The average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes and three become major (category 3-5) hurricanes. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, the 2020 season is projected to be busier than normal.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic only complicates matters. More than ever, homeowners must be vigilant in all aspects of hurricane preparation. Here are some tips to stay safe this season.
Prepare Your Home
You can’t stop a hurricane, but there are steps you can take to reduce damage to your home. For example:
- Bring your patio furniture and other loose objects inside
- Move furniture and valuables from the basement to higher floors in case of flooding
- Hurricane-proof your windows by shielding them with plywood or adding storm shutters
- Fill sinks, bathtubs, and plastic bottles with clean water for flushing toilets, washing clothes, and cleaning floors (in case your water supply is cut off)
- Place sandbags across doorways and over drainage holes to reduce the amount of water entering your property
- Unplug small appliances and propane tanks
Prepare a Disaster Kit
Think about what items you’ll need if you’re forced to evacuate, then place them in a backpack or duffel bag. This might include a first aid kit, medication (a week’s worth if possible), water, food, cash, ID cards, pet food and supplies, flashlights, and batteries.
In addition, make arrangements for a place to stay, create a plan for communicating with loved ones, and check the local news often for updates on the storm’s trajectory.
Protect Your Insurance Claim
Ensure that you’re protected with the appropriate insurance policies. Most homeowners insurance policies cover damage from wind but not water. Therefore, it’s likely necessary to purchase a flood insurance policy. Also be sure to look into your deductible, as you’ll want to know how much you are expected to cover before your policies kick in.
In addition, photograph your property before and after the storm hits. Take wide and close-up shots of the interior and exterior. These will serve as evidence of the damage to your property.
Make Adjustments For COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that planning for hurricane season “may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.” They advise:
- Giving yourself more time than normal to prepare your emergency supplies
- Taking advantage of home delivery for food, water, medicine, and other essentials
- Limiting in-person visits to the pharmacy by signing up for mail order delivery or calling in prescriptions ahead of time
- Preparing a “go kit” with essential items including hand sanitizer or an alternative such as liquid soap
- Staying alert to local guidance about evacuation plans
- Following social distancing recommendations when checking on family and friends
- Following CDC health and safety guidelines if you need to visit a public disaster shelter
For more information about hurricane preparation and what to do after you’ve sustained damage to your property, click here.
Written by Lara Harper