Here in Houston, Texas we have had our fair share of hurricane’s, most recently Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey Crippled the state of Texas especially the counties and cities located in the Hurricane zone and evacuation areas in the storms path. A record number of homes and structures were decimated by the wind, rain, and storm surge caused by the storm. Harvey left a path of destruction that left the state of Texas in partial ruin and with costly repairs and improvements that are still being conducted to this day.
When determining risk, the first step should be to concentrate on the news and determine the forecast of the storm. Hurricanes are very unpredictable and have been known to change course and intensity with little warning. Being up to date on any changes can be the difference in how much time you have to get your plan in place and execute by means of evacuation. The NOAA is a great start to get any information on a tropical storm/depression or Hurricane.
Hurricanes can reach hundreds of miles inland and should not be underestimated. If there is a call for a evacuation, its best that you consider what can be lost and rebuilt or bought, and what can not be replaced. These will be decisions you will be left to make, and safety for you and your loved ones should always be considered first.
Planning for Evacuation
Developing a plan for evacuation should be done before any hurricane or storm has developed, especially if you live in a Hurricane prone area such as Houston. Hurricanes can be very unpredictable and the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out what evacuation route/plan you will take while you are putting your children, pets, and personal stuff in the vehicle.
It’s always wise to have alternate routes for your evacuation plan, hundreds of thousands of people heading the same way can create delays and should be accounted for. Call ahead to your destination whether it’s a relative or a shelter, its always good to confirm a space where you can stay for a few days. Your plan should include telling family and friends about your route and destination, ensuring the car is full of gas, and you have food and cash on hand.
Kit in the Case of Emergency
Every home should have some form of a prep kit in the event of an emergency, and should always be stocked with up to date equipment and materials to include first aid. At a minimum your kit should have the following items:
- Water (1 gal. per person per day, for 3 days)
- Food (3 day supply)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- 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 and portable charger
Review and understand your Homeowners Insurance
When Hurricane season gets near, its always nice to know if and what is covered in your homeowners insurance policy in the event you end up experiencing damage or total lose of your home. Reviewing your policy with your provider can be the best method to make sure you have the correct plan and insurance that meets your needs. Normally, new plans and changes take 30 days to go into effect, so waiting for the hurricane to be at your door step to correct your policy wont be an option.
Inspect the Home and Property
Before the storm hits its always a good idea to document the state of the structure before the hurricane winds, rain and other factors cause damage. An easy way of doing this is by taking pictures and videos of the entire home (both interior and exterior) and the surrounding property. This can help in the case of an insurance claim and making a list of what items you had in the home that were destroyed or lost.
Prepping your Home and Property
Before the storm hits, its best to take all precautions even if the forecast doesn’t look so grim. By precautions we mean having sandbags readily available in the case of flooding, storm shutters or wood planks ready to cover windows/doors, Cleaning gutters and making sure drainage around the home is adequate, and securing all outdoor items that are not fastened down.
Damage is inevitable in the case of a Hurricane, but taking the extra precautions can impact the time and cost of the repairs/replacements that will take place after the storm.
Prepare for Power Outages
Power is a luxury a lot of us have come accustomed to in our everyday lives. Its easy to plug in your phone when its dead, the news can be seen on the TV at anytime, Your laptop can pull up all information you could possibly need. The best way to make sure you still have these luxuries during and after the storm, is by purchasing a generator.
The generator should be properly rated for what you need to power. Generators run on gas and a properly estimated supply of fuel will need to be available to keep the generator in operation. The installation and safety requirements for the generator should be provided and thoroughly reviewed before putting into operation.