Residents living on the east coast of the United States should take note: this year is predicted to be the most active hurricane season since 2012 with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and four major hurricanes.
Southeastern states bordering the Atlantic Ocean such as Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, are most at risk. However, anyone living in a state near the Atlantic should prepare for a potential storm.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, but storms have been known to hit at other times. For example, this year Hurricane Alex struck the Azores in mid-January.
While no major hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. in over 10 years, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina are reminders of how much damage a storm can do. Hurricane Sandy caused $50 billion in property damage in the United States. According to hurricanescience.org, Hurricane Katrina, the costliest storm to hit the country, caused about $81 billion in damage.
Hurricanes often cause other natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes. It can also bring with it winds as high as 74 mph or greater, causing destruction to homes and cars. In addition, hurricanes often cause storm surge. Storm surge is responsible for the most fatalities associated with hurricanes. It refers to the rising water that happens during a storm.
To make people more aware of how dangerous hurricanes are, as well as what safety precautions they can take, Hurricane Preparedness week takes place from May 15 to May 21.
Tips to Prepare for Hurricane Season
If you know a hurricane is coming, here are a few general tips to follow:
- Move your car to a covered garage if possible
- Clear the area around your home of debris, and keep your trees and bushes trimmed
- Bring items that could easily be blown around inside to prevent them from hitting your house. This can include patio furniture, gardening tools, and sports equipment
- Make sure all doors and windows are securely shut
If you're looking for a more in depth strategy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put together a day-by-day plan you can use during Hurricane Preparedness Week:
Sunday: Determine Your Risk
Figure out how likely it is that you'll be affected by a hurricane, as well as what the specific risks are in your location. Although hurricanes are the most intense near the coast, they can still affect areas outside of that immediate area. For instance, Pennsylvania has been affected by hurricanes even though it is not a coastal state.
Monday: Develop an Evacuation Plan
Is your home safe during a hurricane? Do you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone? Find out the answers to both these questions, and decide now where you need to go if you're told to evacuate. Possibilities include going to a friend’s or relative’s house, or possibly a shelter. Make sure others in your home know about the plan.
Tuesday: Secure an Insurance Check-Up
An important step to take to prepare for a hurricane is to look over your insurance policies for both your car and home. Although it may sound tedious, you'll be glad you have the right coverage if a storm hits your area.
Depending on your coverage, insurance will help pay for the costs to rebuild your home and pay for damages on your vehicle. For both car and homeowners insurance, it's a good idea to speak with your agent to make sure you have enough coverage in case of a hurricane.
What Kind of Car Coverage Do I Need?
To get protection for your car against natural disasters like hurricanes, you'll need more than a liability policy. Think about investing in comprehensive car insurance to protect your vehicle against wind and water damage from a hurricane.
How to Protect Your Home
Your house is typically protected against wind damage from a storm by a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you live in a high risk area, there may be a separate type of deductible for damage from hurricane force winds. To learn more about homeowners coverage for a hurricane, read our article on How to Get Hurricane Insurance.
Flood damage is a different story. You'll need to buy a separate flood insurance policy to protect your house. Thankfully, this is easy to buy, and fairly inexpensive. Even if you aren't in a high risk area for hurricanes, flood insurance is important to have. It's the most common natural disaster to occur in the United States.
Wednesday: Assemble Disaster Supplies
Prepare your own emergency kit before the storm hits. This should include anything you think you'll need during and after the storm including:
- Non-perishable food
- Phone chargers
- Extra car keys and house keys
Thursday: Strengthen Your Home
Hurricane-proof your home by retrofitting it. Here are a few ideas to make your home stronger against a storm:
- Make sure your garage door is secure. This is important because your garage door is the most susceptible to winds during a hurricane
- Check your home's foundation. You may need to add bolts or repair cracks to your foundation
- Secure your roof. Examine your roofing materials to see if they're nailed down properly
- Make sure your windows are wind resistant. Look for tested impact resistant windows or hurricane shutters
Friday: Identify Your Trusted Sources of Information for a Hurricane Event
Know what organizations to check for updates during a hurricane. Here are a few suggestions:
- NOAA National Hurricane Center
- Central Pacific Hurricane Center
- National Weather Service
- U.S. State and Territory Emergency Management Agencies
Saturday: Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan
Write out exactly what your hurricane plan entails. Buy everything you need for your emergency kit, and talk to your family members or roommates about your plan beforehand. This is important to do in advance, because chances are you'll be too overwhelmed to remember everything when a hurricane is fast approaching.