New England is certainly no stranger to bad weather. While we’ve sidestepped major hurricanes for some time, there’s no guarantee we’ll remain safe this season. We always need to prepare.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you and your loved ones have what you need in place to stay safe during hurricane season.
Plan for a Major Disaster
Even though we hope it never happens here, you should prepare for a major disaster. The State of Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency recommends three basic steps for hurricane preparedness.
First, create a disaster supply kit and store it in a safe, secure, dry area. It should include non-perishable food, water, personal hygiene items and prescription medicine, a first aid kit, flashlight, radio and batteries as well as your important documents such as your insurance policies and identification. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full, too.
Second, listen to the radio or watch television for the latest news. You can track the hurricane’s progress on the National Hurricane center’s website.
Finally, ensure that you have a plan in place. Start by accessing the elevation of your home and whether you’re on a flood plain. Determine one principle and one alternative evacuation route. Also pinpoint local shelter locations, including places for your pets. Your family should also know where to meet should you become separated.
Prepare Your Home
The roof of your home is very susceptible to high winds and pelting rain, particularly during a hurricane when winds often carry plenty of debris. If you haven’t inspected the roof recently, now’s the time to take care of it.
Climbing onto the roof is dangerous work and best left to the professionals. They have the knowledge, skill, and the equipment needed to do the work properly.
However, some jobs are easily within the scope of most homeowners. These include sealing holes around doors and windows and wherever the trades have penetrated the exterior of your home.
Windows should be boarded up with plywood or covered by shutters. The National Hurricane Center provides detailed instructions on how to do this properly. Don’t forget to install barrel bolts that slide into the floor and header and brace the garage door, too.
Other Exterior Preparations
Hurricane winds can tear off a porch or carport or blow away a shed like a matchstick if these items aren’t properly anchored, preferably into concrete. Air conditioners and condensers need to be well-protected and secured with hurricane straps.
Also secure any loose items in the yard such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, and your grill as they can become deadly projectiles in hurricane-force winds. Trim any dead branches off trees and shrubs as soon as you notice them.
Create a Home Inventory
We can’t stress this enough as a home inventory will be your most important document besides your insurance policy should you experience a loss. If you do not have a record of what you own you may not realize what you’ve lost, making it very difficult to substantiate a claim.
You can even use one of the many available app to simplify the process, take photos, and store vital information.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
Many homeowners do not realize that flooding is not covered under a standard Rhode Island homeowners insurance policy. Your agent can source a flood insurance policy for you through the National Flood Insurance Program. These policies have a 30-day waiting period, so it isn’t something you ignore until a hurricane is on your doorstep. Your agent may also recommend additional coverage through a private insurer if the NFIP policy doesn’t protect you adequately.
Being properly prepared helps mitigate loss, but if you need to file a claim, we’re here for you. If you’d like us to review your existing homeowners insurance policy, or if you’d like a quote for a new policy, call, text, or email our office and someone from our team will be glad to assist you.