AAA: Most Virginians don’t prepare for a hurricane until the final hours

HurricaneHurricane preparedness just doesn’t seem like a priority to most people until we start hearing about one circling around in the ocean making its way towards landfall.  In fact, fewer Virginians, 19%, only prepare for a hurricane in the final 24 hours leading up to the storm hitting the area, that is according to a AAA survey.  As the anniversary of last year’s monster Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria approaches, AAA strongly urges everyone to prepare now before the next storm makes landfall.

“Preparing for a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, within the 24 hours leading into landfall is risky,” said Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA.  “Waiting until the last minute can mean risking getting the necessary supplies that may be sold out such as batteries, flashlights, first aid kits, and water.  It is important to make the preparations now while it’s quiet before a storm hits.”

Virginians are encouraged to refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a list of items to include in a hurricane supply kit.   “When preparing for a hurricane, items like a non-electric can opener, paper towels, charcoal, pet food and prescription medication are often overlooked,” noted Meade.  “A good way to remember essential supplies is to approach the storm season like a primitive camping trip.”  Along with your hurricane supply kit, ensure an emergency plan is in place, communicated and practice with family members (kids included) and friends.  According to FEMA, 60% of Americans do not practice what to do in the event of a natural disaster.

FEMA recommends memorizing emergency contact phone numbers (most people rely on smartphones), choosing an out of town friend or relative as a point of contact and deciding on a meeting place (perhaps a shelter) in case the home is uninhabitable. “It may seem silly to practice these scenarios when there is no clear threat of a hurricane, but that’s the point,” said Meade.  “Practice now without the stress of an impending storm.”

Lastly, make sure your insurance policies are all up to date.  Knowledge of flood insurance requirements among Virginia residents is strong, according to the AAA survey. Eighty-two percent of those asked said they are aware that homeowner’s or renter’s insurance does not cover weather-related flood damage. A separate flood insurance policy is required and a 30-day waiting period is mandatory before it takes effect.

AAA severe storm/ hurricane preparation tips

  • Make a Plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan to include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations, and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Research your evacuation route. Be sure and include plans for your pets.
  • Secure Your Home – Inspect your home for minor repairs needed to the roof, windows, down spouts, etc. Trim trees or bushes that could cause damage to your home in case of high winds.
  • Take Inventory – Update your home inventory by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, date purchased and model and serial numbers as available.
  • Stock Emergency Supplies – Plan for a week’s worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure to have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, diapers, etc. You may also want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car should you evacuate.
  • Check Your Vehicle: Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas, properly inflated tires and ensure your wiper blades are not leaving streaks. Have your vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic to determine if the brakes, fluid levels, air conditioning and belts are in good working condition.
  • Protect Your Property – Review your homeowner’s insurance with your insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance in not typically covered under your homeowner’s policy. Flooding to your automobile is available under the Physical Damage coverage.

The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling between August 19-21, 2016 and has a margin of error of +/- four percent.

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