The 2015 hurricane season has started. It runs from June 1 through the end of November. Accuweather is forecasting another below normal year for hurricanes. They predict 8 tropical storms, 4 hurricanes, 1 major hurricane, and 2 to 3 that will make landfall. This year’s number is slightly lower than last year’s predictions. Like last year, the reason for the below normal storms predicted is attributed to El Nino wind patterns that tilt the spinning air which inhibits the formation of storms, as well as drier than normal air and cooler water temperatures in the Atlantic.
If Accuweather is correct and one of these hurricanes makes landfall, the damage can be pretty severe. This makes it a great time to review your insurance and hurricane preparations. This week, I’ll focus on basic preparation and next week, we’ll take a look at insurance related items to review now.
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 on our Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!