I hope that, like me, you’re enjoying the good ol’ Caribbean weather we’re lucky to have here year long and that you have been able to find a way to cope with the heat this summer! Nonetheless, we’re currently in hurricane season now through November, and we’re likely to get a storm alert when we least expect it, so here are a few tips to be safe rather than sorry!
The hurricane/cyclonic season, more specifically the Atlantic Hurricane Season 2016, has been cataloged by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center as “very active”. It started on June 1st and will extend until November 30th. A total of 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes are forecast during the coming season, which is said to be the most active since 2012. By now, there’s only been one hurricane: Alex; and 2 tropical storms: Bonnie and Colin. Luckily, neither one of them represented much harm to the country. In order to be prepared, we’ve listed some tips for you to prep yourself and your villas.
Create an Emergency Kit / Plan
In case of a storm, you won’t have the chance to run out and shop for the supplies you’re missing. Your kit should always include the following items at the minimum.
- A first aid kit — Regardless of bad weather, first aid kits are a necessity for home ownership.
- Water for 3 days — It’s recommended to have one gallon per person.
- Nonperishable foods — Make sure not to forget your pet!
- A portable radio with extra batteries — In case there’s a blackout during a storm, a radio at hand can keep you well informed about what’s happening outside while you’re safe inside.
- One or more flashlights with extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Can opener — In addition to other tools such as tweezers or pliers.
- Cash in small bills — ATMs don’t work without power, so it’s better to always have change at hand.
- Know where family members will meet if instructed to evacuate, as well as several options to get out of the city in case routes are blocked. Establish a meeting point ahead of time. Staying with friends or family who live outside of the local area is a good option, but you should also research hotels and shelters.
Know well the area where you live
- If you live in a flood-prone area, invest in insurance. Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover weather-related flooding, and may need to be purchased separately.
- Make a complete list of all your possessions, including items that are outside of the house. This can help your insurance agent select the right plan for you to recover any damaged items after a hurricane.
- If your vehicle is damaged in a hurricane, it may be covered by your auto insurance policy if you carry comprehensive coverage, but it’s best to make sure.
- Talk to your agent about the specifics to prepare for a hurricane for your policy.
Modify the interior and exterior of your home for a hurricane
- First, make sure your hurricane shutters are in good condition. If not, consider installing new ones. Another option is to replace your windows with resistant hurricane glass.
- Your traditional roof may benefit from being upgraded to a hipped one (the one with the sloping sides) in tough storms.
- Check the gutters and make sure they aren’t cluttered with leaves and other debris prior to oncoming bad weather. Clean gutters can prevent heavy damage during long periods of rain.
- Remove dead or damaged trees, especially those near the house. Collect all branches and other debris near the property, as they can become dangerous objects during strong winds. Do the same with outdoor furniture and decor items when you first hear of a hurricane warning.
- Move valuable documents and objects to the upper floors of the house. You may want to store them in waterproof containers or a safe. This includes copies of insurance policies, birth certificates, social security cards, important financial documents, passports and other identification.
- Determine the best place in your home to be during a hurricane. You may need to modify an area of your house for appropriate precaution. It’s advisable to be in an area with no windows, in order to avoid flooding.
Follow a few simple procedures to help speed up claims if your home or vehicle is impacted by a hurricane:
When filing a claim
- Contact your insurance provider immediately to report your loss.
- Be prepared to provide your policy number.
- Do not remove debris or damaged property that may be related to your claim.
Steps after filing a claim
- Prepare a detailed inventory of destroyed or damaged property.
- Offer photos or videos of your home and possessions to your adjuster, if these are available.
- Keep copies of communications between you and your adjuster.
- Keep records and receipts for additional living expenses that were incurred if you were forced to leave your home, and provide copies to your adjuster.
Whatever tomorrow brings, there are several measures you should consider taking to survive and recover from a hurricane – especially if you live in a coastal area. Staying up to date on safety tips and proper instruction in preparation can help you stay afloat of damage in the long run. Recently, quite a few Casa de Campo residents learned the value of keeping debris away from pipes that drain water. No one wants a flooded villa! As storms can sneak up on us, let’s remember to stay cautious, especially during hurricane season.