The 2017 hurricane season started last week running from June 1 through the end of November. Depending on which forecast you prefer to reference, the 2017 season will be higher than average with 11 to 17 named storms with 5 to 9 of those becoming hurricanes and 2 to 4 of those becoming a category 3 or greater.
If the forecasters are correct and one of these hurricanes makes landfall, the damage can be 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 examine the insurance related items to review now.
Buy & Organize Now: There are several things you can purchase now before a 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 including dry beans, pasta, rice, and canned goods. Add to that packaged tuna, salmon, and chicken that doesn’t need 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.
- Have sleeping bags, air mattresses, or extra blankets and sheets.
- Water purification supplies such as iodine tablets, a steri pen or water filtration system can be purchased from REI or a camping supply store.
- Create a list of everyone’s medications and make photo copies of prescriptions if you need to refill one. Keep a list of 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 a few days until that next shower happens.
- Buy extra toiletries and personal hygiene items you may need.
- Prepare an emergency kit for your car including 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 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 resettle, reconnected, and having life get back to normal. Originals are better left in a safety deposit box in your bank.
- Copy of passports, social security cards, green cards, driver’s license, etc. (photo copy 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 and 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 services).
- 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 two 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 means you’re not fighting for them with everyone else in a panic before the storm hits and the shelves are bare. It also means you’ll be able to pull everything together quickly whether you need to evacuate or not. Even for those who don’t live in a coastal area, these plans are appropriate for those who experience tornadoes, earthquakes, and wild fires.
What do you think? Share your suggestions, questions, comments, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!