9 practical steps for hurricane preparation

It’s crucial to prepare well before a storm arrives. (Photo: Shutterstock) Hurricanes can cause widespread devastation in just a few hours. Extreme winds, harsh rainfall, floods, storm surges and even tornadoes can work together to create one of the most destructive scenes a community may ever see. Despite predictions for a less severe hurricane season this year, as Hurricane Matthew proved last fall, it only takes one storm to reach land to create major havoc for home and business owners in any part of the country. To keep safe during hurricanes and other natural disasters, it’s crucial to prepare well before the storm arrives. Here is a refresher on steps to take to keep your home or business safe from a hurricane this season. Related: Hurricane Matthew breaks records, Aon report shows (Photo: Shutterstock) 1. Make an emergency kit. Emergency kits typically include essentials like water, non-perishable food, first-aid kits, medications, flashlights, batteries, a crank radio, important documents, and anything else you might need if you have to evacuate quickly. Once assembled, keep your emergency kit stocked in a secure location you can access quickly if you need to evacuate. Related: How to prepare your pets for a natural disaster (Photo: Shutterstock) 2. Create a communication plan. Sit down with your family to establish a buddy system, how you will get in touch with each other if you aren’t together when disaster strikes, and the safe area where you will meet if separated. Related: Personal emergency preparedness: Are your clients really ready? (Photo: Shutterstock) 3. Contact your community. If hurricanes are common in your area, your local emergency management system may already have evacuation routes and predetermined storm shelters in place. If so, locate these routes before a storm even begins. Related: 6 tips for staying connected this severe weather & hurricane season (Photo: Shutterstock) 4. Stay informed. Listen to local weather services on TV, radio or social media to get the latest updates about storms in your area. Authorities will use these devices to let you know when it’s time to evacuate and take action. Related: 6 keys to successfully weathering the storm (Photo: Shutterstock) 5. Practice your plan. Get your family or employees together to put your plan into action. Simulate the effects of a storm as much as possible. If you notice any holes or areas that need fixing, now is the time to make tweaks — before the storm actually hits. Related: 8 ways to prepare your insureds for a disaster (Photo: Shutterstock) Protecting your house from a hurricane. While it’s crucial that you take steps to keep yourself and your family safe from hurricanes, it’s important that your home is protected, too. To properly prepare your home for a disaster, consider the following: 1. Get reinforcements. Your doors, windows, walls and roof are extremely vulnerable during hurricanes. Have a professional inspect your home to determine the proper way to reinforce these crucial areas before a storm hits. Related: 4 tips to protect property from hurricanes [infographic] (Photo: Shutterstock) 2. Remove outdoor items. Removing items in your yard like furniture, umbrellas, debris, loose rain gutters, dead trees and more can decrease the risk of items getting picked up and thrown into your home during the storm. If you suspect a storm is moving in, secure or remove as many outdoor items as possible. Related: Backyard danger! Swings, slides & other play things pose risk, safety concerns (Photo: Shutterstock) 3. Waterproof your basement. It’s likely that you’ll experience flooding during the hurricane. To minimize costs and damages, have a professional inspect and waterproof your basement as much as possible. Be sure to elevate all critical utilities to decrease the risk of electrical shock and store any books or critical papers in plastic bins or on upper levels of the house. Related: Are your customers prepared to weather the pitfalls of hurricane season? (Photo: Shutterstock) 4. Purchase flood insurance. Most homeowners’ insurance plans don’t cover any risks associated with floods, making owners potentially liable for any repairs required after the hurricane. Flood insurance must be purchased well before the storm hits and covers the structure, but not the contents inside. Make sure to review the policy to determine what is specifically covered. Following these steps will help mitigate some of the damage to your home and expedite recovery and restoration efforts. Related: Hurricane deductibles: How much do homeowners know? Pete Duncanson is director of business process and branch operations for ServiceMaster Restore, and chairman of the board for the IICRC. He can be reached at pduncanson@smclean.com.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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