As extreme weather becomes more common across the state, homeowners should make sure their homes are prepared to deal with storms.
"Much of the property damage caused by extreme weather can be easily averted," said Kurt Dettmer, vice president and chief marketing officer for Fremont Insurance. "Simply keeping your structures and grounds in good repair can go a long way. That way, when severe weather threatens, a bit of picking up and latching down usually takes care of the rest."
Before the storm:
-Prepare an emergency kit to cover injury, power failure, heat loss, being stranded, and evacuation. Consider first aid and essential medications, non-perishable foods/fresh water, flashlight/fresh batteries, fire extinguisher, and protective clothing.
-Regularly inspect your home and grounds. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris to avert backups.
-Check your roof for loose or damaged shingles, seal around flashings and chimney; remove dead tree branches; check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
-Make sure the fireplace and chimney are inspected and cleaned annually.
-Weather-stripping is invaluable against destructive weather.
-Where possible, move cars, boats, other vehicles, etc., into an enclosed area.
-Finally, when storms threaten, secure or anchor loose or flyaway items too large to bring in.
After the storm:
-Inspect your home for damage, and if you find damage, take preventive action to reduce risk of further loss. If your roof is damaged, cover it as soon as possible with tarps secured with ropes and nails. If your home is badly damaged, leave until it can be properly inspected.
-Report downed or sparking power lines, broken gas, or water mains. Avoid downed power lines and standing water. Don't attempt to drive across flowing water, downed power lines or enter barricaded areas.
-If you are without power, turn off all electrical equipment and avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer to keep food safe longer.
-If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system. Do not run a generator inside the home or garage.
-During clean up, don't pile debris near power lines. Always exercise care when using a chain saw or any other power tools.
When it is safe, take photos of damaged areas and possessions. Notify your insurance agent and provide an address and phone number to reach you.
"All these safeguards are relatively inexpensive and easy to complete," said Dettmer. "Sometimes, however, despite your best efforts, weather-related property damage may occur. Plan ahead for loss. Document your belongings by video or make a list for your insurance company, and consult with your agent to ensure you have adequate coverage."
Source: Freemont Insurance