Hurricane Preparedness – Are You Ready?

Today marks the start of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season and yet folks haven’t quite begun the process of boarding up their windows or securing lawn furniture. And why should they? There are no storms pestering their way up through the Caribbean or toiling with  residents on the west coast for that matter. But the mere thought that the season is upon us should have people contemplating when they should start prepping for the possibility of floods, damaging winds,  power outages, and quite simply the lack of communication.

Headlines on The Weather Channel this morning profile the “Five Most Overdue Cities,” to be hit by a major hurricane, with a large photo portraying exactly what may be in store this year. Based on previous seasons, we don’t necessarily need a picture to know how debilitating a hurricane can be. Katrina in 2005 is a constant reminder of what can go wrong. Hopefully, predictions are off, and any potential storms will simply move off to sea. Yet, as coastal residents, we owe it to ourselves to be prepared.

So before we gear up for the severe weather olympics where news reporters try to maintain composure while being pummelled with hurricane force winds, its time to make a mental checklist and plan for the possibility of a hurricane making landfall in your area. We had a spring storm here in New Hampshire this morning. The sky turned a threatening shade of purplish gray, the wind kicked up, and we had to turn on the office lights at 9 a.m. Did we have a plan for a power outage? You bet. And we do as well for a hurricane. Here is a checklist for preparing for a hurricane in your area. For a more complete guide, visit our website or logon to the pre recorded Hurricane Readiness Webinar presented last week.

  1. Make Structural Preparations – check with your local officials for hurricane building codes. Make any changes needed.
  2. Implement Building Support – Install commercial grade shutters now and store pre cut marine plywood.
  3. Verify Insurance Coverage – You can’t control a storm but you can make sure you are covered for one.
  4. Identify a Safe Room – Choose a room with interior walls or below grade location for protection and make sure your family and co-workers know where this is.
  5. Reinforce Doors – Protect loading dock and garage doors with panels with bracing so they don’t come off track.
  6. Plan – Do you have business continuity plan? What about a family emergency plan including evacuation routes? Share this plan with everyone that needs it.
  7. Disaster Supply Kit – Should include non-perishables such as bottled water, medications, flash lights and batteries. Keep one at home and work.
  8. Stay Informed Do you have a NOAA weather radio and back up batteries?
  9. Document your Belongings – Take photos and video of valuables and property.
  10. Back up Data Consider an off-site solution.
  11. Do you have a satellite phone? If not consider your options and understand how to use it before you need to.