Preparing for the 2018 Florida Hurricane Season

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With less than a month left before the 2018 Hurricane Season officially begins, it’s time to think about preparing for this year’s batch of tropical storms.  Although meteorologists are now predicting fewer storms in the tropical Atlantic than last year, we know that it only takes one whopper like Hurricane Irma to wreak havoc on our lives in the days leading up to the storm and in the aftermath of assessing and repairing the damage.

So, this year, before we start hearing about storms approaching Florida, let’s take the time to prepare our homes and families.  This includes having necessary supplies on hand, having a plan for getting your home ready and keeping your family safe, and making sure you have adequate homeowners insurance.
 

Purchase Hurricane Supplies Well in Advance of a Storm

Last year, as we watched and waited for Hurricane Irma to hit Florida, stores across the state sold out of flashlights, batteries, water, wood to cover windows, and many other necessary items.  This year, promise yourself you will not wait until a storm is approaching to get the supplies you need to survive if there is a power outage.

First on the list of essential supplies is food and water.  Stock up now with at least 3 gallons of water per person in your household.  This is enough to last 3 days in case your water supply is cut off or unsafe.  You should also have at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, nutritious food items that can be prepared easily, since you may not have power for a while following a storm.

Next, make sure you have flashlights, cell phone chargers, and radios that will enable you to see and communicate if your home is without power.  Get a working flashlight for every member of your family and store it with extra batteries in a safe, easy to access location.  Head lamps are especially helpful in case you have to walk and carry things in the dark.  Also, make sure you have portable cell phone chargers so you can keep your phone charged and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio so you can stay informed about the weather conditions and environmental safety issues in case you can’t access the internet on your phone.

In addition to the radio, cell phone chargers, flashlight, and batteries, include first aid supplies, medications, and personal hygiene items in your hurricane preparation kit.  Other useful items are insect repellent, sunscreen, basic tools, extra clothing, and rain gear.  Finally, if your phone doesn’t take good pictures or if you don’t trust your chargers to keep your phone working, include a camera with your supplies so you will be able to take pictures in case damage does occur.
 

Have a Family Storm Plan

Things will go a lot smoother during a storm if your family has developed and discussed a survival plan.  Consider a checklist with assigned responsibilities to help your family stay calm and safe. For example, as a storm approaches, who is going to check the supplies and replenish items as necessary?  Who will fill the car’s gas tank?  Who will carry things from the yard inside so they won’t get damaged or cause damage?  Who will board up the windows and doors with plywood?  Who will unplug small appliances and electronic equipment?

In addition to a checklist with assigned responsibilities, consider discussing and agreeing on an evacuation plan.  Predetermining the point at which you want to leave your home, what you will take with you, the route you will take, if possible, and where you will go can help you avoid last minute confusion.
 

Review Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

Taking time now to review your homeowners insurance policy is also a good idea. Make sure your level of coverage is adequate for the value of your home and the type of coverage you have is what you want.  Some policies cover items for their cash value at the time they are damaged rather than for replacement cost, while others pay replacement costs.

It’s also a good time to assess your need for additional coverage for especially valuable items and to think about the possibility of getting flood insurance.  Many homeowners don’t realize that their insurance policy only covers water damage if it occurs because of water that did not come into contact with the ground.  Any damage from wind driven rain or similar occurrences.  If you’re concerned about a body of water near your home overflowing and getting inside your home or ground water weakening your home’s structure after heavy rains, flood insurance is a good idea.
 

Get Help from an Experienced Property Damage Attorney

Even if you have prepared as well as possible for hurricane season, a major storm can still be devastating.  We need our insurance companies to help us pay promptly for necessary repairs so we can get on with our lives.

Unfortunately, the insurance companies often do not help as much as you need them to.  They might try to pay you less than you deserve or not at all for the damage to your property.  That’s when you need an experienced Florida property damage attorney.

At HIGGS LAW, P.A. we know how important it is to get prompt help after your home has been damaged in a tropical storm.  We’ve helped many Floridians get the compensation they need from their insurance companies and want to help you skillfully navigate the claims process and get compensated fully and fairly for your property damage.

Earl I. Higgs, Jr.

For close to 20 years, Earl has devoted his practice to insurance claims and appellate cases. He has represented thousands of businesses and homeowners against insurance companies and has handled a multitude of cases involving property damage, business interruption, hurricane damage, and sinkhole claims.