As the nation marks 2022 National Hurricane Preparedness Week and coastal residents gear up for the June 1 beginning of hurricane season, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) is sharing steps to save lives, protect homes, and preserve peace of mind. The steps outlined at www.hurricanestrong.org include free and low-cost strategies with an emphasis on early prep to avoid more expensive, last-minute options.
The heightened emphasis on affordability comes following an annual FLASH survey of 500 residents across ten hurricane-prone states that revealed a need to prepare on a reduced budget. Nearly 30% of survey respondents reported a willingness to spend $50 or less, double the 2021 percentage when 15% reported a spending target of $50 or less.
Free and low cost (<$50) steps include the examples below:
- FREE – Know Your Evacuation Zone: Determine whether you can shelter in place safely at home or if you live in a storm surge evacuation zone or other high-risk location. Find your evacuation zone using the online listing here and identify a backup site with family or friends to avoid overcrowding shelters. Monitor local news and heed evacuation orders when hurricane watches and warnings occur.
- FREE – Create an Emergency Plan: Gather your family and make plans to ensure you know where to meet and how you will communicate in an emergency. Address household needs, especially for the elderly and pets. Identify a family meeting place near and away from home, designate out-of-state emergency contacts, and practice your plans by holding a family drill.
- UNDER $50 – Build a Disaster Supply Kit: Collect and build up the supplies you will need to spread the cost over time. Keep water and nonperishable foods like peanut butter and jelly available and replenished in a power outage. Use this checklist to ensure you have everything you may need, including cash, flashlights, medicine, and tarps.
- FREE – Strengthen Your Home: Look up the building code followed to construct your home at Inspect2Protect.org and secure recommendations for strengthening based on your home’s age, location, and practices during the build year. Recommendations are classified by both impact and cost and include DIY options.
- UNDER $50 – Follow this checklist if you do not have hurricane shutters or impact-resistant windows. Start securing your supplies now to avoid last-minute shortages and spread emergency board-up costs over time. Soffits are horizontal surfaces on the underside of your roof eaves that help resist wind and keep water out of your attic. They can allow wind-driven rain to cause catastrophic and costly water damage when they blow in. Use caulk and follow the DIY steps in this checklist to reinforce soffits and ensure they stay in place in hurricane winds.
- FREE – Have an Insurance Checkup: Contact your insurance company or agent today and review your insurance coverages to avoid costly surprises if a hurricane damages your home. Ask all the questions outlined in this checklist and be sure you discuss flood insurance. Make sure you understand all deductibles, co-pays, and zero deductible protection like food spoilage coverage to maximize your policy benefits. Remember, flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period. You cannot buy it or any new insurance once hurricane watches and warnings occur.
- FREE – Create an Insurance Home Inventory: Follow the steps in this checklist to create or update your home inventory, and you will have what you need to make a complete hurricane insurance claim. Current, detailed written, photographic, or video proof of your home contents and belongings with purchase date, price, and serial number will make the process more efficient. It will save time and reduce stress after the storm as well.
- FREE – Help Your Neighbor and Community: Once you and your family are prepared, you can help individual family members or friends who are especially vulnerable and need help preparing, surviving, and recovering from hurricanes. Your act of service may be as straightforward as helping an elderly neighbor put up shutters or contact loved ones or more formal with CPR or other training required. If you need help finding a volunteer opportunity, contact your local or state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) at www.nvoad.org.
Visit the free online #HurricaneStrong preparation center to learn more, download checklists, or contact an expert.