Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

Hurricane preparation step-by-step: What to do as a storm approaches

A checklist insurance agents and brokers can share with clients in areas at risk for hurricane impact

Steve Leibowitz works on his hurricane shutter at his home as he prepares for Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Key Largo, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Steve Leibowitz works on his hurricane shutter at his home as he prepares for Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Key Largo, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

As a potentially catastrophic hurricane threatens the United States, what actions should property owners in the predicted path of the storm take to prepare?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides invaluable advice on what you should do when you recevie a hurricane watch (conditions possible within the next 48 hours) or hurricane warning (conditions are expected within 36 hours) alert from the National Weather Service for your area.

As the hurricane approaches, here's a checklist of what to do as the storm approaches, broken down by hours: 

What to do when a hurricane is 48 hours from arriving

  • Review your evacuation route(s) & listen to local officials.

  • Review the items in your disaster supply kit; and add items to meet the household needs for children, parents, individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs or pets.

Related: Personal emergency preparedness: Are your clients really ready?

What to do when a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving

  • Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.

  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

  • Follow this hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.
  • Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.

  • Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

Related: Disaster preparedness tips for homeowners

Couple load plywood on the roof of their vehicle as they prepare for Hurricane Irma

Alex, left, and Cynthia Stone, of Maitland, Fla. load plywood on the roof of their vehicle as they prepare for Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Throughout Florida, officials and residents are making preparations, but forecasts indicate the Keys could take the country's first blow from the Category 5 storm. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

What to do when a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving

  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.

  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.

  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

Related: Is your business ready for a disaster? Here are 4 ways to make sure

What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving

  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

  • Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

What to do when a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving

  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.

  • Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.

  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.

  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

After a hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.

  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.

  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.

  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

  • Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.

  • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.

  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

Related:

Are your customers prepared to weather the pitfalls of hurricane season?

Severe weather season means planning for CATS and dogs

Helping homeowners recover after natural disasters

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