As Floridians, we are no strangers to hurricanes. However, 2020 has already shown us that national and global surprises can happen at any time, and a hurricane season in the middle of COVID-19 may look and feel very different from years past. No one could have predicted how insane and crazy the first half of 2020 would be, and no one prepared for it. But we know a lot about hurricanes, and we CAN prepare for the Hurricane Season of 2020. Insurance companies are great at preparing people for the unexpected. Here are some great, easy and practical tips to help you prepare your family, your home and your mental state during the Hurricane Season of 2020.
Prepare Your Family and Pets:
- Due to COVID-19 your family plan may be different this year. Decide where your family and pets will ride out the storm and stay healthy and at a safe distance from others. Get information about local evacuations and shelters. If you have pets, decide before hand where they will go. Know if the shelters in your area take in pets as well.
- As you gather emergency items, be aware of the limited amount of supplies because of COVID. Home delivery services can provide a safe choice for buying disaster supplies. You may also have to slowly add to your supplies throughout the next few weeks to be sensitive to others who also are gathering supplies with such a limited amount of goods.
- Fill all needed prescriptions for you, your family members and your pets. Make sure you have enough to last 2-4 weeks. Some states have emergency prescription refill laws that allow pharmacies to dispense early refills of certain medications when under an emergency declaration. Contact your pharmacy or talk to your pharmacist to learn more about it.
- If you are a pet owner, prepare an emergency supply of medications and a one-month (or larger) supply of flea, tick and heartworm prevention medicines as well as food for a month.
Prepare Your Documents:
- Keep a copy of your insurance policy and other important documents with you if possible. Take a photo of these documents on your phone or another device. You will be able to have quick access to those photos without internet access. If you must evacuate, take copies of key papers with you, including birth certificates, marriage records, passports, property deeds, etc.
- Understand your insurance policy coverage. If something isn’t clear to you, contact your agent and get an explanation of exactly what your policy will provide for you. Ask what your hurricane deductible is and if you have flood coverage.
- Keep a home inventory. Take cellphone photos/videos of each room, as well as the outside of your home, including your roof if possible. This can help if you need to file an insurance claim later.
Prepare Your Supplies and Equipment:
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, etc.…)
- Battery powered radio
- Cell phone and chargers
- Emergency blankets
- Extra batteries
- Extra cash
- Extra clothing, hats and sturdy shoes
- Extra medications; over the counter meds
- First aid kit
- Fuel for generators and vehicles
- Insect repellant and sunscreen
- Multipurpose tool (like a Swiss Army Knife)
- Nonperishable foods: enough for three days
- Pet supplies (leashes, collar with ID, food carrier, bowl and food)
- Sanitary or personal hygiene products
- Tools and supplies for securing the home
- Water: one gallon, per person, per day, for three days
Prepare Your Property:
- Clean out your gutters, downspouts and street drains by removing leaves and other debris. This should help keep water flowing freely and could prevent flooding and water backing up into your yard or home.
- Clear your yard of potential flying debris. Bring all lawn furniture, potted plants, bicycles, trash cans or other loose items inside.
- Protect your windows and glass doors with custom shutters or plywood coverings that cover the whole window or door.
- Move boats and recreational vehicles inside or to higher ground. Move business and construction vehicles to higher ground or a different location. Keeping vehicles and other movable property out of harm’s way can protect your home as well as your investments. If your street is prone to flooding, considering parking your vehicle within a legal and safe, walking distance.
- Be able to locate your emergency shutoff valves in the event of damage.
- Test your generator or battery backups. Be prepared for an extended power outage. Store extra fuel safely and only in approved containers. Do not operate portable gas generators indoors or in enclosed spaces where it could lead to poisoning.
- Charge your cell phones and any extra batteries. Store emergency phone numbers in your contacts, including family members, your doctor, your insurance agent and your insurance company’s claims phone number. Keep a paper copy of those numbers in case you lose power.
Prepare Your Safety:
- If you are choosing to stay in your home, identify the safest place in your home. Stay away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
- Do not venture outside during the hurricane. Once the hurricane has past, be aware of moving water, fallen debris and downed power lines as they can still harm you.
Prepare Your Mental State:
- Dealing with natural disasters can and do cause strong emotions and may be very stressful. These feelings can become even more intense due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Feelings of anxiety and loss of control can seem overwhelming. It is a wise choice to get help to cope with these very natural feelings from family, friends and professionals when necessary.
- People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment/medication and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Reach out to a doctor or professional if you feel the conditions worsening.
We may not be able to predict what this hurricane season will look like, but we can prepare for it. Remember to “Just Ask” us if you have questions or need more information to be prepared. We are here for you.