Prepare homes, businesses for hurricanes now

storm weather

Credit: bkindler

Hurricane season is only a few weeks away, so now’s a good time to prepare your home or business.

“It’s always helpful to take steps now, ahead of storms that could come our way later in the year,” said Sam Rooks, vice president of underwriting & policy services for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “Don’t wait until the storm watch or warning has been issued.”

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season will run from June 1 to Nov. 30. The 2018 season produced 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, of which two were a category 3, 4 or 5, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety shares hurricane preparation steps that can be taken now for both homes and businesses. Don’t wait until the last minute to gather emergency essentials and prepare for storms.

Homeowners should start by cutting weak tree branches, along with branches that are positioned over structures. Such branches can be broken by high winds and cause property damage.

It’s also a good time to install hardware needed for shutters, or to pre-cut plywood to protect windows and doors.

Homeowners also should check caulking around windows and doors, ensuring that it is not cracked, broken or missing. Holes or gaps around pipes or wires entering the building should be filled.

Additionally, inspect roofs and overhangs for signs of wear or damage. Have the roof inspected to make sure its sheathing is well-connected. Also inspect porches, carports, entryway canopies and storage sheds to confirm that they are firmly attached and in sound structural condition.

The IBHS recommends ensuring sump pumps and drains are working properly. If the sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replaced. Prepare and test all generators.

Business owners are advised to inspect and complete any maintenance needed to confirm the building can withstand severe weather. IBHS suggests making sure all windows and glass in doors are protected in advance of a storm; remember to activate shutters, panels and plywood, and completely close all windows and doors.

Owners should designate an employee to monitor weather reports and alert their team to potentially severe weather, IBHS recommends. Business owners also should review their business continuity plans and update them, along with employee contact information.

Test backup power options, such as a generator, and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries. Re-inspect and replenish emergency supplies inventory and test all life safety equipment.

More information is available at disastersafety.org/hurricane.

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