We get busy with shopping and doing all that is involved in preparing the kids to go back to school in the fall, but we must not forget that the start of school is not the end of the hurricane season. Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30 each year. Maybe you didn’t have time to even think about it at the end of the last school year, and because of vacations and summer programs, you’ve postponed your family’s hurricane preparations. It is important to have a plan and be prepared. This will help you to cope during a storm and help you to recover more easily after a storm. Resources are available to aid you in planning and preparing.
The LSU AgCenter has a free online publication, “A South Louisiana Guide to Living with Hurricanes,” which can help you to understand the risk, prepare yourself and your property to minimize damage, know when to evacuate and plan for where to go and what to take with you. You’ll need some supplies to survive in an emergency. Budget for added expenses, identify and gather what you’ll need and keep it in a central location. For more information on preparing for an evacuation, see this free LSU AgCenter publication.
Make sure you are adequately insured as a homeowner. Review your homeowner’s insurance to be sure your coverage limits match any increases in property values. Insurance coverage is available for the contents of your home and for the cost of living elsewhere while you make repairs if your home is damaged. Be aware that flood insurance does not take effect until 30 days after you purchase it. Insurance for personal property is also available for renters. Have an up-to-date inventory of your property (with video or pictures) to make it easier to make damage claims.
What important papers and documents, photo albums and other irreplaceable items are stored in low cabinets or on the floor in closets? Move them higher now. When identifying a location for flood-safe storage, don’t count on putting things in or on wood furniture, cabinets or counters. This furniture often floats and overturns in a flood. Particleboard may dissolve.
Prepare a “Grab and Go” box (preferably waterproof) for your family’s important documents. Place papers in sealed waterproof plastic bags inside a durable sealed box, in a secure and easily accessible location. This “Grab and Go” box will contain things like emergency phone numbers, copies of prescriptions, immunization records, health insurance cards or numbers, copies of insurance policies, deeds, wills, keys, checks, bank account/credit card/driver’s license/investment/social security/loan or debt obligation numbers, etc. Be sure you have an I.D. with you showing your address because re-entry to a disaster area often is restricted to residents. Keep your proof with you. For more information on what a “Grab and Go” box should include, go online to see the free “Preparing Your Evacuation ‘Grab and Go’ Box” publication by Dr. Jeanette Tucker.
Depending on where you go in an evacuation, you may or may not be able to take your family’s pet. Find out if your emergency shelter allows pets. If you have to leave your pet at home, how will it be protected from flood water and how will it be fed? Take a picture of you and your pet together for future identification. Keep the picture with your other important papers.
When you are deciding whether to evacuate your family or ride it out, remember this. . . No piece of property is worth risking your family’s life. Plan to evacuate early.