help you to understand your coverage and whether it’s adequate to repair or rebuild your home, if necessary, and to replace your belongings

Keep in mind that your homeowners insurance covers the cost of temporary repairs for hurricane damage, as well as reasonable additional living expenses (ALE) over and above your normal living expenses if you have to relocate (such as the extra expense of getting to work or to school if your temporary home is in a different community).

However, your homeowners policy doesn’t cover flood damage, so you may want to consider looking into flood insurance. If you live by the coast, you may also need a separate policy for protection against wind and wind-blown water damage.

If you have questions about what your current policy will cover or need to augment your current coverage, contact your insurance professional.

5. Take steps to protect your home

Hurricane force winds can turn landscaping materials into missiles that can break windows and doors and 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. These types of 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.
  • 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.
  • If you have a boat on a trailer, know how to anchor the trailer to the ground or house—and review your boat insurance policy.

6. Take steps to protect your business

Hurricanes take a toll on businesses, too so be prepared.

  • Keep contact information for employees, suppliers and vendors current so you can check on their wellbeing and communicate next steps for resuming normal business operations.
  • Review your business insurance policies in order to understand what’s covered.

For more preparedness tips, handy checklists (including ones you can personalize yourself) and evacuation planning advice to cover a variety of disasters, get the I.I.I.’s Know Your Plan app. It’s a great tool to help get you and your family—including pets—organized and ready to act more quickly if an emergency strikes.

State Fire Marshal: Don’t Give Fire Safety A Summer Vacation

 

NASHVILLE – With the arrival of summer, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Tennesseans to not send fire safety on vacation this year. Although summer in Tennessee has not proven to be as deadly as winter, historical fire data gathered from Tennessee fire departments reveals that summertime brings the Volunteer State its own set of fire-related dangers. For example:

  • The second week of July—which includes the Fourth of July weekend—is the most dangerous week of the summer when it comes to structure fires. While some of the risk can be attributed to an increase in fireworks-related fires, other summer-related activities like outdoor grilling, camping, and lawn care also contribute to inherent fire risk.
  • Over the last five years, Tennessee fire departments have reported an increase in certain types of equipment-related structure fires during the summer months. Air-conditioning units and outdoor grills are twice as likely to cause fires, while lawnmowers are three times as likely.
  • The third week of June is the second most dangerous week of the summer when it comes to structure fires, in part due to an increase in air conditioning related fires.

“I urge Tennesseans to take fire safety seriously this summer in order to better protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property,” said State Fire Marshal and Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “In addition to staying hydrated and checking on elderly neighbors during the hot summer days ahead, I also urge Tennesseans to leave fireworks to the experts and always use caution when grilling outdoors.”

To help Tennesseans stay safe this summer, the SFMO shares the following summer fire safety tips:

Around the House

  • Remove leaves and trash from carports and garages as combustible materials are dangerous if exposed to heated automobile or lawn care equipment components, especially those on the underside of the vehicle or lawn mower.
  • Never refuel a lawn mower while it’s still hot.
  • Always let lawn mowers and other gas-powered equipment cool down before storing them inside.
  • Check gasoline containers for leaks. Never bring gasoline indoors, even in small amounts. Store gas containers in an outbuilding, detached garage, or a shed outdoors.
  • Use gasoline only as motor fuel, never as a cleaner.
  • Rags that have been used to clean up spills of combustible or flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint thinner, oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes can start a fire if not handled with care. Never leave these cleaning rags in a pile. Take them outside to dry, then place the dried rags in a tightly-covered metal container filled with water and detergent solution to break down the oils.
  • Lit citronella candles and torches should be placed outside out the reach of children and well away from flammable materials such as overhangs or branches. Ensure flames are completely extinguished before leaving the area or going to bed.
  • Always observe burn bans and check with your local and state authorities on outdoor burning regulations.
  • Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in sleeping areas and on every level of the house.
  • Practice a home fire escape plan with all occupants that includes two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place.

Out and About

  • Choose a hotel or vacation rental that is equipped with both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers.
  • If you are going on a trip, turn off or unplug unnecessary appliances and electronics before you leave the house.
  • Never throw lit cigarettes out of a car as they have potential to ignite dry vegetation and other combustible materials.
  • Build campfires at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs or other materials that burn. Never leave the camping area without putting out the campfire.
  • Ensure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed inside vacation rental homes, campers, and RVs.
  • To prevent injury, consider attending a public fireworks display instead of setting off your own. Children should not handle or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.

To avoid the dangers of electric shock drowning, make sure children and loved ones understand the importance of not swimming anywhere there could be electricity, such as marinas and boatyards. The SFMO has recently completed an inspection of Tennessee’s public marinas and docks.