A Hurricane Season Checklist

Hurricane season does not officially start until June 1, but National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 25-31) provides time for home and business owners to take steps to protect their property. While forecasters are predicting a slightly quieter than normal season, one strong storm can disrupt businesses, impact the infrastructure and displace hundreds of residents. The checklists below provide practical steps to take before the summer storm season begins.

Start with an inspection of outside spaces:

  • Make sure that gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and drain away from the structure.
  • Landscaping should not allow water to collect next to the foundation of the building. Remove any damaged or low-hanging branches.
  • Check low-lying areas that are vulnerable to water and ensure that they drain away from any basements or foundations.
  • Inspect the seals of windows and doors along the frames to check for cracks and ensure they are not compromised in any way. "Windows are one of the four most vulnerable areas in the home," says Matthew Minerd of Simonton Windows.
  • Look for items that can become projectiles during heavy winds and move them to a protected area or secure them in some manner.

Companies can take a number of steps to minimize business interruption and protect important records.

  • Back-up all records and store the back-ups off site.
  • Have mops, buckets, tarps and a wet/dry vacuum on hand in case of leaks or flooding. Placing tarps over computers and other electronics can minimize damage later.
  • Store all paper records off of the floor. In the case of a flood or water leak, they can become instant casualties.
  • Walk through the basement or any offices on a lower level to see what furniture, records or electronics could be compromised or damaged during any flooding, and move them to a higher location or place them in protective containers.
  • Take a video inventory of each office and its contents for insurance purposes.

It's easy to become complacent when storms haven't been a recent threat. In addition to the recommendations above, homeowners should also prepare for hurricanes and summer storms by:

  • Doing a full inventory of their home(s) and contents – Going room by room with a video camera and taking photos with a digital camera provides a quick inventory of collectibles, works of art, antiques and other irreplaceable items. The inventory should be stored somewhere other than the home.
  • Collecting insurance policies pertaining to the home and being familiar with what they do and do not cover. Insurance agents can do a review of policy limits and exclusions.
  • Preparing supplies in case of a power outage or evacuation – stock up on essentials like batteries, bottled water, canned goods, flashlights, etc.
  • Identifying areas vulnerable to water in and around the house, and clearing all drains.
  • Planning ahead to move boats, water craft, motorcycles, bicycles, all-terrain vehicles and other modes of transportation in the event of a flood.

Forecasters anticipate a quieter than normal hurricane season for the Atlantic with 11 named storms, five hurricanes and only two that will reach Category 3 or higher. WSI meteorologist Ray Hawthorne says it doesn't matter how many storms are forecast, only which ones make landfall. "In 1992, Hurricane Andrew was the only storm to make landfall in a year where fewer than average storms were forecast." Andrew did $26 billion in damage then, which would cost close to $44 billion today or almost equal the damage created by Hurricane Sandy two years ago.

Finally, don't forget to check with the David E. Zeller Insurance Agency located in Lynn, MA 01901 for the best Hurricane Insurance and Protection possible.