The past two weeks have showcased the unstoppable fury of Mother Nature. Hurricane Harvey roared through Texas leaving massive destruction in his wake and now Irma is doing the very same in the Caribbean, with her sights set on Florida. While the majority of weather experts are not saying that Irma will make it as far north as our region, this storm is a MAJOR wake up call to be prepared. Hurricane season is far from over* and taking the time now to prepare will ensure greater safety for you, your family and your property.
So let’s look at what you should do now so you are prepared for the worst.
- Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local officials for more information. Also understand what it means if you choose to ignore a mandatory evacuation. Most officials will tell you this means they will NOT send help until the storm has passed and it is safe to send in help.
- Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to leave your home.
- If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, have adequate emergency supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
- Create a family emergency communication plan, and share with your family. This should include any children that may be away at school. It’s very important that they know where you will be in case of an emergency.
- Sign up for your community’s emergency alert system if available. Westerly has the “Code Red” alert system; and Stonington utilizes “Stonington Alerts” for all community emergency notifications.
Next we will look at ways to prepare your home/property to best weather a storm.
- A major cause of damage is not just the wind and water from the storm, but the impact these forces have on our property. Take the time now to inspect your property for any items that could become airborne during a storm and have a plan where to store them. Look at your trees and remove any branches that appear to be rotted. A controlled removal is far better then a branch taking out your garage or worse your neighbor’s car.
- Check and secure your gutters and downspouts and while you’re at it, clear any debris from the gutters and downspouts to allow water to flow properly.
- You can reduce storm damage by retrofitting your roof, windows and doors. This is a significant investment that could save you a lot of headaches and money in the future.
- If your area historically loses power consider investing in a generator.
This is a great start to ensuring that you are prepared well in advance of any potential storms that may head our way. Trust me, the time to prepare is NOT when the storm is knocking on your door!
*The most active period of Hurricane Season is from mid-August to late October.