Friday, September 19, 2014

5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

Now is the time to get your home ready for storm season. Here is what you need to know.
My alma mater, University of Miami–home of the Hurricanes, taught me a lot about tropical weather. After 2 severe storms hit the Miami area only weeks after I moved into the Freshman dorms, I knew I wasn’t in Jersey anymore. Since then, I’ve lived through several hurricanes, a few tropical storms and one unforgettable ‘Super Storm Sandy.’
As a ‘Cane, I know that the key to making it through hurricane season is being aware and prepared. First, it’s important to know that Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1st and ends November 30th, with most activity peaking from mid-August to early October. While the majority of Atlantic activity happens in the Southeastern U.S., many of us in the Northeast remember all too well that we’re not immune to these natural disasters. So, now is the time to get your home ready for storm season.
Here are 5 ways to prepare your home for hurricane season:
1.  Keep an Emergency Kit – Packing an emergency kit can sometimes feel over-cautious, but when a big storm strikes, you’ll be happy you did. Compile a hurricane emergency kit complete with:
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
(list from ready.gov)
2. Get Cash and Gas (early) – Should the power go out in your area, ATMs and gas pumps are no longer functional. We quickly realize the vitality of two things we take for granted in our everyday lives. To avoid long gas lines or running out of liquidity while power lines are down, get to the ATM and gas station before the storm (and before the crowds).
3. Know your home – Do your research ahead of time to determine if you live in an evacuation zone. You might be surprised (like those in downtown Manhattan) to find that your home is in a flood zone.
Also, because standard home insurance does not cover flood damage, it is also important to know if you live in a flood-prone area. Visit the National Flood Insurance Program website to learn more about obtaining flood insurance for your property. Ready.gov has some great information about which natural disasters different parts of the country should be prepared for.
4. Protect your home – Dorothy may have coined the phrase, “there’s no place like home” for the tornado belt, but it applies to hurricane protection just as well. Of course, for your own safety, it is important to yield to all warnings and mandates for evacuation; however, there are things you can do to protect your home from the elements. Home hurricane protection doesn’t just have to mean tape or plywood over the windows. Companies like Alutech United offer more comprehensive storm protection options like roller hurricane shutters, designed to fit seamlessly with your home’s aesthetic and built to withstand 140 mph hurricane force winds. If you live in an area with frequent inclement weather, storm protection can be a necessity. Some also opt to install roller shudders for the added privacy and protection they provide.
5. Prepare a Family Emergency Plan – For those who live in low-lying, coastal, or flood-prone areas, consider where you’ll go if evacuation is mandated. While most towns have designated safe places should natural disaster strike, it is always a good idea to have a family emergency plan of your own.
The Red Cross has created a great hurricane preparedness checklist that you can use to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases (and windows).

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