With numerous disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma that struck last year, many homeowners were caught off guard and suffered tremendous losses. In order to be better prepared this season, here are a few guidelines that can serve as a checklist to ensure your home is properly secured in the event that a disaster should strike.
At any time during the year, it is important to review your homeowner’s insurance for types of damage covered and home loss limits and deductibles. It is important to understand that if your home sustains flood damage, most homeowner’s policies do not cover that type of damage; where as flood insurance specific policies will cover the damage. After reviewing insurance coverage, determine where you will go in order to evacuate. It is important to have at least two routes, in case the storms will be heading to your original evacuation destination. Also, consider where you will house your pets when it is time to leave the area.
If you are given the order to evacuate, there are a few steps to take to ensure your property is secured. First, make sure all of your windows and doors are covered with plywood (as thick as possible) and all shutters are fastened tightly. Next, take steps to eliminate possible yard debris by bringing in all outdoor plants, patio furniture, children’s toys and lawn equipment. Inside, collect all rugs and other objects on the ground and relocate them to a higher area in case of flooding. Finally, make sure to unplug all appliances and turn off fuse boxes, water and gas lines. Make sure when you do leave that all locks and bolts to all possible entrances are secured. As you may be on the road for a long time, leave home with cash, clothing, non-perishable food items, water, cell phones, pets and their food and a disaster supply kit.
When it is time to return, check to make sure your neighborhood is safe to enter and downed power lines have been repaired. Upon entering your home, check for damage and document it with photos and in writing. Inspect all items located near the damage to see if they are working properly, if not photograph the items and note them on the damages list. Finally, if your home is in need of urgent repair, take necessary steps such as covering roof with tarps, securing windows and doors to prevent looting and break-ins and make sure structures are safe to reside in before returning.
As tragic as disasters can be, it can be a little less stressful if home preparations are made ahead of time. That way, if a disaster should strike, you can concentrate on your family’s safety, as your home security will be just a checklist away.