What to do before, during, and after a storm

Key takeaways:

  • Review and understand your insurance policies.
  • Take inventory of your home/belongings and take photos and videos in case you need to make a claim.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan.
  • Cover windows and doors with hurricane shutters or wood.
  • Bring small or loose objects inside.
  • Put your car in the garage or another covered place.
  • Make plans for your pets.
  • Secure important papers/documents.
  • Buy enough nonperishable food & water to last for up to a week.
  • Fill up your gas tank
  • Have flashlights, batteries, and battery-operated radios on hand.
  • After the storm, assess the damage and make a claim right away.

Hurricane season is underway with no sign that the tropics will die down soon. If you live near a coast – or if you would be in the path of a storm after it makes landfall – you face a serious threat. 

Preparing for a hurricane or tropical storm can be overwhelming. There are many steps to take to protect your family, home, and other property such as your car or boat. 

We’ve put together this hurricane preparedness guide to help you plan before, during, and after a storm.

Understand your insurance coverage

One of the most important things you can do now is review your insurance coverage. Go over your homeowners’ policies to see what’s covered and what’s not. Make sure you have enough coverage, especially if you’ve done any home renovations recently or your property value has gone up. 

Be sure to review your deductibles. Some policies have separate deductibles for windstorm damage, especially if you live in a low-lying or coastal area. 

NOTE: Most homeowners’ policies do not cover flood damage from hurricanes, so make sure you have a separate flood insurance policy. On the other hand, your auto insurance probably covers flood damage. 

Prepare an evacuation plan

Depending on where you live – or the type of housing – you may need to evacuate to a safer location. Anyone living in a mobile home is advised to evacuate. Coastal and some low-lying areas often have mandatory evacuations depending on the severity of the storm. Be sure to check with local officials to see if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone.  

If you have to evacuate, make arrangements to stay with family/friends or prepare to stay in a hurricane shelter. Check online for a list of local shelters and what you’re required to bring with you.

Preparing your home

If a hurricane or tropical storm is forecasted to affect your area, it’s time to prepare your home. The main goal is to secure your windows and doors and bring in anything that isn’t secured to the ground as loose items could become airborne. 

Here are some tips:

  • Bring in everything from the yard (patio furniture, umbrellas, planters/hanging plants, grills, lawn ornaments, etc.)
  • Remove dead or dying tree limbs/branches
  • Cover windows with hurricane shutters or plywood
  • Move cars to the garage or another covered area if possible
  • Take pictures/videos of your home/belongings in case you have to make an insurance claim
  • Unplug and secure electronics like computers and TVs
  • Secure your boat

Keep your pets safe

Making decisions beforehand about what to do with your pets will make your storm prep much less stressful. 

First, understand that most hurricane shelters do not accept pets. You can find designated, pet-friendly shelters in most areas but you usually have to pre-register them. 

You also want to consider getting your pet a microchip. This will ensure you can be reunited if he/she gets loose or you separate. 

Food, water, gas, and medications

Next, you’ll need to go shopping for water and food. Buy plenty of non-perishable items that you’ll be able to eat even if you lose power. As for water, a good rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per day/per person. Many people buy bottled water, but you can also fill up containers before the storm to use as drinking water. Fill up bathtubs with water to use for bathing/cleaning or flushing the toilet. 

You’ll also want to make sure you have enough gas to last at least a few days once the storm passes. If the power goes out, you may not be able to fill up at a gas station. Be sure you have extra gas on hand for generators, too.

Also, make sure you have enough prescription medications to last until you can get more. Have extra batteries on hand for medical devices. If you have medications or devices that must be kept at a certain temperature or require power to run, make sure you have a way to power those.

Important documents

Secure important documents such as insurance papers and property information like deeds and property lines, etc. You can store them in a sealed plastic bag or on a computer. Some people also save backup documents to the cloud so they can be accessed from anywhere. 

During the storm

During a hurricane, you need to stay inside away from all windows. Designate one location as your “safe room.” It should be an interior room with no windows. Put your emergency hurricane supplies in there including bedding, flashlights, batteries, and a battery-operated radio. 

No matter what, do not go outside until you get an all-clear from local officials. Hurricanes usually come in two waves and there is often a lull between them. Even if the sky looks clear, the weather can turn deadly again in minutes. 

After the storm

Once an all-clear is given, you can venture outside. Be sure to stay away from standing water and downed power lines. Do not drive in areas that look flooded. Even a small amount of water can cause your vehicle to lose traction. You could also end up flooding your car, which can damage the engine, electrical parts, and the interior. 

Walk around your property and assess the damage. Do everything you can to protect your home from further issues by covering broken/damaged windows, doors, and the roof. 

Make a note of any damage (use photos and videos just like before) and then contact your insurance company to make a claim. Many insurance companies require you to report storm damage within a certain timeframe. Be sure to read over your policy so you don’t miss the deadline. 

Meet your insurance needs this hurricane season

Hurricane season can leave you feeling uncertain as you wait to see if a storm will come your way. Make sure you have the right insurance coverage to protect your home, car, boat, and other property. If you have questions about your policies or you’re interested in a quote, contact us today.

This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.