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2023 Hurricane Season Preparedness

Ominous clouds over the ocean

 Every June through November marks hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, although hurricanes can begin earlier or run later. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a hurricane as a tropical cyclone — or rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originate over oceanic water — with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher.

Nearly half of the states in the U.S. are in hurricane-prone areas, but other states are not immune from the dangers these powerful storms create. As an example, hurricanes can cause storm surges, trigger tornadoes, and drive deadly flooding and high sustained winds well inland.

Time to prepare

While meteorologists can issue warnings that give people some time to prepare when a hurricane is developing, shifts in path, intensity and landfall location occur. Because of this unpredictability, the time to prepare for a hurricane is now. Even if a major hurricane doesn’t strike your community this season, your preparation can serve you well for other natural disasters.

Protect your family and employees

Planning, preparing and knowing what to do when a hurricane is coming can make a huge difference in safety and resiliency. A few key steps include:

  • Updating your hurricane plan and making sure everyone in your family and business understands it
  • Downloading the FEMA mobile app that offers disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips
  • Preparing an evacuation “go bag” or emergency kit using this supply list from FEMA that you can store at home or keep ready in your car

Prepare your home or business for a hurricane

During hurricanes, people can drown or be killed by blowing debris, and your home, office building and frequented roads can be destroyed. Here are some simple steps to help make your home or office safer during a hurricane:

  • Remove damaged trees and limbs that could fall on your building or break windows.
  • Fix loose gutters that could be torn off in high winds.
  • Lock storm shutters to protect windows. If you don’t have shutters, buy plywood and nail it over windows if a bad storm or hurricane is imminent.
  • Place sandbags around areas prone to flooding.
  • Secure outdoor equipment such as patio furniture and grills. Retrofitting with protective measures can be expensive, but you can do it in stages, according to the Institute for Insurance Information, which recommends:
    • Replacing gravel or rock landscaping with shredded bark, which is lighter and won’t cause as much damage when it’s blown around.
    • Making sure sliding glass doors are made of tempered glass and covered with shutters or plywood during a storm.
    • Replacing old garage doors and tracks with ones approved for wind pressure, and impact. Wind coming into your structure through such large openings could cause major problems for the rest of the building — especially the roof.

Protect your finances

Recovering from hurricane damages to your home or business requires preparation. According to the Ready Business Hurricane Tool Kit, FEMA estimates that after a hurricane 40% of small businesses won’t reopen, 25% more small businesses will close a year later, and, three years later, 75% of businesses without a continuity plan will fail. Here are a few key hurricane protection steps for your home and business:

  • Create a detailed inventory of your building contents, vehicles and equipment and their value. Load photos to the cloud. This information is vital if you have to file a claim.
  • Review your insurance coverage with a professional.
    • Understand policy details for water- and wind-related losses.
    • Consider adding dedicated flood insurance for full protection because standard homeowners, rental and business policies typically exclude flood damage.
    • Windstorm and hail damage may also require separate policies.
    • Check hurricane deductible levels to make sure you have enough savings to cover these.
    • Confirm whether you would be compensated for the actual cash value or replacement cost of damaged items.
    • Be sure you have comprehensive auto insurance which covers damage to your vehicles from high winds, water and objects that might fall, such as trees and branches.

Getting accurate information about a serious storm or hurricane heading your way is crucial. Stay up to date on watches and warnings by checking the National Hurricane Center throughout the season.

Westfield Insurance can help

When disasters strike any area, the high volume of claims can delay processing. Having access to a dedicated catastrophe team that is poised to respond at the first sign of threatening weather can help you recover from losses fast. Find a Westfield agent to get hurricane coverage for your home or business and be prepared to recover.