AAA: Prepare how, as Hurricane Florence takes aim

aaaAs Hurricane Florence intensifies with the potential for impact on the East Coast later this weekgovernors in Virginia and North and South Carolina have declared states of emergency.

According to a recent poll by AAA, only 19% of Virginians have both adequate supplies and a family emergency plan that includes things like meeting locations and a plan for communication.  As Hurricane Florence threatens the east coast with the potential of heavy rainfall and strong winds that can knock down trees, power lines and cause widespread flooding, AAA advises to prepare now to help keep you and your family safe, minimize property damage and plan for post-storm recovery.

“Now is the time to prepare for the potential impact of Hurricane Florence” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA.  “The best way to be ready is to prepare for the worst case scenario with enough essential supplies for at least three days and an emergency communications plan that has been practiced with every member of the household.”

AAA suggests taking the following actions before, during and after the storm:

Before the Storm

While making sure your home is covered for storm damage is important, keeping yourself and your family safe during a storm is more important.

The following emergency supplies should always be kept on hand:

  • Canned food items and bottled water
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • A battery-operated radio
  • Sheets and blankets
  • Essential prescription medications
  • Emergency cash
  • Stock a cooler with ice
  • Keep the freezer door closed as long as possible
  • Keep what cold air you have inside the freezer – do not open the door any more than necessary.  A full freezer should stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about one day. If your freezer is not full, group packages so they form an “igloo” to protect each other.

An emergency evacuation plan should be in place for every member of the household. Identify the nearest storm shelter, and suggest a meeting point should family members get separated.

Brace Your Home for Storm Damage
There are some basic things you can do to protect your home from storm damage. Install storm shutters or cover windows to prevent window breakage. Check for loose siding on your home and secure it if necessary. If you need to evacuate, turn off all your utilities and disconnect any electrical item in your home. Water and electricity don’t mix, so any device left connected is a potential fire hazard.

Take a Home Inventory

While the outside of your home might be most prone to storm damage, your personal belongings are also at risk in a storm. Because of this, documenting your personal possessions with a home inventory is highly recommended. Having a home inventory makes filing a home insurance claim simpler, and can help expedite the claims process.

If you don’t have a complete home inventory including receipts and model numbers, you can still make one using your smart phone or camera. Take photographs or video of your personal possessions, open closets, drawers and cupboards and get photos of every room. A home inventory can include clothing, jewelry, furniture, personal computers and other personal property. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your home inventory in an outside location, like a safe deposit box or trusted family member’s home.

After the Storm

Photograph and document the damage.  With storm damage to your home you will need to file a claim with your insurance company — do so as soon as possible. The earlier you file a home insurance claim, the faster it will be processed. Also, you may be required to file your claim within a certain time frame, so don’t delay. Incomplete or inaccurate information can result in a delayed claim, so make sure you have all necessary paperwork in-hand when contacting your home insurance company.

You may need to make minor repairs to storm damage that will prevent further damage to your home, like fixing broken windows or make temporary repairs to protect your property if possible.  For permanent storm damage repairs, wait until your insurance company has examined the property. If you have storm damaged property, do not throw it away until the claims adjuster inspects it.

If the temporary repairs are made prior to a claims adjuster inspecting your home, be sure to save your receipts and keep a record of all of your temporary repair expenses.

If possible, move your property to protect it from further damage. If you are unable to move large belongings, try to protect them from the elements using a tarp or plastic.

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