Mother Nature

Tree down after storm.

Make sure you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature can dish out.

To help you prepare for common weather threats we want to share these tips to help you protect what is important to you. Having a survival kit and evacuation plan in place ahead of any natural disaster can save you and your loved ones hardship and worry if you have to seek shelter elsewhere. Learn how to be ready before and stay safe during, and after, a variety of weather emergencies.

  • Long-Term Planning
  • Disaster Readiness
  • During the Storm
  • Recovery After
  • Survival Kit
  • Build an Inventory
Disaster planning – it is never too early to start

Here is what you need to do:

  • Review your insurance policy to ensure you have sufficient coverage. Your friends at Richardson Harris Boatwright can help.
  • Create safety plans for your family and your business. Families, draw up an evacuation plan that tells everyone where to go and how to keep in touch during an emergency.
  • Build a content inventory to document the items in your home or at your business.
  • Prepare a survival kit of things you might need if disaster strikes.
  • Perform routine maintenance such as tree-trimming, gutter cleaning and debris removal around your home or office building. Make sure drains and sump pumps are clear.
If disaster is imminent – how do you prepare?

If you hear that a severe storm or another type of natural disaster is headed your way, there are precautions you can take to help your family and your business be prepared.

If you are ordered to evacuate, do so. If you are not being evacuated, use your time wisely to make preparations designed to keep everyone safe during the event.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Communicate where you will be.
  • Contact someone outside the affected area to tell them where you will be for the duration of the storm.
  • Learn how to shut off all utilities.
  • It is always a good idea to know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water in your home or place of business.
  • Learn the warning signs and alert signals for your area.
  • Stay tuned to your local television or radio station for disaster-related information.
  • Collect emergency building materials.
  • Depending on the type of disaster, you may want to consider having emergency materials on hand, such as plywood, sandbags and waterproof tarps.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside.
  • Grills, patio furniture and flowerpots are common household items that can become airborne in high winds. Do not use grills inside or store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Business owners should also remember to secure outdoor signage, benches and equipment to minimize potential damage.
  • Keep your car fueled up.
  • If you have an emergency generator, keep that fueled up as well, and always have spare fuel on hand that is stored in an approved container in a safe location.
  • Be sure you have car chargers for your cell phone, smart phone and other portable devices.
  • Having car chargers available can assist you in staying in communication if your electricity goes out.

Start by getting organized and doing simple tasks and you can undertake effective planning without stress.

Disaster has occurred – how do you stay safe?

If you have not been ordered to evacuate, you will want to stay in a safe area during any type of natural disaster. Be sure you have access to your survival kit in case you are in an emergency that lasts several days.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Listen to your portable radio for important updates and instructions from local authorities.
  • Remember to have a battery-powered radio in your survival kit.
  • Take shelter during the disaster.
  • Go to a safe area such as an interior room, closet or downstairs bathroom.
  • If power is lost, use a generator with caution.
  • Make sure conditions are safe before operating a portable generator. Only operate it outside — away from windows, doors or vents.
  • Stay in your safe area until the danger has passed.
  • Resist the temptation to check on your property until you are sure it is safe to do so.
Danger has passed – how do you recover?

Once the disaster has passed, the danger is not necessarily over. Survey your property for hazards and remedy them right away. Then you can assess the damage to your property in order to initiate the rebuilding process.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Make sure everyone is safe.
  • Stay tuned to the radio or television until an official “all clear” is given. If you were evacuated, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so.
  • Look for broken glass and sharp objects and avoid downed power lines.
  • Never touch anything in contact with power lines, including water or puddles that may be near the downed lines.
  • Have a qualified individual check for gas leaks or electrical system damage.
  • Report those problems to the utility companies right away.
  • Protect your property from further damage.
  • Arrange for reasonable temporary repairs. Board up broken windows to protect against vandalism or additional weather damage. Take photos of the damage and save all bills and materials receipts. (Do not make permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster has reviewed the damage.)
  • Throw out questionable food.
  • Discard any food that has come in contact with contaminants, such as flood water or smoke. If the power is out, make sure to leave the freezer and refrigerator closed to keep food cold for as long as possible.
  • Report your claim immediately.
  • The sooner you call your insurance carrier, the sooner they can help. Be sure to speak to a claim professional before hiring a contractor to make permanent repairs. When choosing a contractor, select one who is licensed.
  • Refuel portable generators with caution.
  • Turn off the generator and let it cool down before refueling. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
Create a survival kit

In creating a survival kit, think about what you would need if you were stranded away from home for three to seven days.

It should include at a minimum:

  • Canned food and other nonperishable food, along with a non-electric can opener
  • A gallon of water per person, per day
  • Toiletries and personal items
  • Flashlights and plenty of batteries
  • A portable radio and/or television
  • Prescription medications
  • Extra clothing and blankets
  • A first-aid kit
  • Emergency cash and credit cards
  • A copy of your insurance policy
  • A copy of an inventory of your home’s contents
  • Other personal documents

Store data electronically:

Important personal documents can help you reestablish your life after a disaster. Consider storing digital copies of the following on a password-protected flash drive:

  • Wills, trusts, deeds and birth certificates
  • Account numbers
  • Personal and family records, copies of licenses including medical records
  • Legal and financial documents
  • Inventory of your home’s contents
  • Photographs of your home and your belongings
Compile an inventory of your important possessions

In the event of severe damage to your home or business, having a current inventory of your possessions — including their make and model numbers — can help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. While most people think of their home when discussing an inventory, it is important to document the contents of your business as well.

Here are some suggestions for getting started.

  • Take a picture. Take pictures of rooms and important individual items. Label pictures with a description, including where you bought it and the make, model and serial number. Remember items that are in storage closets or drawers.
  • Video record it. Walk through your home or office with a video recorder or tape recorder and describe the contents.
  • Create an electronic file Use your computer or mobile device to create and store your inventory list.
  • Store the list, photos and tapes. Regardless of how you create it (written or electronic list, flash drive, photos, video or audio), keep your inventory along with receipts in your safe deposit box, on a disk or at a friend or colleague’s home. Doing so will help ensure you will have something to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to the inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
  • Consider expensive items. Valuable items like jewelry, art and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately.
    * This information was taken from an article from the Insurance Information Institute(www.iii.org)