Simple Steps You Need to Take Now to Prepare for the Next Hurricane
Hurricane season is here. That means that New Jersey home and business owners must keep a wary eye on the waters of the Atlantic and storms that may be making their way across the ocean or up the coastline.
It’s important to take steps now, so that when the storms are knocking on your door, you can feel confident that you’ve taken every possible precaution to ensure that your home, family, and your property are as safe and secure as possible.
1) Protect Your Family
Before storms are even on the horizon, you should have an emergency bag packed for every member of the household. This bag should include medications for each person to last several days, two or three changes of clothing, travel toiletries, bottled water, portable non-perishable snacks and meals, baby formula and backup supplies for babies, and entertainment for children (including flashlights, books, coloring books, crayons, electronics which can be added at the last minute, and backup batteries).
These bags need to be packed and kept in a convenient location where they can be grabbed and taken out of the door quickly in the event of an emergency.
Don’t forget to have copies of important documents stored in a zipper bag or other waterproof container and stored in your go bag. This includes things like prescriptions, health records, insurance documents, etc. Also include cash in your go bags. Sometimes ATMs run out of money or power goes out, and this makes purchasing necessities or accessing bank funds difficult – unless you have cash.
2) Safeguard Your Property
Your home is generally your shelter from life’s many storms. When hurricanes are on the horizon, however, your home may not be a safe place for you or your family. You need to take steps ahead of time to secure your home, to the best of your abilities, and then take your family to safer locations outside of the hurricane’s projected path.
The first thing you need to do, right now, is revisit your homeowner’s insurance coverage to make sure you are adequately covered for hurricane damage from wind and rain. In most cases, this means you’ll also need to purchase flood insurance, separate from your homeowner’s policy. The reason you need to do this now is that flood insurance has a 30-day period before it is effective. If you wait until a storm is coming to make the purchase, it will likely not be in effect for the storm.
Once you have your insurance affairs in order, make an itemized list of your possessions and include that list in your important paperwork. Consider documenting your possessions with a video camera and uploading the video to a cloud server (stored somewhere out of harm’s way).
Install hurricane shutters that can be quickly and easily closed to protect windows during the storm. If you prefer to use boards to protect your windows, consider installing Plylox or some similar clips so that they are already in place to speed up the process when storms loom. Doing this ahead of time spares you from standing in long lines at the hardware store when you could be quickly installing the board and heading out of town.
Secure lawn ornaments and furniture that could become projectiles, causing damage to your home or the homes of your neighbors during the storm. This helps to reduce your liability risks and helps to protect your property.
Store important possessions on upper floors of your home or in high spaces. Depending on the storm surge, this could mean the difference between saving baby photos and important sentimental items, or losing them for good.
3) Plan Ahead for Your Pets
You need to have a plan in place for your pets as well. They are part of the family too, and most shelters do not accommodate pets. Make sure you have a “go bag” for Fido too with a few of his favorite toys, blanket, a travel crate or carrier, pet food, treats, and a water bowl to take along. Don’t forget to include copies of all vaccinations and keep those vaccinations up to date.
It may be necessary to board your pet while traveling to get out of the hurricane’s path and these records will be needed. If your pet has any special medical needs (medicine, special diet, etc. make sure to have extras to bring along and medical records from your vet).
If you plan to stay in hotels while traveling out of town for the hurricane, call ahead and find out which chains offer pet-friendly room reservations. Reserve your room at the first sign of trouble as these will likely fill up fast. Also look for kennels in the area where you’ll be traveling if you can’t find hotels that accommodate pets and make arrangements there for your pet as far ahead of time as possible.