And dealing with the aftermath
Compiled for The Laker/Lutz News by Marie Abramov
Bracing for hurricanes
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Prepare before the big storm threatens, to minimize its impacts on you and loved ones.
Prepare a hurricane kit. It should include:
–One gallon of water per person for a week to ten days
–Nonperishable food items including juices, crackers, breakfast and protein bars, canned and dried fruit, peanut butter and bread
–Utensils for eating, including paper cups and plates, plastic utensils
–Blankets and pillows; hygiene supplies, moisture wipes and toilet paper; waterproof and seasonal clothing and reliable shoes; first-aid kit and special medications; flashlights, batteries, tools and tarpaulins; cameras
Take these steps:
–Freeze containers of ice in case of a power outage to help keep foods cold. Freeze highly perishable items like meat, poultry, milk and cheese so they may last longer during a hurricane. Grouped food stays colder longer. A refrigerator keeps its contents cold if left unopened for four hours; a freezer maintains functions for 24 hours if it’s half-full – 48 hours if it’s completely full.
— Protect your documents in a watertight plastic bag or waterproof container. Include social security numbers, passports, marriage and/or divorce papers, titles and deeds, mortgage and insurance documents, driver licenses, bank statements and so on.
— Fill your gas tank and have plenty of cash on hand, in case the storm knocks out power from gas pumps and ATMs.
— Protect your car from flooding damage by moving it as far inland as possible and to higher ground, like a multi-tiered parking garage. Do not park cars next to trees and other objects that could blow into them. Remove items not permanently held in place, such as a GPS.
Protect your home:
— Protect your windows with permanent storm shutters or sheets of plywood.
— Remove objects around the home that act as projectiles in high winds, such as potted plants, barbecue grills, garden gnomes and garbage cans.
Protect your family:
–Make an evacuation plan with family members. Learn the quickest evacuation routes and shelters. Bring an emergency kit. Have mobile phones or radios to maintain communications. Watch for road hazards when traveling on an evacuation route.
Pointers to help with a storm’s aftermath
Take these steps to avoid danger and minimize hassles:
–Contact your insurance agent to notify the company of any covered damage to your home, apartment or vehicle and to find out the extent of your coverage.
–Take detailed photographs of damaged items to submit with claims.
–Save receipts for all dining, hotel, medical, hygiene and even entertainment for reimbursement. The receipts should be saved from the time you leave your home until you are able to return to live in it. Also, even spoiled food items, up to a limit, may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance.
In case of flooding:
–If water has flooded the interior of your car, do not try to start it because that may cause additional damage.
–Cover broken windows and tarp the windows and roof of your home to keep rain and animals from getting in and making the situation worse.
Keep yourself safe after the storm:
–Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters immediately after a hurricane. The water may be deeper than you think or there may be a strong undercurrent. Also, there may be fallen electrical lines in the water.
–If you must evacuate, avoid driving over fallen electrical lines. They can energize your car and pose a serious safety risk. If there are fallen electrical lines near your car, stay in your car and call 911 or attract attention for help.
–Be aware that metal fences, mailboxes, poles and even nonmetal objects, such as wood and standing water, become conduits for electrical lines, so use care when assessing damage to your home and car.
–Be careful of downed electrical lines when you are clearing out debris around the home. Have someone with you during the cleanup in the event of an accident so the other person may call for help. Fallen trees and their branches may be tangled up with power lines.
Watch out for scams and unlicensed contractors:
–Beware of the electricians, roofers and contractors who push or rush you into accepting their services on the spot.
–Don’t make cash-only business deals. Pay by check or credit card. Don’t pay the full price upfront before the job is satisfactorily completed.
–Before hiring a contractor, do your research. Verify the contractor’s business license and insurance. Legitimate contractors are certified and insured or bonded. They also offer written estimates, not verbal quotes.
— Be wary of those traveling door-to-door who offer services using a pitch such as, they just “happened to be in the area and had materials leftover from previous jobs.”
Sources: hurricane.com, fda.gov, ehow.com, about.com, weltmanhomeservices.com and whitehouse.gov.
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