With the latest projections showing Florida experiencing 149 deaths per day at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s difficult to think about hurricanes, but indeed, summer is approaching and forecasters are predicting a very active Atlantic hurricane season. According to researchers at the Colorado State University, we may see 16 named storms this year, including eight hurricanes, and four of those hurricanes are predicted to be category 3, 4 or 5 storms.
With water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico more than three degrees above average, we know to expect bigger, more destructive hurricanes in Florida this year. And with the COVID-19 health crisis in full swing, we know that our state emergency planners have much more on their minds than an impending hurricane season. However, as individuals and as communities, there are steps we can take to prepare now for the inevitable threat of hurricanes. In this blog post, I will discuss a few of these safety precautions.
Be Prepared for Emergencies at Home
Besides having emergency items in your vehicle, you should also have emergency supplies in your home. Batteries, flashlights, candles and matches will all be needed if you lose power. Additionally, a three-day supply of drinking water, a supply of nonperishable food items, first aid supplies, medications and a portable NOAA weather radio can help you survive in emergency situations. Finally, a set of basic tools and materials, such as plywood and heavy plastic sheeting, can help you make emergency home repairs necessary to keep your family safe and prevent further damage.
While you have time to take the longer view of home preparation, you could also consider making some precautionary changes. Trimming trees that could possibly fall on your house during a storm and removing weak branches that could break off trees and damage your home are good ideas. So too is replacing gravel, rock and other heavy landscaping materials with lighter weight materials, such as mulch, that won’t cause as much harm in a storm.
As for home improvements, now is the time to consider making those that could keep your home safe during a hurricane. Sealing outside wall openings around vents, electrical outlets, cables and pipes with a high-grade caulk to prevent water from getting inside your home is recommended. Also consider replacing any house and garage doors that aren’t hurricane proof and getting storm shutters or plywood panels for your windows and sliding glass doors.
Create a Home Inventory
If your Florida home is damaged during a hurricane, you will need to document the damage in order to file a claim with your insurance company. My experience helping Florida homeowners with insurance claims has shown me that the claims process usually goes more smoothly if you have thorough records and pictures of your home and the items in it, so I recommend taking the time to do a home inventory and document your possessions as thoroughly as possible well before a hurricane hits.
Pictures of your home’s exterior, as well as each room in your home and all of the large and valuable items in the rooms and outside will help you document the extent of damage should wind and/or water damage your home. In addition, receipts for items with dates of purchase should be scanned and kept in a file with your pictures so the information you need to file an insurance claim is readily available.
Review Your Florida Homeowners Insurance Policy
This is also the time to review your coverage to make sure it’s sufficient for repairing your home and replacing belongings in case major damage occurs. Maybe you need to enhance your coverage because the value of your home has increased. Maybe you need extra coverage for newly acquired, expensive items. Or maybe you should purchase a separate flood insurance policy or better hurricane damage protection. In any case, make sure you have protection against hurricane-related wind and wind-blown water damage and enough protection to cover replacing or repairing your home and its contents.
Be Prepared to Leave
Even though we’re presently not supposed to leave our homes except for necessities like food and medication, when a hurricane is coming our way, leaving might be our best option. Emergency planning experts suggest making sure your vehicle’s gas tank is at least half full at all times so that you can leave if you have to and knowing the evacuation routes around your community so you will know which way to go in case evacuation becomes necessary.
In addition to preparing your vehicle and knowing your evacuation route, you should also keep essential items together and readily accessible so you can quickly pick them up and take them with you. These essential items might include important documents, such as passports or other identification, insurance policies, and the deed to your home, as well as medication and basic emergency supplies. Things like nonperishable food items and pet food (if you have pets), flashlights, batteries, and enough bottled water for three days can actually be stored in your vehicle so that in an emergency you won’t have to waste time looking for them and loading them.
Get Help from Experienced Florida Insurance Claim Attorneys
If you have concerns about your insurance policy or problems with your insurance company, please contact the experienced Florida insurance claim attorneys at Malik Law. Call us today at 407-500-1000 or submit the “Tell Us What Happened” form on our website for a free consultation with one of our expert Orlando insurance claim attorneys. We want you to stay healthy, safe and well protected during this global health crisis and the Florida hurricane season.
Cappucci, M. (2020 March 31). Abnormally warm Gulf of Mexico could intensify the upcoming tornado and hurricane seasons. Washington Post.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). COVID-19 projections assuming full social distancing through May 2020.
Sampson, Z.T. (2020 April 7). Coronavirus is here and hurricane season is coming, whether Florida likes it or not.