Property loss can strike anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. However, you can still control how you prepare for and respond to any such loss. Below is some basic information that may help you prepare for the unknown. This is provided for information purposes only, and it does not supplement or amend the terms or conditions of your policy.
Disclaimer: The preparation and prevention advice contained herein is by no means exhaustive and may or may not be effective in all situations. The implementation of any one suggestion is at your discretion and judgment. You are encouraged to research preparation and prevention tips further.
- Be informed.
- Listen for weather updates and become familiar with your community's disaster plan(s).
- Develop and practice your own safety plan(s), including the identification of safe areas (whether on-residence or off-residence).
- Each adult family member should learn how to shut-off water, gas or electricity to the residence.
- Have an emergency catastrophe kit prepared. This kit should provide a minimum of five (5) days' supply of non-perishable food and water.
- Keep your vehicle(s) filled with gasoline and have emergency cash.
- Check your first aid kit and other emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and battery powered equipment (e.g. radio, cell phone).
- Buy plywood or other material to protect your residence's openings (e.g. windows, doors).
- Keep tree and shrubbery branches trimmed and maintained.
- Make sure you have all important phone numbers with you.
- Store all important papers/records, valuables or irreplaceable items in a safe, safety deposit box, with an off-site family member or at higher elevation within the home. "Important papers/records" include, but are not limited to, driver's licenses, personal identification cards, social security cards, birth/marriage certificates, insurance policies, proof of residency (deeds or utility bills), wills and tax returns.
Inventory of Personal Belongings
- Complete a detailed inventory of personal belongings. This inventory should include such things as brand names, model numbers, age, receipts or invoices.
- Routinely go room-by-room and obtain a photographic or video record.
Tips For Specific Causes of Loss
- If you are in an earthquake prone area, anchor or secure heavy objects such as televisions, stereos, refrigerators, stoves, bookcases, armoires, cabinets or ceiling lights or fans by using brackets, straps or safety cables.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your residence, including, but not limited to, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Design a fire escape plan. Ensure all household members know at least two ways to escape from every room of your residence and know where to meet outside.
- Practice the "stop, drop and roll" technique of extinguishing flames from a person.
- Never overload an electrical socket or use an electrical device with a frayed cord or wire.
- Never leave cooking unattended, and keep flammables or combustibles away from any heat source.
- Keep open flames (e.g. from a candle) in an open area away from other objects. Do not leave an open flame unattended.
- If you are in a flood prone area, purchase or ensure access to a sump pump, which is a pump used to remove accumulated water.
- Move or keep belongings to higher elevations within the home or higher ground.
- Do not drive or walk through floodwaters.
- Be aware that rodents, snakes, insects, other wild animals may seek shelter in the residence.
- Upon first notice of an actual or potential hail storm, and provided you may act safely, close drapes, blinds and/or window shades in an effort to shield household occupants and property from breaking glass.
- Stay indoors until the hail ceases and you are confident it will not immediately reoccur.
- Move your personal property into a covered area.
- Determine safe evacuation routes inland.
- Learn locations of official shelters.
- Board or otherwise cover the windows.
- Remove any outside antennas or satellite dishes or other objects that have the potential of being lifted by high winds.
- Fill your bathtub and other large containers with water. Use water in bathtubs for cleaning and flushing only; DO NOT drink it.
- It is recognized that the safest place to be is in an interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level. Keep away from windows.
- "Ice dams" are lumps of ice that form in eaves, valleys and gutters that prevent melting snow from running off the structure. As the snow melts, water backs up and seeps under the shingles and eventually into the home.
- In order to minimize this formation, keep the eaves, valleys, downspouts and gutters clear of leaves and natural debris.
Lightning Storms and Power Outage
- Install surge protectors to computers or other electrical appliances.
- If possible, disconnect all electrical appliances to avoid damage from a lightning strike or power surge once the power is restored.
- Use ice to keep the temperature of your refrigerator at an appropriate level, and refrain from unnecessarily accessing the refrigerator so as to keep the cold air trapped.
- Develop a tornado safety plan by determining the best place in your home or local storm shelter for your family to gather if a tornado warning issued.
- It is recognized that the safest place to be is underground, or as low to the ground as possible. Keep away from windows. If you do not have a basement, consider an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
- Learn about your community's tornado warning system.
- If provided with enough notice to act safely, remove any outside antennas or satellite dishes or other objects that have the potential of being lifted by high winds.
Winter Storms/Low Temperatures
- Minimize freezing pipes by allowing water to trickle from each faucet, detaching all gardening hoses and installing faucet covers to all external faucets.
- Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
- Set the house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you are leaving the home for an extended period of time.
- Wrap pipes nearest the exterior walls and in crawl spaces with heating tape or pipe insulation.