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Don’t wait! Prepare for storms now

Don’t wait! Prepare for storms now

While hurricane season is still weeks away, there are tasks that can be done now to prepare your home or business.

“It’s always helpful to take steps in the spring, ahead of storms that could come our way later in the year,” said Sam Rooks, vice president of underwriting & policy services for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “Don’t wait until the storm watch or warning has been issued; there are preparations that need to be done now.”

Hurricane season

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season—the annual formation of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere—will run from June 1 to Nov. 30. A tropical cyclone is a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed, low-level circulation. Tropical cyclones rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and are classified as follows:

  • Tropical depression: tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.
  • Tropical storm: tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.
  • Hurricane: tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher (In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons, and similar storms in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean are called cyclones).
  • Major hurricane: tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The 2018 hurricane season produced 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, of which two were a category 3, 4 or 5.

Prepare now for Hurricane Season

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety shares hurricane preparation steps that can be taken now for both homes and businesses.

Home prep

Shutters: Install the hardware needed to put up shutters or pre-cut plywood to protect windows and doors now. This will allow for easier installation if your area is threatened by a storm.

Trees: Now is a good time to cut weak branches, along with branches that are positioned over structures and could cause property damage if they break in high winds.

Seals: Check the caulk around windows and doors, ensuring that it is not cracked, broken or missing. Fill any holes or gaps around pipes or wires that enter the building.

Roof: Inspect the roof and overhang to look for signs of wear or damage. Have the roof inspected to make sure the roof sheathing is well-connected.

Attached structures: Inspect porches, carports, entryway canopies and storage sheds to ensure they are firmly attached and in sound structural condition.

Sump pumps and drains: Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If the sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replaced.

Generators: Prepare and test your generator well before a storm strikes.

Business prep

  • Have your building inspected, and complete any maintenance needed to ensure the building can withstand severe weather.
  • Designate an employee to monitor weather reports and alert your team to potential severe weather.
  • Review and update your business continuity plan, along with employee contact information.
  • Remind employees of key elements of the plan, including post-event communication procedures and work/payroll procedures. Review emergency shutdown and start-up procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel, including alternates.
  • Test backup power options, such as a generator, and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries.
  • Inspect and replenish your inventory of emergency supplies.
  • Test all life safety equipment.
  • Conduct training exercises for both business continuity and emergency preparedness/response plans.

During a hurricane, the failure of any opening can allow wind and water to enter a building and cause extensive damage. That’s why all windows and glass in doors should be protected well in advance.

The only effective window protection is one that is used, so remember to activate shutters, panels and plywood, and completely close all windows and doors.