Tampa’s picturesque coastline easily ranks as one of the most beautiful places in the world to live because of its natural, lush, tropical beauty as well as its proximity to the gorgeous, sandy, white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. But, that amazing body of water can sometimes create some powerful storms.
Tropical storms can quickly grow into destructive hurricanes over large bodies of open water, generating extremely heavy rain and wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour. A category five hurricane will have winds in excess of 156 miles per hour. Those catastrophic storms are one reason why you need a homeowners insurance policy with a company that you can trust to be there for you when you need it the most.
The Gulf of Mexico has historically carried some of the worst hurricanes in history, causing billions of dollars in damages to those beautiful coastlines over the years. Hurricane season starts at the beginning of June and stretches until the end of November, peaking during the summer months. But, you can prepare your home for potential hurricanes.
Luckily, hurricanes won’t strike without warning so there is some time to prepare if a storm is approaching. Along with having a homeowners insurance policy in force that protects you in the event of one of these natural disasters, there are several things that can be done before the storm hits to minimize damage.
Have a Plan in Place
If you live in Tampa, don’t wait until the hurricane is on its way. Have a plan already in place for exactly what to do to protect your home and your possessions in case of a hurricane. Make sure that everyone else in the house is on the same page and act on your preparedness plan as soon as you know a hurricane is on its way.
The destructive power of these storms can sometimes significantly damage your home, between the water and wind damage, maybe even trapping you in your home.
If there hasn’t been an evacuation, and you’re riding out the storm, have a safe zone designated in case there is excessive damage during or after the storm. It could be upstairs, in the attic, or even on the roof. Just make sure everyone know where the safe zone is in case you need to use it.
Here are some things that you’d want to have in or near your safe zone.
- You’d want enough food and water to last three days. Plan for one gallon of water per person each day.
- Medications need to be in a safe place.
- You’d also need a plan for taking care of any pets.
- Always have a first aid kit available and stocked.
- An emergency radio, battery powered or hand-cranked, would come in very handy if the power is out.
- Make sure you have flashlights and plenty of batteries.
- In case you are trapped in your home by the hurricane, a whistle could help someone find you.
- A few fully-charged, backup cell phone chargers are a good idea as well.
- Make sure any important papers or documents are safe.
- Have some extra clothes, maybe even rain gear, ready.
Protect Windows and Doors
Windows can be covered with shutters or plywood to protect them from the high winds and flying debris. It’s a good idea to protect the inside of the windows as well in case the outer protection fails. And, if you need to buy plywood, you won’t be the only one looking for it. Buy it early.
Doors need to be able to withstand the strong winds, and they need to be sealed to protect your home from the onslaught of rainwater. It’s also a good idea to reinforce the doors from the inside with some added support.
Secure the Roof and Gutters
You want the roof to be as strong as possible to withstand the force of the wind. Any loose shingles or tiles should be repaired. They are protecting your home from water damage.
Check the gutters and downspouts to make sure there aren’t any blockages. You’ll want all of that water flowing away from your home.
Trees and Shrubs
Smaller trees and shrubs could be tied down to make them more resistant to the high winds. You’d also want to make sure that any overgrown trees or bushes are cut or trimmed. The wind can quickly turn them into flying projectiles.
Secure the Exterior
Everything outside needs to be secured. Lawn furniture, potted plants, lawn decorations, ornamental fences, grills, and anything else that could be potentially blown away needs to be either tied down or moved inside.
If you are lucky enough to have a generator in case of a loss of power, make sure you have enough gas to last for a few days. It will take several gallons a day to keep it running, depending on how much power you are using. And, keep the gas in a safe place.
Move all of your dried foods to shelves that are several feet off of the ground if possible. And, keeping your refrigerator and freezer full will help them hold their temperature longer if there is a power outage.
Know Where the Mains Are Located
Depending on how hard your home is hit by the hurricane, knowing where your water, gas, and electricity shut-off valves are could be vital information, saving your home from further damage.
Protect Your Home’s Lower Level
Flooding is one of the biggest hazards associated with hurricanes. If you have an upstairs, you can move things away from the path of water. You can also elevate furniture to keep it safe from flooding. Smaller items can even be wrapped in plastic bags to keep them safe.
They will be completely exposed to the force of the storm, even if they’re covered. Here a few precautions to take with pools.
- Hurricanes can unload several inches of rain in a short time. You’l want to drain a few inches of water out of the pool so it doesn’t overflow.
- Make sure any pool furniture, accessories, and tools are secured or stored inside.
- Turn off the electricity to the pump in case of any power surges or flooding issues.
Trailers and Boats
The winds can be strong enough to pick up trailers and boats on your property. You’d want to have them securely lashed down or stored inside if possible.
Keep Your Personal Possessions Inventoried
It’s always a good idea to keep your insurance updated as you acquire possessions, especially items of value.
In Case of Evacuation
Regardless of how well you have prepared your home for hurricane season, if a mandatory evacuation is declared, leave your property. Now, it becomes a matter of your personal safety.
And, once the evacuation is announced, time is of the essence. You don’t want to be stranded in heavy traffic trying to get to a safe place to weather out the storm.
Webb Insurance Group is ready to help you make sure that your home is fully prepared for the upcoming hurricane season, and we understand the importance of having a homeowners insurance policy that adequately protects your financial interests. Give us a call today and let us take some of the worry out of dealing with the wrath of Mother Nature so you can enjoy life and not worry about the what-ifs.