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Tips for Weathering Hurricane Season

Experts are predicting a 51 percent chance that a major hurricane will hit the East Coast before the hurricane season ends in December. Similarly, the chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas, is predicted at 50 percent. Both predictions are well above long-term averages, which signals a potentially active hurricane season.

The Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science expects ten Atlantic Ocean hurricanes this year, five of which they say will be intense, ranging from Category 3 (111 mph) to Category 5 (sustained winds of 156 mph or more).

While 2009 was a below average year, it was just a few years ago that hurricanes Katrina and Rita physically devastated the Gulf Coast. Some areas still have not fully recovered.

Imagine how you would feel realizing the day after a hurricane tears through your neighborhood that you don’t have wind or flood insurance, which together provide the bulk of coverage against hurricane damage.

Review Your Policy

If you live in a coastal area, your homeowners’ insurance policy probably doesn’t provide wind coverage, let alone hurricane coverage. Flood insurance is also not included in your typical homeowners’ policy. Consider that many homes in Mississippi affected by Hurricane Katrina’s flooding were not in designated flood zones and were uninsured. In fact, 25% of all flood insurance claims are paid on homes in low to moderate risk areas.

A separate policy protecting your home against flood damage is a wise, relatively inexpensive investment. The federal government by way of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) backs flood coverage. You should also be sure you are covered for wind damage.

Here are some hurricane season tips from the National Hurricane Center:

Secure Your Home

-Protect areas where wind and water can enter your home.

-One of the best ways to protect a home from windstorm damage is to install impact-resistant shutters over all large windows and glass doors to protect the doors and windows from wind-borne objects. They may also reduce damage caused by sudden pressure changes when a window or door is broken.

Family Disaster Plan

-Discuss the types of hazards that could affect your family.

-Locate the safest area to be in your home within your community.

-Have predetermined escape routes and places to meet.

-Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact so all your family members have a single point of reference.

-Have a pet plan in the event you need to evacuate.

-Post emergency phone numbers and be sure children know how to use the 911 system.

-Buy a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio and replace the batteries every six months.

-Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.

-Keep stock of nonperishable emergency supplies and have a disaster supply kit that includes:

1.   One gallon of water daily per person for three to seven days.

2.   Enough nonperishable food and juices for three to seven days.

3.   Cooking tools (including a non-electric can opener), fuel, paper plates and utensils.

4.   Pet care items including proper identification, immunization records, medication, an ample supply of food and water, a carrier or kennel and a muzzle and leash.

5.   Blankets and pillows.

6.   Medication/prescriptions.

7.   Cash (an ATM will not work without power).

8.   Important documents (keep in a waterproof container).

9.   Toys, books and games.