Hurricane Survival Guide: Before, During, and After the Storm

November 11, 2022
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Last month we saw hurricane Ian through Cuba, this week we are watching Hurricane Nicole going through some of the southern states and we won’t soon forget Hurricane Fiona on the east coast of Canada. The thought of preparing for any natural disaster is a daunting task. This is especially true with hurricanes, as they are some of the most devastating, and costly, natural disasters on Earth. Preparing your home and family before a hurricane occurs, and knowing how to react after a storm has passed, are fundamental to helping you to protect your property and keep you and your loved ones safe and secure when disaster strikes.

What to Do Before a Hurricane?

Often, a hurricane warning will be issued one to two days in advance of their landfall. By taking the proper precautions before a hurricane strikes, you can better protect your loved ones and avoid unnecessary property damage to your home. You can stay informed on the latest weather advisories on the Government of Canada website, or The Canadian Hurricane Centre. These outlets will issue and update warnings and other related updates.

The Government of Canada also recommends taking the following precautions in advance of a hurricane:

  • If a hurricane is in the forecast, secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose. Flying objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture can injure people and damage property.
  • Trim dead branches and cut down dead trees to reduce the danger of these falling onto your house during a storm.
  • Stock up on water, ready-to-eat food, and heating fuel, as well as battery-powered or wind-up flashlights and radios – and extra batteries. Make sure that there is gasoline in the car.
  • If you live on the coast or in a low-lying area near the coast, be prepared to move inland and to higher ground if instructed by local officials. The high winds can create large waves at sea which may become storm surges when they reach the shore. If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.

What to Do During a Hurricane?

First, evacuate if you are directed to do so or if you feel it might be unsafe to remain in your home. If you remain in your home, follow these tips to help you and your family stay safe during the storm:

  • Use a portable radio to listen to important storm updates, information and instructions.
  • Stay inside and keep away from all windows, skylights and glass doors. Go to a safe area, such as an interior room, closet or downstairs bathroom.
  • Never go outside the protection of your home or shelter before there is confirmation that the storm has passed the area. The eye of the storm could create a temporary and deceptive lull, while high winds continue to approach.
  • If power is lost, keep the refrigerator closed to keep cold air trapped and delay spoilage of perishable food.
  • If you use a portable generator, follow all the manufacturer’s instructions. Generators should be properly grounded to prevent electrical shock and should never be operated indoors, in garages, basements, or outdoors near any windows, doors, or vents. Because generators produce carbon monoxide (CO), make sure you have a working CO detector in your home.

What to Do After a Hurricane?

After it is confirmed by authorities that the storm has passed and it is safe to go outdoors, you can begin to assess any potential damage to your home and property. Follow these tips after the storm is over:

  • If you were evacuated, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid downed power lines. Never touch anything in contact with power lines, including water or water puddles that may be near the downed power lines.
  • Protect your property from further damage by boarding up broken windows to help deter vandalism or additional weather damage. Arrange for reasonable temporary repairs.
  • Be wary of any gas lines that may have been damaged or broken during the storm. If a gas leak is suspected, stay out of the property until the utility company deems it safe.
  • Be cautious of hazards that are a product of the storm, such as water due to flooding, sharp or broken objects, damaged tree limbs, or other structures that may have been damaged by high winds or water.
  • Keep accurate records of your expenses and save bills and receipts from your temporary repairs. (Avoid making permanent repairs until your Claim professional has reviewed the damage.) Keep accurate records of any other expenses incurred.
  • Separate and inventory any damaged personal property. Create a list of any damaged contents, including a description of the item, name of the manufacturer, brand name, and age, as well as the place and date of purchase, if known. Include photographs, videos, or personal property inventories you may already have available.
  • If you think your home might be unsafe due to storm damage, contact your insurance company to discuss finding temporary accommodations.

When disaster strikes, it is always best to prepare for all the ‘what ifs’. As such, it is an opportune time to ensure your emergency kit is up-to-date and stocked with the items you and those you live with require in the event of a disaster.

The Canadian Red Cross recommends that an emergency kit include enough items to meet your family’s needs for a minimum of three days. While individual needs will vary, food, water, and general supplies should come to mind when composing your kit. Reference the Red Cross’ list below to get started:

Essential items for your Emergency Kit

  • Water
  • Food (non-perishable) and a manual can opener if this includes cans
  • Mask(s) and hand sanitizer
  • Special needs such as medications, baby needs, extra glasses, etc. 
  • Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licenses, wills, land deeds, and insurance)
  • A copy of your emergency plan
  • Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries
  • Battery-operated or crank radio
  • Extra keys, for your house and car(s)
  • First aid kit
  • Extra cash 
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Pet food and pet medication
  • Cell phone with extra charger or battery pack

Additional items you may want to consider adding to your kit include:

  • Change of clothing and footwear for each person
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Personal hygiene items, such as a hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
  • Scissors and a pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Candles and matches
  • Garbage bags and twist ties
  • Toilet paper
  • Multi-tool or basic tools (i.e. hammer, wrench, screwdriver etc.)
  • Duct tape
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each member of your household
  • Toys, games, books, deck of cards
  • Paper maps

Questions about what your existing home insurance policy covers, or how a natural disaster may impact it? Connect with a Gifford Carr professional today.

Source: Traveler’s Insurance

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