With storm season and weather events on the rise, it’s a great time to hone those emergency readiness tools. September is National Preparedness Month! As the saying goes, life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans. As we continue to respond to COVID-19, it’s even more imperative to have a plan.
PREPAREDNESS IS PRIORITY
- Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.
If you don’t have one already, create your Emergency Plan. Practice your plan and determine how you’ll communicate with your family and key contacts. If you’re a business owner, review your Business Continuity Plan with your staff, including communication plans with clients and vendors, and how you’ll roll-out service and product offerings and company protocols in the event of major weather.
- Stay Ahead of the Game: Build Up Supplies
Shop supplies now to stock your Readiness Kit and be sure you have all the essentials including water, food, medications, and hygiene products that will last for several days after a storm or major weather event. It’s important to include the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Check out FEMA’s recommended supplies checklist.
- Understand Your Insurance Policy, Coverage & Deductibles
This one is so important! It may not be at the top of your priority list, but you need to be sure to review your insurance coverage. Having the right coverage can save you a ton of hassle down the road. It’s important to understand the risk of disasters in your area and what specific policies and supplemental coverage you may need. When in doubt, contact your agent to discuss! Many homeowners realize they’ve purchased inadequate policies and by then, it’s too late. Often forgotten, flood coverage takes 30 days to take effect and is provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. If you’re a business owner, it’s also imperative that you review your property and casualty policy as well.
STORM PREPAREDNESS TIPS
- Schedule Comprehensive Property Inspections. Each year, it’s important to get a comprehensive property inspection from an accredited contractor. This should encompass your roofing, exteriors, siding, gutters, windows and doors. If you’re a business or commercial property owner, it’s essential to get an annual roofing and building envelope inspection.
- Maintain Your Landscaping. Every little bit helps. It’s important to have your yard, trees, shrubs and foliage routinely maintained. This includes regularly trimming loose branches from trees. It’s recommended to prune and thin your foliage so wind can flow freely through branches to decrease the probability of trees and plants from being uprooted and becoming deadly flying debris in a storm.
- Clean Your Gutters. This simple chore, when performed regularly, reduces the risk of further water damage to your roofing, siding and foundations in a storm.
- Ensure Exterior Structures Are Secure. Thoroughly check all exterior elements including patios, fences, sheds and screened enclosures to ensure all are securely fastened and structurally sound. This helps prevent damage to your structures, along with the possibility of them breaking off and becoming dangerous flying objects in a storm.
- Strengthen Your Property. If you’re near a hurricane zone, make sure that you have your supplies well in advance, including plywood, shutters.
Thunderstorm Preparedness: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
Thunderstorms are often accompanied by lightning, hail, tornadoes, flash floods, and powerful wind speeds upwards of 50 mph. It’s important to understand the difference between a Thunderstorm Watch and Thunderstorm Warning and what to do in each scenario. During the storm, stay inside a shelter or sturdy building if possible. When inside, avoid using landline phones and do not use running water. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines. Listen to local officials and monitor weather alerts to determine when it’s safe to go outside.
The best protection against lightning is to avoid the threat if possible. If thunderstorms are expected, cancel outdoor activities. A good rule of thumb is to remember that if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. If you do find yourself caught outside in a storm, find a structurally sound building or remain inside a hard-topped vehicle. If you’re inside, stay away from doors and windows. Lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing during a thunderstorm. Avoid contact with water during a thunderstorm, including washing dishes and showering. Don’t touch anything that’s plugged in during the storm.
Nationwide, tornadoes and related storms resulted in approximately $19.5 billion worth of damage in 2019 alone, according to a report by Accuweather. It’s important to understand the difference between a Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning, and what to do in each scenario. Tornadoes can be tricky, as you may not receive an official alert. Know the other warning signs. The air may become very still and the wind may die down considerably (much like being in the eye of a hurricane.) The sky may turn dark or even have a greenish hue. Or you may see clouds of debris approaching, or hear a loud roar similar to the sound of a freight train. Remember, a tornado brings heavy winds, sometimes accompanied by its best friends, hail and lightning. Stay inside! It’s safest to stay in an interior, windowless room on the lowest level or in the basement if you have one.
Hail Storm Preparedness
Be prepared and ensure your property is ready to withstand heavy rains, winds, and potential hail. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it only takes a wind speed of as little as 58 mph or hail as small as the size of a quarter to cause severe property damage. Hail damage often goes undetected because it’s not seen from the ground. Hail-related insured losses between 2000 and 2019 averaged between $8 billion to $14 billion a year, according to a study by Aon. Over 50% of hail claims were made over a year after the hail storm took place, because homeowners did not get their roofs inspected. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year in the Atlantic Basin. If you need a refresher, check out our article on hurricane preparedness tips. It’s important to understand the difference between a Hurricane Watch and Hurricane Warning and what to do in each scenario. Ensure that your readiness plan is in place and get stocked up on water, food, and supplies.
Flood Preparedness: Turn Around, Don’t Drown®
88% of all deaths in the U.S. from hurricanes, tropical storms or tropical depressions are caused by flooding, storm surge, and high surf. The most common flood deaths occur when a vehicle is driven into dangerous floodwaters. It just takes 12 inches of moving floodwater to carry away a small vehicle. Just 2 feet of rushing water can sweep away large vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks. As little as 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over a full-grown adult. Turn around, don’t drown! Understand the difference between a Flash Flood Emergency and a Flash Flood Warning and know what to do in each scenario.
Storm Surge Preparedness
Storm surge is one of the greatest storm threats to life and property. This deadly weather event can be caused by all types of storms including hurricanes, tropical storms, tropical cyclones, and even thunderstorms. Roughly half of all U.S. deaths from tropical cyclones are due to storm surge. It’s important to know your route if you live in a storm surge evacuation zone. If an evacuation is ordered, pay attention to your local officials. Evacuation routes can be cut off by surge, so quick action in your evacuation is key. With any flooding, whether it’s from storm surge or not, be aware of downed electrical and power lines, sewage or water backup, trees and debris blocking the roads.
Stay Informed: Monitor Weather Apps
We have so many great weather apps. Search for your favorites now and download them to your phone. The FEMA app includes alerts on weather along with safety tips and disaster resources. Check out Ready.Gov Alerts for more details relevant for hazards that affect your area.
Venture Construction Group: Storm Readiness Experts
As a full-service general contractor, Venture Construction Group (VCG) provides construction, remodels, renovations, property management services, storm damage repairs, consulting, independent 3rd party property damage assessments, and 24/7 emergency services to residential and commercial property owners throughout the U.S.