Preparing for Hurricane Season

Fri, Mar 18, 2016

General Legal Issues

13567086525_676b40f9ab_b (1)Hurricane season will be here before you know it! It’s time to get your house, your supplies, and your backup plans in order to weather the storm.

A good first step is to do an outside inspection. Check for anything loose on your roof, soffit, or fascia. This could spell disaster in case of high winds. Then try to safely do a quick inspection to see if you need to repair any holes or areas on the roof that could leak. Chimneys, skylights and vents can be a way for water to enter your home. It’s important to make sure those areas are especially sealed well. Make sure you get anything of concern checked out or have them checked over by a professional from the start. Home inspectors can do inspections even after you buy the home; you might call it a maintenance inspection, and isn’t a bad idea at all to do from time to time.

Once you check out your roof area, the windows and doors should be checked. Are they sealed well? Any leaks or ways for water to come in? In addition, high winds can rip doors off their hinges, so make sure everything closes and locks securely. Then, look at the screens on your porch or pool area:  A small rip could easily become a big one.

Next, check for flooding hazards. Are there any areas you need to seal up to avoid water intrusion from the ground up? Moreover, what about the trees? Do they need to be trimmed back or down? Do any trees need to be removed? In addition, while you are looking up, make sure you check to see if you have any concerns about power lines or other types of utility lines that might be hanging low or near trees. Contact the proper utility to address these concerns.

Then look at any other area of your home that could be especially susceptible to high winds and large amounts of rain or flooding. Get these checked out now — don’t wait until the last minute like everyone else.  Repairs can get tricky when everyone wants one at once.

Once you have a good picture of what’s going on outside your home, develop a plan of how you will store outside items that may be blown around or might float around in case of flooding. These include pool furniture, plants, decorations, wind chimes, and anything else you can think of that might be a mistake to leave out in a hurricane.

Once you know your outside is secure (and how to secure what already isn’t), look around inside. Do you have the right supplies if you have to hole up for a few days without power? Some good choices are canned foods, jugs of water, batteries, flashlights, battery powered radios, hand sanitizer, cash, medicines, and the like. A good list of supplies can be found on WWSB Channel 40’s website.

Another important thing to do is to create a family plan for what you will do in case of disaster. Do you know what shelter to head to? Do you know the best evacuation routes? Do you know the best way to contact each other and other family members if you are separated? What will you do with your pets? Make sure you plan for the terrible circumstances that a storm can bring.

Next, make sure that you know how to reach copies of important documents quickly and take them with you if you need to evacuate. Have backups of important photos and documents stored in a safe place that won’t be ruined by the storm. You need to know how to access your important information if a time comes when the copies are lost, so be sure you take stock of where your insurance is held, what credit cards you carry, and the like.

Then, make sure that your will and estate-planning documents are in order and that you discuss any changes that need to be made with the proper professional.

Lastly, make sure your insurance documents are up to date, policies are active, and you have the coverage you need. You should understand what your policies cover and how to start a claim should you need to. Make sure your coverage is still adequate.

The CDC has more ideas for how to prepare well for an impending hurricane.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, family law, estate planning, real estate, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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