What You Should Know This Hurricane Season
Preparedness and Safety tips:
1. Stay Informed
Keep track of weather updates and forecasts from reliable sources such as the National Hurricane Center (NHC) or your local meteorological agency. Sign up for emergency alerts and follow them closely.
2. Create an Emergency Plan
Develop a family emergency plan that includes evacuation routes, meeting points, and communication methods. Make sure every family member knows what to do in case of a hurricane. Identify the nearest shelters and familiarize yourself with their locations.
3. Prepare an Emergency Kit
Assemble a well-stocked emergency kit that includes essential supplies such as non-perishable food, water, medications, flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, a first aid kit, cash, important documents (ID, insurance papers), and manual can opener. Aim to have supplies that can last for at least 72 hours.
4. Backup Important Data
Make digital copies of important documents and store them in a secure, waterproof location or in cloud storage. Consider using a waterproof and fireproof safe for physical documents.
5. Review Insurance Coverage
Ensure your home, property, and belongings are adequately covered by insurance. Review your policy and understand what it covers, including flood insurance, as regular homeowner's insurance typically does not cover flood damage.
6. Secure Outdoor Items
Secure or bring inside any outdoor furniture, decorations, or other items that could become projectiles in high winds. These objects can cause damage to your property or others during a hurricane.
7. Fuel, Transportation and Evacuation Planning
Keep your vehicles fueled and in good condition. Have an emergency supply of fuel in approved containers. Be aware of evacuation zones and emergency shelters, which you can learn about here, and plan for alternative transportation options if necessary. If you live in a coastal area or in a zone prone to storm surges, familiarize yourself with evacuation orders and have a plan in place for leaving the area promptly if necessary. Determine multiple evacuation routes and destinations in case one becomes impassable.
8. Maintain Communication
Have a backup power source, such as a generator or portable battery pack, to keep your phones and communication devices charged. Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio to receive updates in case of power outages.
Are you properly insured?
Preparing for hurricane season involves taking several steps to ensure you have the right insurance coverage. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare:
Review Your Current Insurance Policies:
- Start by reviewing your existing homeowners, renters, or business insurance policies.
- Familiarize yourself with the coverage details, deductibles, and exclusions.
- Ensure that your policy includes coverage for windstorm damage, as it is typically separate from basic property insurance.
Understand Your Insurance Needs:
- Consider the potential risks specific to your location.
- Determine whether you live in a high-risk hurricane zone and assess the vulnerability of your property.
- Take note of the coverage limits and evaluate whether they are sufficient to rebuild or repair your property in case of significant damage.
Contact Your Insurance Agent:
- Reach out to your insurance agent or company to discuss your coverage needs.
- They can provide valuable insights into the adequacy of your current policy and advise you on any additional coverage options to consider.
Purchase Flood Insurance:
- Standard homeowner's or renters' insurance policies often do not cover flood damage.
- Since hurricanes can bring heavy rainfall and storm surges, it's crucial to obtain a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or private insurers.
- Keep in mind that there may be a waiting period before the policy takes effect, so it's best to purchase it well in advance.
Consider Windstorm Insurance:
- In certain high-risk areas, windstorm coverage may be separate from basic property insurance.
- Evaluate whether your policy includes windstorm coverage or if you need to purchase it as an additional policy.
- Consult your insurance agent to understand the specific requirements and options available to you.
Document Your Belongings:
- Create a comprehensive inventory of your belongings, including photographs, videos, and receipts. This documentation will be crucial if you need to file an insurance claim.
- Store copies of these records in a safe place outside your home, such as a secure cloud storage service or a safe deposit box.
Prepare Your Property:
- Take steps to mitigate potential damage to your property. Trim trees, secure loose items, reinforce windows and doors, and consider installing hurricane shutters or impact-resistant glass.
- These measures may not only reduce damage but could also result in insurance premium discounts.
Review Your Deductible:
- Understand your insurance policy's deductible, which is the amount you'll need to pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in.
- Evaluate whether the deductible is affordable for you and consider setting aside sufficient funds to cover it in case of a claim.
Charleston has experienced significant hurricanes in the past, such as Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. These storms caused substantial damage and serve as a reminder of the importance of preparedness and safety during hurricane season.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the current hurricane season in Charleston, it's recommended to consult local weather forecasts and official sources such as the National Hurricane Center or the Charleston County Emergency Management Department.