Once we reach June, we’re in hurricane season until November 30. We watch the storms develop out in the Gulf or Atlantic and track the names through the alphabet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) highlighted 2020 and 2021 as record-setting—”the first time … that two consecutive hurricane seasons exhausted the list of 21 storm names.” While communities still struggle to recover from Hurricane Ida, forecasts warn of yet another stormy season. The time for preparing for a hurricane is now.
- Create an emergency plan. If you find that your home is in the path of a hurricane, many choices may suddenly be made for you—the call to evacuate, for example. To respond appropriately, however, you’ll need to craft a plan well in advance. The plan should account for how you’ll handle staying in place versus what needs to be done if you must leave.
The State of Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has created an online Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide that addresses the recommended hurricane-specific preparations and actions for our state—everything from hurricane terminology, evacuation phases and emergency shelter information points to contraflow route information and evacuation maps, NOAA radio frequencies and points of contact for Louisiana parishes. It’s a great reference document to help you craft your own emergency plan.
- Share the plan with your family. If everyone in your family knows that you have a plan in place and understands their roles within that plan, they’re much more likely to remain calm, know what they need to do and do it when an event happens. Even the youngest members of a household can benefit from knowing that while a hurricane is a very real possible danger, practicing certain actions and knowing where certain supplies are can help keep everyone safe.
- Protect your property. An annual inspection of your home’s exterior can alert you to any maintenance and repair issues that could prove disastrous in a hurricane. Vital areas to check are the roof, exterior cladding, windows and doors, and foundation drainage, for example. Any flaw can represent an entry point for water or a latch point for wind.
You’ll also want to keep plywood sheathing or shutters on hand to cover windows and doors if a hurricane is on its way. With the lumber industry already experiencing shortages, waiting until the last minute really isn’t an option. Have panels cut, fitted, and stored in a ready location. Pull vehicles into a garage or outbuilding if possible.
Inside your home, you’ll want to be ready to turn off power and utilities if necessary. You may also want to raise or secure valuable items that you can’t take with you.
Outside, high winds can turn any object into a missile with tremendous impact. Lawn furniture, umbrellas and temporary pavilions, toys, tools, garbage cans, and even flowerpots should be cleared and secured. Likewise, dead wood on trees or overhanging tree limbs can prove hazardous.
- Protect your personal information and valuable documents. You and the members of your family will all need to carry identification and keep it secure if you must evacuate. Children should have identifying information on their person in case you become separated.
Beyond that, you’ll want to ensure that your personal, family, financial, and legal documents are safe. Experts recommend keeping copies in a secure location within your home while storing originals in a safety deposit box, for example, and electronic backup copies through an online storage service.
To ensure you’ll have access when you need it, keys, passwords, and inventories will also require protection.
- Make a disaster kit. At a minimum, experts recommend keeping enough non-perishable food and potable water to last each person in a home for three days. Remember that canned goods will require a manual can opener. For water, the standard is one gallon per person per day. If you have small children or individuals with health concerns, you may need more. A common recommendation is to also clean and fill bathtubs, sinks or buckets with usable water. If you have a deep freezer, make space to keep bagged ice on hand.
You’ll also need a fully stocked first aid kit as well as reliable power supplies, batteries, flashlights, and gasoline. Ensure that tools, cleaning supplies, and paper products are handy.
If you have pets or domestic animals, you’ll need to set aside provisions for them and make special advance arrangements for their safe evacuation as well.
- Make sure that your home is fully insured. Each year, you need to review your homeowners’ insurance policies to ensure that your property and its contents are fully insured for the current replacement value.
- Current replacement value coverage will reimburse you what it would cost to replace what you have with new—what it would currently cost to build a home just like yours, for example.
- Cash value coverage will reimburse you what your home or property is worth and takes into account depreciation—often yielding a figure that is less than what’s needed to purchase a new one.
While most policies cover damages caused by natural disasters, some extreme weather conditions may be excluded, some geographic areas may have restrictions, and some coverages may require separate riders or even policies. In particular, damages from flooding require separate flood insurance policies that specifically address water damage to a home and its contents. Flooding includes events like hurricane storm surges, high tides, heavy rain and other natural conditions that lead to flooding. Flood insurance is administered through the National Flood Insurance Program and issued through accredited private insurers. If you live in or near a flood zone, your mortgage lender may require that you carry flood insurance on the property.
At Dwight Andrus Insurance, we offer tailored insurance solutions so you have peace of mind when disaster strikes. From homeowners’ insurance to flood, dwelling, and inland marine options, we can provide the most complete coverage at the best price for you.
Looking for more extensive coverage options? Learn more about our customized private client insurance for individuals of high net worth.
Louisiana has 7,721 miles of coastline—ranking third in the country only behind Alaska and Florida. Water and hurricane season are simply facts of life here, and preparing for a hurricane can mean everything.
If you’d like more information on how to protect your home and other assets from extreme weather—or any of the other many challenges we face every day—reach out to the residential insurance specialists at Dwight Andrus Insurance. Let us help you create a custom homeowners insurance policy that will put your mind at ease and protect the quality of life that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.