How to Weather the Storm
Here in the Four States, we all know that the arrival of spring brings about more than just warmer weather, flowers, and longer days. These coming months, we’ve got to weather the storm together. Those living in Tornado Alley know that they must be prepared for these possibly tempestuous months. Everyone should follow all safety precautions. As insurers, our clients’ well-being is priority. Making it through the storm is our first concern.
We also want to offer you tips for when just plain old bad weather comes rolling through. Here is a list of things you can do to prepare, rain or shine.
On Your Phone
- Download Quality Weather Apps: Sure, most of us can check the temperature. We all see the chance of rain on a standard weather app. But there are other great resources out there. Look for more specific and vital details when checking the weather. Have a look at The Weather Channel App or NOAA Radar Pro, amongst others, and always be in the know!
- Assemble an Emergency Kit: There are things in your house that you want to grab and protect for sentimental value…but an emergency kit needs to be the first thing you run for if a big storm strikes. Make sure everyone in the family knows what is in the kit, where it is located, and when it is to be used (Hint: only in emergencies!). Every household will have their own version of a kit, but each one should, at the very least, contain: first-aid supplies, a flashlight and batteries, candles and matches, AM/FM weather radio, water and non-perishable food, work gloves and seasonally appropriate footwear (like rain boots), toiletries, special medications, formula (if you have a baby), and tools for turning off utilities.
- Purchase Surge Protector: Investing in Surge Protectors is like buying a special insurance policy for your expensive electronics! If your house is struck directly or indirectly by lightning, and the electricity in your home spikes, your computer, laptops, charging phones, and televisions could all fry in an instant without protection. You also risk structural fires. Shop around at your local hardware store or even order surge protectors online. You’ll be glad you did!
- Know How to Turn Off Power, Water, and Gas: Without this knowledge, you risk electric or gas-induced fires after major storms. Polluted water from broken water pipes could also flood your home if they are damaged. Turning off these resources right away until you can ensure that all is well is the safest way to go. Find your home’s breaker box and shot off the main breaker at the top of the electrical panel. Leave it off until you are sure there is no damage. If there is damage, leave your home and call emergency response specialists immediately. Locate your main water shut-off valve, usually located near the main water line. Turn the handle or knob clockwise until the valve closes completely. Don’t turn the water back on until city officials have confirmed it’s safe.
- Look After Your Sump Pump: The Sump Pump is what flushes excess water around your home away so that flooding in your basement or crawl area doesn’t happen. It also prevents you from worries of bacteria and mold growing in those areas. You can check your pump by turning it off then on again. Also try running water through it to make sure it’s up to task should a storm hit.
In The Yard
- Change Your Landscaping: We love the look of stone gardens, but…when high winds come tearing through your yard, those stones can cause major damage, especially if they’re thrown through windows. Opt for something light and safe like mulch…you might have a mess to clean up in the yard, but it will be much easier than repairing tons of broken glass!
- Clean Out the Gutters: Those gutters are there for a reason! If they are chock-full of leaves and debris, they can’t perform their function correctly which means possible flooding and roof damage for you. Keep them clean year round, but inspect them regularly during storm season!
- Trim Those Trees: One of the first tell-tale signs that a storm has passed through is a yard (or rooftop!) full of tree branches. Take a look at your trees and see if there are weak or dangling branches that need to be trimmed. Taking the time to prune them now could save you even more time and money later on when they’ve been damaged by a storm.
- Inspect Your Roof: Start out by simply walking around your home and inspecting the roof and siding. Damage shouldn’t be that hard to spot from the ground. If you’re not comfortable climbing up and getting a better look, call in the professionals to do an inspection. Repairing the outside of your home now could mean far less damage after bad weather.
- Weather-Proof Your Patio: You might not realize it, but the grill, outdoor seating, umbrellas, and fire pits you’ve worked tirelessly to install could turn into projectile missiles if storm-strong winds come through. Secure these belongings with anchors or bolts directly into your patio, connect furniture with bungee cords, install wind barriers, purchase heavy furniture made of wrought iron or steel, and use earthquake glue to keep glass table tops stuck!
At Your Desk
- List Your Household Inventory: In the event that disaster strikes and you do lose your home or belonging, a list of the things you need to replace is essential. Household Inventory helps you and your insurers know how much coverage you need and what belongings should be accounted for. Go through each room and write down the things that would be most costly to replace. This includes big items, like furniture and electronics, as well as expensive jewelry and heirlooms. But don’t forget that articles of clothing, make-up, shoes, bedding…all of that adds up as well! If you can, list the estimated price and the year they were purchased. The more exhaustive, the better. And don’t forget…keep the list in a safe place!
At Our Office
- Look Into Flood Insurance: Chances are, you have Homeowner or Renters’ Insurance…but these policies don’t involve flood insurance. The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for the state. According to their website, the NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the program, providing more than $4 billion in flood insurance every year in Missouri for both homes and businesses. Contact them for more information.
- Sit down with your Insurance Agent: You knew this one was coming! For any additional questions or worries you may have, it never hurts to sit down with us, your insurers, and go over every worst-case scenario. That way, when the storm comes, we’ll be ready to weather it with you!