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Hurricane Planning 101 – Preparing Your Home/Family – Part 1


It’s ever too early to begin your hurricane planning. Hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th each year, peaking in September.  However, hurricanes can occur prior to or after the formal season.  Preparing in advance and updating your plan on at least an annual basis is the most effective strategy one can have to protect his or her home and family.  A “contingency” plan is not just for hurricanes!  These smart tips can apply to almost any disaster which can threaten your home or family.  Unlike other severe weather threats, such as tornados and fires, hurricanes typically come with notice, giving the homeowner a few days to make final preparations.  Still, trying to come up with a plan as a hurricane approaches will not be successful.  Developing a plan and reviewing it with family members in advance of a storm will give the homeowner plenty of time to execute his or her plan thereby increasing the likelihood of success.

Know the Terms:

Understanding the terms used to describe the threat of a hurricane can help determine the severity of an impending storm and how best to respond.

CategorySustained WindsTypes of Damage
Tropical Storm39MPH – 73MPHFlooding can occur causing property damage and impeding travel.
Category 1 Hurricane74MPH – 95MPHVery dangerous winds will produce some damage:  Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding, gutters. Large branches of trees may snap and trees with shallow roots may topple. Extensive damage to power lines and poles will likely result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
Category 2 Hurricane96MPH – 110MPHExtremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage.  Many trees with shallow roots will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.  Near total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
Category 3 Hurricane111MPH – 129MPHDevastating damage will occur:  Well built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends.  Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.  Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
Category 4 Hurricane130MPH – 156MPHCatastrophic damage will occur:  Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls.  Most trees will be snapped, or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.  Power outages will last weeks to possibly months.  Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5 Hurricane157MPH – HigherCatastrophic damage will occur:  A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse.  Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.  Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months.  Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Hurricane Watch:  Hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours; preparations should be well underway.

Hurricane Warning:  Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours; preparations should be rushed, if not already completed.

Storm Surge:  Storm surge is the most dangerous component of a hurricane.  This is a wave of ocean water that can be 20 feet high at its peak and 50-100 miles wide.  Many hurricane fatalities are attributable to storm surge.

Wind:  A hurricane is a tropical storm, with sustained winds greater than 74 mph.  These winds can extend inland for hundreds of miles.  Hurricanes can also spawn tornadoes.

Rain:  Because of the tropical nature of hurricanes, they contain rain, which can be torrential and cause floods and flash floods.


Hurricane Planning Tip #1: Develop A Plan BEFORE the Hurricane

1. Hold a Family Meeting

Discuss the threats associated with hurricanes.  Encourage children to talk about their fears and discuss the steps your family will take to keep everyone safe. Create a list of tasks to be handled before the hurricane season and encourage everyone to add to the list

2. Determine Whether You Will Need to Evacuate

Confirm whether you live in an evacuation zone and, if so, where you will go if an evacuation order is given.  Going to a family or friend’s house or hotel outside of the evacuation area is a good choice. If you go out of town, leave plenty of time as traffic may be very slow and gas may be limited. Shelters provide for basic needs and are usually the choice of last resort.

3. Insurance

Create a home inventory with video or photos of home and valuables. Review insurance policies before the hurricane season to make sure there is adequate coverage. Once a hurricane watch has been issued, insurers will not issue new or additional coverage.

4. Check Your Property for Vulnerable Areas

Walk your home and property before the hurricane season and address issues that could be problematic, such as roof, windows, garage door, landscaping, etc.

5. Plan to Protect Your Vehicles

Decide where you will park your vehicle, boat, or RV.  Check your vehicle insurance policies and keep in a safe place with your homeowner’s policy.

6. Secure Your Home

Determine what actions you need to take before the hurricane season to protect your home and property and keep as comfortable as possible during a hurricane.  Reinforce windows and doors, cut back landscaping, purchase or test generator, etc.

7. Develop A Plan for Anyone with Special Needs

If someone in your home has special needs, prepare in advance to accommodate them.

8. Plan for Your Pets

Do you have dogs, cats, birds, or horses?  Determine how you will address your pets’ needs and include this in your plan, especially if you must evacuate.

9. Gather Your Supplies

Determine your family’s food, water, and medical needs and build your disaster supply kit according to those needs.  Let’ children participate and don’t forget about your pets!


Evacuation is Recommended If Your Family:

  • Lives in an evacuation zone
  • Lives in a mobile home.
  • Lives in an area that floods easily
  • Lives along the coastline
  • Includes elderly persons, persons in marginal health, or with special needs.

What to Do if Your Family is Evacuating:

During a Hurricane Watch:

  • Review personal or family plan with family and friends.
  • Important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, passport, checking and bank account files, vehicle titles, insurance policies should be copied and secured.
  • If you live in an evacuation zone, decide where and when to evacuate; let someone know; pack important documents, medications, and evacuation supplies. Plan to leave as early as possible once evacuation orders are issued.
  • Make transportation arrangements if you do not drive.
  • Confirm arrangements for pets if you cannot take them with you.
  • Get cash and safely store valuables while you are away from your home.
  • Install shutters, wood, or other protective devices.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • Secure watercraft, if appropriate.
  • Secure loose items outdoors; bring patio furniture indoors.
  • Stay tuned to local radio and television stations for weather updates and information.

During a Hurricane Warning:

  • Fill tubs with water.
  • Turn off automatic lawn sprinkler systems
  • Unplug appliances and turn off electricity except your refrigerator and freezer. This will reduce potential damage to your appliances and the risk of fire from power surges. Turn off the main water valve.
  • Leave promptly, preferably during daylight. Cars should be packed early; expect extreme delays on evacuation routes.
  • Bring a copy of important documents with you or leave a copy with a family member.
  • Bring emergency supplies. Note: firearms, explosive devices, intoxicating beverages, and illegal drugs are not permitted in a shelter.
  • Continue to monitor local media reports.

Suggested Items for an Evacuation Kit:

  • Personal hygiene items
  • Important documents and phone numbers
  • Pillow, blankets
  • Books, games
  • Maps
  • Extra sets of clothing
  • Needed medication
  • Driver’s License and other forms of identification
  • Health insurance cards
  • Cash
  • Personal items such as eyeglasses, hearing aid, etc.
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Infant food and supplies
  • Cell phone charger

Create an Inventory of Important Documents:

  • Insurance policies and inventory of covered items (art, furniture, household items, jewelry, etc.)
  • Bank and savings accounts, investment accounts
  • Mortgage Ownership papers
  • List of phone numbers of family, friends, caregivers, physician, pharmacy, etc.
  • Medical information copy of prescriptions, health insurance, Medicare cards
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security Card
  • Immunization records
  • Voter Registration

When it comes to hurricane planning, first ensure the safety of you and your loved ones, then call Bellissima to ensure the safety of your valuables. Call us today! 866.554.6011

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