Have you considered how you would prepare if your home lies in a storm's path? In other words, when you're watching your local weather report, and see that a hurricane is roaring up the coast, do you know how to ready your family in the immediate days and hours before it hits?
With an assist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the following are a few steps to follow that can help you, your loved ones and your home brace for impact.
When the storm is 18-36 hours away…
- If you have storm shutters, this is the time to cover your windows up. As a secondary solution, if you haven't installed storm shutters, cover your windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood, making sure the boards are large enough to completely cover your windows.
- To avoid lawn furniture from becoming flying projectiles, bring any lightweight objects indoors, including items such as garbage pails, lawn chairs, wind chimes and toys.
- Go online and bookmark websites that have up-to-the-minute storm information, like the National Hurricane Center, your local news stations as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's home page, which is affiliated with the NHC.
When the storm is 6-18 hours away...
- Give your emergency preparation kit one final look to ensure that you have everything you need, including easy-to-forget items like spare batteries, a flashlight and a manual can opener.
- Take advantage of the electricity while you have it by charging up all of your mobile devices.
- Stay tuned to your local weather report for any changes in the track.
When the storm is six hours away...
- Dial up your freezer and refrigerator temperatures to their maximum coldness settings so your food stays fresh as long as possible if the power goes out.
- Avoid opening the fridge and freezer doors to prevent cold air escaping.
- Stay in the centermost portion of your house, away from the windows that could shatter when heavy storm winds blow.
- Call friends and relatives to keep them apprised of where you are and how you're doing.
- Stay inside until the storm passes.
Of course, these preparations assume you've already taken more comprehensive steps to prepare, ideally weeks in advance. If you haven't done so, NOAA has a great animated web clip on the importance of retrofitting your home, especially if you live along the coast.
If you've recently installed new windows - or done so in the past few years - you know how expensive they can be both to install and to purchase. Despite their improved quality, windows are one of the more vulnerable parts of the average home, which is why safety experts highly recommend installing storm shutters. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has some recommendations on the best wood to use, how thick the shutters should be and why you should avoid taping your windows (hint: It doesn't work).
With the proper homeowners insurance policy - not to mention flood insurance coverage for water damage - your belongings are financially protected. However, the claims process often takes longer than is necessary if you haven't performed an inventory. The Insurance Information Institute has an excellent mobile app you can download to your handheld device to help get you started and finished.
"NOAA believes 10 to 16 named storms are on tap for the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season."
So, how certain are forecasters about this year being an active period for hurricanes? NOAA is predicting with a 70% degree of confidence that between 10 and 16 named storms will develop between now and Nov. 30. However, as FEMA Deputy Director Administrator Joseph Nimmich pointed out, "active" is a relative term when it comes to Mother Nature.
"While seasonal forecasts may vary from year to year - some high, some low - it only takes one storm to significantly disrupt your life," Nimmich explained. "Preparing for the worst can keep you, your family, and first responders out of harm's way. Take steps today to be prepared: develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and make sure you and your family know your evacuation route."
The best time to make out an emergency preparedness plan is when all is calm on the storm front. Take a look at the details on why you should make one as well as a template to get you started.