Amid a pandemic, the thought of preparing for hurricane season, which begins on June 1st, is almost unimaginable. Early predictions from most reputable scientific institutes suggest we can expect a normal to above-normal hurricane season in 2020. With that in mind, there are some basic actions you can take now to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
Wind, storm surge and wind-driven rain, which are the three main threats of damage from a hurricane, can each cause devastating damage. Therefore, proper preparation includes assessing your home and property for basic vulnerabilities. For starters, consider taking the following important actions:
- Check your roof and siding for any leaks or loose shingles.
- Clean your gutters to make sure they are clean and working properly.
- If you have a basement or lower-level sump pump or French drain, perform a semi-annual operational test.
- If equipped, check the storm shutter bolts to ensure they are not broken or inoperable.
- Check around your home for evidence of improper drainage. Ensure grading or ground around your home is pitched appropriately so that surface water drains away from your home or other structures.
- Remove or prune dead or dying trees and branches. This may require the engagement of a local arborist or tree company.
- Consider the purchase of hurricane supplies for your home and autos, including flood barrier panels, flood bags and custom vehicle bags.
- Have a plan for storing outdoor furniture and other yard décor.
Additionally, you should prepare an overall disaster plan. Below are some considerations:
- Outline an evacuation plan in case you cannot shelter-in-place. Due to pandemic-related concerns, local authorities may have revised their evacuation measures from previous years; thus, check with them first on what to potentially expect this year. And if you need to go to a shelter, try to call ahead to check on availability.
- If you decide to shelter at an available hotel, ask the hotel questions on what it is doing to minimize risk of the continued spread of COVID-19. For example, what precautions is the hotel taking to protect its employees and guests, such as cleaning and social distancing protocols.
- If evacuating, think ahead about your travel and identify urgent care or hospitals on your route, if you or a family member becomes ill. Also, pack food and water, in the case the area you are traveling to has limited stores available.
- As soon as possible, create a first-aid/wellness kit with adequate prescription medications and over-the-counter pain/flu medicines, a thermometer, latex gloves and other supplies. Be sure to add extra masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning products. Likewise, create a to-go bag. Be sure to include a floodlamp flashlight and weather radio. Also, bring an extra cell phone charger and ensure that your contact list is up-to-date.
- If you are unable to evacuate, identify a “shelter” room in your home. This enclosed area should also be on the first floor, in the central part of the house and with no windows. When the storm gets bad, go there.
- Experts warn of the possibility of extended power outages due to COVID-19. Consider purchasing a whole-home, stand-alone generator installed by a licensed contractor. For existing generators, now is the time to do a performance test-run and/or service your generator, if needed. Keep in mind that you may be eligible for a policy premium credit for the purchase of a back-up generator.
- At least annually, consult your independent agent or broker to ensure adequate insurance coverage.
Last, share your plan with your family and other loved ones, and ensure that everyone knows what to do. Remember, we are all in this together, and better times lie ahead.
Suzanne Moyers, CPCU, AIC, is a Risk-Consulting Catastrophe Manager, Chubb Personal Risk Services.