2014 Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery Resources

 

Prepare and recover using the following information provided by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS):  

National Hurricane Center Advisories

Quick guide to what you can do now to prepare:

  • Shutters: Install the hardware needed to put up shutters or pre-cut plywood to protect windows and doors now. This will allow for easier installation if the storm threatens your area.

  • Surroundings: Bring in any loose items, such as garbage cans and lawn furniture, and pick up any debris in the yard that can act as a projectile during high winds, before a storm arrives.

  • Trees: Trim your risk of damage by cutting weak tree branches, along with branches that are positioned over structures, which could be broken off by high winds and cause property damage.

  • Seals: Make sure caulking around windows and doors is in good shape and not cracked, broken or missing, and fill any holes or gaps around pipes or wires that enter your building.

  • Roofs: Inspect your roof and overhang to look for signs of wear or damage, and to ensure it is well-connected to the roof sheathing. Learn more about how to strengthen your roof against high winds and wind-driven rains.

  • Attached Structures: Inspect porches, carports, entryway canopies and storage sheds to make sure they are firmly attached and in sound structural condition.

  • Sump Pumps & Drains: Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.

 

Quick Links

Preparation Resources 

- Disaster Planning App – Know Your Plan

- IBHS Brochures

- Prepare Surroundings and Trees

- Shutter Windows and Doors

- Prepare for Flooding

- Prepare Generators

- Business Preparation Resources

 


Recovery Resources

You Can Go Home Again

Getting Back to Business

Avoid Falling Victim To A Contractor Scam 

Making Repairs If Your Property Is Damaged

Choosing a Reputable Contractor

Recover – After A Flood

Using Generators Safely

Safe Use of Alternative Heating Sources

 

Preparation Resources

Download this free disaster planning app for iPhone, iPad & iTouch

IBHS Brochures

Reducing the Risk of Tree Damage

Hurricane Shutter Guide

Manufactured Home Checklist

Reducing the Risk of Hurricane Damage (English)

Reducing the Risk of Hurricane Damage (Spanish)

 

THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE: 

Personal Preparedness Kit: Resources from the Red Cross 

Property Preparedness

Prepare Surroundings and Trees

Evaluate the Risk

LOOK AROUND YOUR PROPERTY

  • Do you have lawn chairs or other furniture outside? Do you have lightweight yard structures or other types of decorative items on the lawn? If so, any of these items could easily be picked up by high winds. Once airborne, these items can smash into the side of your home, business or a neighboring property and damage siding and windows.

  • Do you have large trees near your home or business? If so, keep the trees trimmed. Weak and low-hanging branches can easily be damaged in high winds and strike anything in the surrounding area. Heavy rains also can weaken tree roots, causing large trees to topple over onto your property. Consult an arborist for detailed instruction on protecting your trees in hurricane-prone areas.

Prepare the Yard

  • Weakened sections of trees and shrubbery can easily be blown around during a hurricane, causing extensive damage to structures, knocking down utility lines and blocking roads and drains. Take action now to reduce the risks of property damage caused by tree limbs and shrubbery.

  • Cut weak branches that could easily be thrown against a structure due to high winds. Also, reduce the chances of branches becoming weak by not allowing any to become more than 5 feet in length and by removing the amount of Spanish moss growing on limbs.

  • Remove any branches that are positioned over a structure that could easily cause damage by breaking off.

  • Trim away any limbs close to utility lines that could potentially pull down lines or even entire polls. It is important to never touch a wire and trimming should usually be done by a contractor or the local utility company itself.

  • Remove yard debris promptly in order to reduce the risks of flying debris during a hurricane’s strong winds. It is also important to place yard debris in an area that could not cause the debris to go into streets and eventually clog drains.

Secure Yard Objects

  • High winds can quickly pick up any yard object that isn’t well anchored or heavy enough to resist the uplift forces. These objects have the potential to cause significant damage to anything in the surrounding areas.

  • When a hurricane is threatening, move yard furniture, garden spheres or gnomes, signs, garbage cans, and potted plants into a covered area.

  • Before a hurricane threatens, secure the parts of a fence that appear weakened or loose. Hurricane-force winds can easily dislodge boards and pieces from a fence creating flying debris.

  • Anchor heavier yard objects deep into the ground.

Shutter Windows and Doors

Watch the video below to see how leaving just one window or door unprotected can lead to catastrophic damage in a hurricane:

Using Plywood to Cover Windows and Doors

If a hurricane is threatening and you do not yet have shutters, use plywood only as a last-minute alternative. If used, the plywood it must be properly fastened to provide optimal protection.

What you Should Buy:

  • 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. CDX plywood available in 4′x8′ sheets; Orient Strand Board (OSB) not recommended; Use two layers of 3/8in. material to obtain the same effect as one layer of 3/4 in. material.

  •  Anchors and fasteners for masonry or wood installation. Pre-install anchors for quicker assembly when a hurricane threatens. 

  • Peel and stick weather stripping

Plywood should not be used to cover openings larger than 4 ft. x 8 ft. unless additional framing is added. 

What Will It Cost?

Material costs: vary by region. In times of storm activity, price gouging – although illegal – has been a problem. Contact your state law enforcment agency if this occurs. Installation costs: $1-$2 for DIY; $3-$5 for installation by a carpenter or contractor

Helpful hint from IBHS engineers: Attaching weather stripping to top and sides of panels, where they come into contact with a wall, may provide extra protection against water intrusion. 

If You Have Shutters:

  • Install permanent fasteners long before storm warnings, so panels can be put in place quickly and time can be spent focusing on other needs.

Prepare for Flooding

When flooding is imminent or a hurricane is on the way:

  • Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.

  • Roll up area rugs and carpeting, where possible, and store these on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.

  • Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and first floor levels.

  • Anchor fuel tanks. An unanchored tank can be torn free by floodwaters, and the broken supply line can cause contamination or, if outdoors, can be swept downstream and damage other property.

  • Prepare an evacuation kit with important papers, insurance documents, medications and other things you may need if you are forced to be away from your home or business for several days.

  • Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.

  • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.

  • Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. 

Prepare Generators

Testing Generators Before You Need Them 

  • Generators — portable or permanently installed — require the use of fuel. Diesel fuel is more prone to oxidation than gasoline, and should never be stored for longer than 12 months.

  • Many generators use fuel filters to prevent impurities from clogging the fuel lines. Fuel filters should be maintained in accordance with the equipment manufacturers’ recommendations to prevent this problem.

  • Proper coolant level is critical to the operation of a generator. Check coolant levels prior to start up.

  • Like any engine, a generator uses oil. Use the right type of oil, maintain the proper oil level and change the oil when it appears dirty.

  • Check that all air vents or louvers are in good condition, free of dirt and debris, and, if required, that they move freely during operation.

  • Visually inspect the condition of all hoses, gaskets and gauges to ensure these are free of cracks and operational without leaks.

  • At start up, check that operating pressures and temperatures are stable and within the manufacturers design parameters.

  • Also, when the engine is running, check for unusual engine noise and knocking. If there are any unusual sounds, turn the generator off and have it inspected by a professional.

  • Top off all liquids at the conclusion of the test.

  • Do not tamper with safety devices or attempt to repair the generator unless you are a qualified service person.

  • The total electrical load on your generator should never exceed the manufacturer’s rating. 

Business Preparation Resources

1. Verify Employee Contact Information

Accurate contact information is one of the most important components of any business operation and it is even more critical in an emergency. Knowing how to reach your employees and vendors is a vital part of helping your business to quickly recover from a disaster.

  • Send a memo asking employees to update their contact information. This will help you to check on their well being and share next steps for resuming normal business operations.
     
  • Update your supplier and vendor contact information, as well as other important contacts such as your bank or insurance carriers.

2. Update Critical Business Functions

The OFB-EZ (Open for Business-EZ) program includes forms that can help you to prioritize which business functions are most critical for continuing operations in an emergency situation.

Critical business functions can change from year to year. Review your existing disaster plan to account for any changes such as the addition of new business systems, products and employees.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. How much downtime can my business tolerate without a significant financial impact?

  2. Which functions are necessary in order to fulfill legal or regulatory obligations?

  3. What business functions are essential for maintaining market share and reputation?

Be sure to prioritize each function (high, medium or low) and determine who among your staff is responsible.

Record detailed notes outlining the steps that should be taken in common disaster scenarios, such as power outages, damage to equipment, natural disasters.

Work with your employees so that they fully understand the procedures for recovering the critical business functions. Name an alternate employee to take charge should the primary employee be unavailable to perform the function. Advance planning will help everyone to recognize their responsibilities.

3. Prepare Your Recovery Location

If your plans include the use of a recovery location, which is an alternative site for business operations, take time to review your needs to be certain the location is still adequate.

Be sure the location is equipped with any special supplies or equipment that will be needed to continue business operations. It is also a good idea to contact the recovery location provider before the season starts so that you can review plans and ensure that your requirements are still being met.

 

Recovery Resources

IBHS Brochures

You Can Go Home Again

Getting Back to Business

 

Avoid Post-Disaster Scams:

Advice for Choosing a Repair Professional

Experts from the National Crime Insurance Bureau and other insurance organizations have this advice for homeowners planning repair work after a natural disaster:

  • Be suspicious of any contractor who tries to rush you to make decisions, particularly if the repairs are not an emergency or the work is temporary. 

  • Immediately dismiss any contractor who claims to be backed by the government since the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors or loan companies. 

  • Ask to see the primary contractor’s driver’s license and write down the license number and the license plate number of their vehicle.

  • Request proof of liability and workers comp insurance.

  • Never allow a contractor to discourage you from contacting your insurance company.

Making Repairs If Your Property is Damaged

Choosing a Roofing Professional 

Roof Inspection Checklist

Re-Roofing the Right Way

Preventing Future Water Damage 

Reducing Future Flood Risks

Recover – After a Flood:

  • As soon as it is safe to do so, disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and move it to a dry location.

  • Remove as much standing water as possible from inside the building.

  • Remove water-damaged materials immediately.

  • Ventilate with fans or use dehumidifiers to dry out the house.

  • Acting quickly can increase the chance of salvaging usable materials, reduce the amount of rust, rot and mold that might develop, and limit the likelihood of structural problems.

Using Generators Safely:

A generator poses certain risks that must be addressed for safe operation, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death to people operating the generator or in the building where it is being used. 

FACTS ABOUT PORTABLE GENERATORS

  • Portable generators are less expensive to purchase and install than permanent (standby) generators. Without a supplemental fuel supply, they have a relatively short run-time and may need to be refueled several times a day during a prolonged power outage.

  • Most portable generators are designed to work with a few appliances or pieces of electrical equipment that may be plugged directly into the generator without the use of a generator transfer switch.

  • This type of generator be could especially useful, but it isn’t recommended if you are operating sensitive equipment or have numerous large appliances or business machines.

  • When using a portable generator, you also will have to purchase an electric power cord to feed the electrical equipment.

  • This should be a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord sized for the total electrical load (voltage and amps) you may need.

  • Choose a cord that exceeds the total expected load in order to prevent excessive heat buildup and degradation of the power cord.

  • Ensure that the cord has three prongs and has no splits, cuts or holes in the external insulation covering.

  • An overloaded power cord can potentially start a fire.

SAFETY ISSUES

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from engine exhaust is a common and serious danger that can result in death if generators are used improperly, in particular, if the fuel is not burned completely.

  • Because CO is invisible and odorless, business and/or building owners should install a CO detector to warn of rising CO levels, and test it monthly.

  • Never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents, or air intakes that could allow CO to come indoors.

  • Maintain plenty of air flow space around the generator.

  • When using an emergency electric power generator, get fresh air immediately if you begin to feel flu like symptoms, sick, dizzy or light headed.

  • Carefully follow all instructions on properly “grounding” the generator.

  • Keep the generator dry. If needed, operate portable generators under an open canopy type structure. Short circuits may occur in wet conditions resulting in the generator catching fire.

FUEL

  • Store fuel in an approved storage container or holding tank designed for such use, and only use fuel that is recommended in the owner’s manual. Never store fuel indoors.

  • Do not keep fuel near the electric generator while the electric generator is in use, as it could start a fire.

  • Never refuel while the generator is running, and always keep a fully charged fire extinguisher located nearby.

  • Keep cords out of the way to avoid injury, but in plain view to allow for visual inspections of any damage, such as fraying or cuts, that could result in a fire.

AVOID BACK FEEDING

  • Do not “back feed” power into your electrical system by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. Back feeding will put you and potentially others, including utility line workers, at serious risk because the utility transformer can increase the low voltage from the generator to thousands of volts. Some states have laws that make the generator owner responsible for taking steps to make sure that the generator’s electricity cannot feed back into the power lines, and for notifying the local utility of the location of any commercial, industrial, or residential generator.

  • The exterior portions of a generator, even those operated for only a short period of time, can become hot. Avoid touching the generator without protective gear and keep debris clear to avoid a fire.

Find Additional Guidance for Using Commercial Generators