Disaster Preparedness

You see a disaster. We see a way forward.

Natural disasters are emotionally and physically difficult to face. There’s no way to know what will happen when a storm makes landfall or when a river overflows. The damage can be catastrophic even if you live inland from a coastline. And while you can’t prevent them, you can minimize the impact that hurricanes and floods can have with proper preparation.
tree on house

Here are some tips to follow to prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding.

  • Review your homeowners policy ahead of time to ensure you understand your coverage in the event of a hurricane and/or flood.
  • Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents. Floods, whether accompanied by a hurricane or not, can happen quickly and affect large areas.
  • The only way to protect your home from floodwaters is to purchase flood insurance. Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Contact your agent to see if you live in a flood hazard area and to learn more about flood insurance.
  • Homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for valuables, up to certain limits. For maximum protection, you should have jewelry, furs, silverware and other valuables appraised, then scheduled separately to your policy. You’ll get the broadest coverage possible, with no deductible. Ask your agent for more information.
  • Take an inventory of your personal property. Document this inventory with a video or photographs. Store this information and other important documents in a safe-deposit box as well as online. Learn how to create a home inventory list here.
  • Keep a list of emergency contact information for reference:
    • Local Emergency Management Office
    • County Law Enforcement, Public Safety Fire/Rescue
    • State, County and City/Town Government
    • Local Hospitals, Utilities, American Red Cross, TV Stations and Radio Stations
    • Your Insurance Agent
    • Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be your “family contact.” After a disaster, anyone not at home should check in with the contact person.
  • Install hurricane shutters or pre-cut 3/4-inch plywood shutters on each window of your house.
  • Close shutters and board up or tape windows.
  • Cut tree branches that could break windows and enter your home.
  • Turn refrigerators and freezers to coldest settings and don’t open the doors unless necessary.
  • If evacuating, lock the windows and doors of your home before leaving and turn off all utilities.
  • Bring outside objects like patio furniture or toys into the house or a secured garage.
  • Secure large items, such as boats or swing sets, to the ground.
  • Fill your car with gas.
  • First aid supplies, including sterile gauze pads, scissors, bandages, tweezers, antiseptic spray, latex gloves and a bar of antibacterial soap
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines, including non-prescription pain relievers, antacid, eye wash, rubbing alcohol, and medicine to induce vomiting in the event of poisoning
  • Battery-operated radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Spare clothes and sturdy shoes for each family member
  • Sleeping bags and a tent
  • Toilet paper and other personal hygiene items
  • Special items required for babies or pets, bottled water, and non-perishable items
  • Turn off circuit breakers.
  • Close all doors and secure all windows.
  • Fill bathtubs with water to be used for hygiene and cleaning after the storm.
  • Listen for radio or television reports from the National Weather Service and follow all instructions, particularly those for evacuation.
  • Listen to the radio or news reports to determine when it is safe to leave.
  • Be alert for tornadoes.
  • Stay away from floodwaters.
  • Boil tap water before drinking or cooking, or use bottled water.
  • Dispose of spoiled food immediately. If you have insurance coverage for spoiled food, document your loss.
  • Keep circuit breakers turned off until all power has been restored.
  • Stay away from power lines.
  • Use a flashlight. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches.
  • Once power is restored, investigate for electrical system damage. Turn off the electricity if you find frayed wires, detect a burning smell or suspect any other problems.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you detect a leak, leave the building immediately and turn off the gas at the main valve outside, if possible. Notify the gas company at once.
  • Check to see that sewer and water lines are functioning properly. If you detect a problem, do not run the tap or flush the toilet. Contact a plumber.
  • Watch for holes in the floor, loose boards or hanging plaster.
  • Take an inventory of any damaged property or possessions. Do not dispose of any items without the prior approval of your insurance claims adjuster.
  • In the event of a loss, contact the Lighthouse claims office at 877-852-0606 and a representative will assist you.
  • Keep a written record of everyone you talk to about your insurance claim, including the date of the conversation and a summary of what was said.
  • Hold off on permanent repairs until you’ve received approval for reimbursement.
  • Keep all receipts.