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Hurricane Season. Be prepared!

It’s the hurricane season. Be prepared!

A hurricane is a severe tropical cyclone. Every year, an average of 11 tropical storms occur, and 6 of these become hurricanes. A hurricane often causes devastating damage to coastlines and can travel hundreds of miles inland. If you live in the Caribbean, you need to know how to prepare for a hurricane.

Your home is one of your largest investments, so protecting it from natural disasters is probably one of your top priorities.

Hurricane threats should be taken seriously.  As history has proven, significant damage resulting from wind and flooding can be catastrophic.

Insurance

Take time each year to make sure your insurance policy will cover the full cost of rebuilding if you lose your home in a storm. A lot of people insure their home to what the value of the home is, but maybe the cost to rebuild is more. Building costs are always on the rise, so you want to make sure you’ll have enough to rebuild if necessary.

Take an inventory of your property. Survey your home and tally your possessions each year, so you know exactly what you need to replace and how much it’s worth. If you live in a flood zone, consider investing in flood insurance. Your homeowner’s policy usually won’t cover damage caused by hurricane-related floods.

If you don’t already have contents insurance coverage, speak to your agent about the benefits of including it in your policy.

Make a complete list of all your possessions, including outdoor items. List lawn furniture, patio umbrellas, grills, tools and toys. This can help your insurance broker ensure you have enough insurance to replace any damaged items after a hurricane.

Home Exterior

Confirm that your hurricane shutters are in good condition. If you do not have hurricane shutters, consider installing them. You can also replace your windows with hurricane glass. Both will provide protection from shattering glass during strong winds. There is also an option of boarding up windows and doors with plywood, to protect them from storm force winds.

Determine whether you need to replace your roof with a hip roof. This style of roof has a 30-degree pitch or less. On older homes, retrofit existing roofs with hurricane straps, gables, and end brackets or braces. Check the seals around your windows and doors. Normal weather — especially in hot climates can damage seals over time, allowing sideways-blowing rain to get in during a storm.

Check your gutters to be sure they are clear of leaves and other debris to prepare for hurricanes. Clean gutters can prevent damage to your home during long periods of heavy rain.

Remove dead or damaged trees, especially those near the house. Pick up and dispose of all limbs, sticks and other debris on or near your property. Items like these can become airborne during high winds.

Make sure you’re not creating missiles by leaving things lying around in your yard. Any items that can be picked up by strong winds — your grill, lawn furniture, garden gnomes and other items should be stored indoors or secured to the ground.

Home Interior

Put together supplies to prepare for hurricanes. You won’t always have time to buy items before a hurricane strikes, especially when the storm is imminent, so you’ll want to store the necessary items in your home well in advance.

Purchase or create a food kit. This should include dried foods, and non-perishable foods. Include a manual can opener and any other supplies you might want to use to prepare food in the event you lose power and access to supplies for an extended period of time.

Prepare for hurricanes with a supply of drinking water. You should have bottled water on hand. Some people will clean and rinse their bathtubs, buckets, and other containers and fill them with tap water to use as additional drinking water during a hurricane. Check your storage tanks and water pumps. If you don’t already own a water storage tank, its a good time to invest in one.

Collect all valuables and paperwork, and store these in waterproof containers or a safe. Have a radio that can work with battery power so you can monitor the storm and keep up with the latest hurricane advisories. You may also want a first aid kit, extra batteries and a flashlight.

Prepare an overnight bag for each family member, in case your family needs to evacuate. Don’t forget to include prescription medications, and a fair amount of cash.

Pets

Check with family and friends who are not in the path of the storm to see if they can keep your pets. You can also check with specialized pet shelters, veterinary clinics or animal control shelters. Have a current photo of all pets in case they get lost during the storm. Make sure they are wearing a collar that has all of their current identification on it.

You should prepare an emergency pet supply kit so it will be ready in an emergency. The kit should contain a pet carrier for each animal, identification, immunization records, medication, supply of food and water, a muzzle, collar and leash. Make sure to mark all of the supplies with your pets identification information.

When severe weather threatens, bring your pets inside well before the storm begins. Remain calm, and calm your pets if they become agitated. Once the storm has passed, you should walk all pets on a leash until they are able to reorient themselves. This will also help keep them safe from hazards such as downed power lines, debris and reptiles that may have been brought in by high water.

Hurricanes cause severe damage and even destroy many homes each season. Fortunately, a little preparation can make the difference between losing a home and keeping it safe. Be informed this hurricane season, and be proactive when it comes to safety and security.