Hurricane season runs from June 1 through the end of November. Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University climatologists and the Tropical Storm Risk group in London predict a lighter than normal hurricane season for 2014. Both groups believe this due to cooling in the Atlantic Ocean and the re-emergence of El Nino. CSU forecasters predict 9 named storms with 3 hurricanes, 1 severe with winds greater than 110 miles per hour, while Tropical Storm Risk predicts 12 named storms, including 5 hurricanes with 2 being intense.
Regardless of which group has the more accurate forecast, this is a great time to review your insurance and hurricane preparations. Along the Texas Gulf Coast, or where ever you may live, it’s important to review the amount of hurricane (wind) coverage you have and compare it to the amount the dwelling value on your home insurance policy. Does the wind coverage need to be increased? Do the same if you have flood insurance. If you don’t have flood insurance, do you need to add it? As you review these, make sure you have enough coverage on your policies to protect your home as well as your personal property or contents.
Once you’ve completed reviewing your insurance, then it’s time to review your hurricane supplies and plans.
Buy & Organize Now: There are several things you can do now before the panicked run on Home Depot or the local grocery store.
- Secure 3 to 5 gallons of water per day for each person in your family and store in a cool, dry place.
- Buy enough non-perishable food to feed your family for 3 to 5 days. Things like dry beans, pasta, rice, and canned goods work well. Add to that packaged tuna, salmon, and chicken that doesn’t have to be refrigerated.
- Consider buying a camping stove so you’ll have a way to cook your food if the power goes out.
- Purchase flashlights and extra batteries to last 3 to 5 days.
- Make sure you have sleeping bags, air mattresses, or extra blankets and sheets.
- Water purifying supplies such as iodine tablets, a steri pen or water filtration system can be bought from REI or a camping supply store.
- Make sure you have everyone’s medications and refill information along with any special medical needs a family member may have.
- Have extra baby food, formula, diapers and other baby supplies ready.
- Buy disposable cleaning wipes (baby wipes) for the entire family. It may be awhile until that next shower occurs.
- Buy extra toiletries and personal hygiene items you may need.
- Prepare an emergency kit for your car that includes flares, booster cables, maps (cell service may be out), tools, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher.
- Buy masking tape, nails, screws and sheets of plywood to cover large windows if you don’t have storm shutters. This helps prevent wind and water damage caused by breaking windows and the tape protects against flying glass.
- Buy a hand crank powered emergency radio.
Assemble all these items and store centrally in a place you can easily access. They need to be available if you’re unable to evacuate, and will be invaluable if you have to leave quickly.
Important Documents: Create a grab and go box for your important documents. This should be a waterproof box of items to streamline filing claims, getting resettled, reconnected and getting life going again. The items here are photocopies, not originals. Originals are better left in a safety deposit box in your bank.
- Copy of passports, social security cards, green cards, driver’s license, etc. (photocopy both sides) which can be notarized by your local bank representative, usually free of charge.
- Copies of insurance policies for home, auto, life, medical (flood & wind too if these apply)
- Copies of any legal case papers
- Retirement and investment account numbers along with a copy of your last statement
- Copies of bill statements for all credit cards along with account numbers and contact information
- Last year’s tax return
- A recent back up to a thumb drive of your computer / laptop (look into Dropbox, Sugarsync, or other similar service)
- Approximately $150 in cash for food, gas, etc.
- Written phone contact list (physicians, family, friends, work, etc.)
Map Your Route: Do you know where you’d go if you were ordered to evacuate? This is a great time to decide and plan for that.
- Take the time to map out your destination and evacuation route.
- I’d also suggest planning to alternative destinations and routes (Google Hurricane Rita evacuation and you’ll understand).
Having these items purchased and organized before a storm is announced for your hometown allows you to have these items on hand when the shelves are bare at your local Target, Wal-Mart, and grocery store. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on what preparations you need to do prior to the storm’s arrival and your potential evacuation. Even if you don’t live in a coastal area, these plans apply to people who live in areas that experience tornados, earthquakes, and wild fires. Do you have a comment, experience, or question? Share them with us in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook or Google + pages.