As hurricane season approaches in South Florida, it’s important to take precautions to keep your family safe. Even though it’s been over a decade since a major hurricane hit Florida, it’s important not to be complacent. Here are some hurricane tips to keep you prepared.
Last year, we had a quieter than normal hurricane season, but experts are predicting an average or above-average number of hurricanes in 2016.
While preparation is important, no one knows for sure whether hardened houses will survive a hurricane.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak period from early August through the end of October. The Atlantic basin includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes coming from the Atlantic can impact vacations on the Southeast coast, all of Florida, and along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas.
Every year, the United States is hit with hurricanes that cause catastrophic damage. Even areas that receive the lightest blows of the hurricanes can see millions of dollars in damaged homes. The chart below, pulled from The Insurance Information Institute, provides a great look at some statistics:
Catastrophic Hurricane Losses In The United States, 2006-2015 ($ billions)
(1) Hurricanes causing insured property losses of at least $25 million in 1997 dollars and affecting a significant number of policyholders and insurers. Does not include losses covered by the federally administered National Flood Insurance Program.
(2) Adjusted for inflation through 2015 by ISO using the GDP implicit price deflator.
(3) No hurricane met the PCS definition of a catastrophe.
If you live in South Florida, you’re in a region that’s known for experiencing hurricanes. Some of these steps may be as simple as picking up loose items in your yard, while others may require more effort:
– If the weatherman is warning of severe weather, secure any loose items in your yard. Patio furniture should be placed in a shed, loose branches should be removed, garbage cans should go into the garage, and trampolines should be secured into the ground. One way to do this is by flipping the trampoline over so that the legs are in the air and strapping it down to the ground. This can make the difference between your trampoline flying away or smashing into your home or a neighbor’s home and staying in place.
– Cover your windows and doors. Even if you’ve secured your loose items outside, your neighbors may not have been as diligent. Shutters can protect your glass from shattering when struck by high-speed debris.
– Ensure your home has been built to code. In many hurricane-prone areas, local codes mandate certain protective measures. For example, to prevent roofs from being ripped off of homes, some area housing codes require precise fastening systems. Storm surges that become trapped by homes can become more problematic. Some areas even require new homes to be raised to avoid this. Ensure your home has proper tie-downs, embedded connectors, is raised to the proper height, or whatever is required in your area. Ensuring your gutters and downspouts are clear is a quick, inexpensive way to help prevent unnecessary water damage.
– Reinforce your doors. A loose or weak door can fly off its hinges or crack open under the pressure of high-force winds. Spend the extra money to buy a solid door and make sure it is reinforced at the hinges.
Are you a homeowner in Florida? If yes, then you can benefit from a Homeowner’s Handbook with helpful tips on how to protect your home. You can download it by clicking on this link.
In case your home is damaged by a storm, there are steps you can take to prevent further harm. Make necessary repairs and keep track of all receipts and expenses associated with temporary repairs that may qualify for reimbursement. Create a list of all the damaged personal belongings, their manufacturer, brand name, place, and date of purchase. It’s an excellent idea to take pictures and videos of your property before any damage occurs. Keep damaged property in a secure location for examination by a claims adjuster to estimate your loss accurately.
Why is all this necessary? Because after a storm, unscrupulous contractors may try to take advantage of distressed homeowners. So, if a contractor asks you to sign over your insurance benefits, be alert. It’s a trick to inflate your bill and gain huge profits from the insurance claim, raising everyone’s insurance premiums.
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