Insights, ideas, best practices, and experienced advice from our community

Hurricane Preparation: Do's and Don't's

When it comes to hurricanes, failure to plan equals planning to fail. Here are a few do’s and don’t’s to consider to help you and others prepare for Hurricane Season.


  1. Get flood insurance. If you do not live in a flood zone the average cost is $450 a year for $250,000 worth of coverage. One inch of flood water could cause more than $25,000 in damage.
  2. Make sure you have enough supplies for 7-10 days: Water, Food, Prescription medicine, Clothing, and if you have pets, Food for them too.
  3. Start preparing as early as possible. Pick up an extra gallon of water every time you go to the grocery store until you have 7 gallons per person –– 1 gallon per person per day for seven days, minimum (your family might need more). Consider buying a WaterBob or similar product that will turn your bathtub into a storage tank. Water is Really important.
  4. Buy non-perishable foods that are full of protein, like protein bars and peanut butter. Two tablespoons provide enough energy to get through a meal time during an emergency.
  5. Get 5-gallon buckets with fitted lids from Home Depot, Walmart or similar stores. These are great for storing electronics, batteries, chargers, important documents, medicines and food. Properly closing the lids on these buckets also allows them to float.
  6. Establish a designated shelter area where you’ll keep emergency supplies in your home so you’re not scrambling around to find them. Do not raid your supplies once you have them ready. You can use them and replenish after hurricane season.
  7. Make an evacuation plan. Make sure you and everyone in your family knows where to meet in case anyone gets separated. Talk through the plan often so everyone is on the same page. DO NOT wait until an evacuation order is issued to create a plan. Failure to plan is Planning For Failure. Also, let your out-of-hurricane-zone relatives know what your evacuation plans are, so they know where you plan to be.
  8. Turn on emergency notifications on your mobile devices. Based on your location, new warning systems can send messages with weather updates, alerts and other useful information. These alerts can be more up-to-date than newscasts, so you should trust them for the most accurate information. Take shelter when instructed.
  9. Keep an emergency escape tool in each of your vehicles. This may come in handy for cutting seatbelts or breaking car window glass in an emergency. Doors on submerged vehicles are often very difficult, sometimes near-impossible, to push open from the inside (if so, the escape tool is used to break open the window glass and climb out).
  10. Check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or need extra help before, during and after emergencies.


  1. Don’t let your car’s gas tank get below half-full at any point during the summer. Keep your tank as full as possible.
  2. Don’t think you know more than weather experts: they have bigger radars and more satellites than we do. Instead, listen to trained emergency management officials, meteorologists and other leaders whose job it is to keep you informed and safe.
  3. Some experts advise not to bother taping up your house windows because it doesn’t reduce the risk of them blowing out. This is especially true for people living apartments. Plus, it will only cause problems when removing the tape afterwards.
  4. Don’t drive through flooded streets, even if you’re very familiar with the street. Don’t try to cross flooded bridges. A few inches of water can move a vehicle. Sinkholes may also develop on flooded roads and you won’t be able to see them.

RESOURCES. Here’s some of the available information that you might find useful to help you prepare at home:

  1. Personalized disaster plans are critical and FEMA offers a step-by-step guide.
  2. Communicating with children about disasters can help alleviate stress. This website offers tips, games and age specific information for families.
  3. Planning for pets is also important. offers advice for pet and livestock management.
  4. Emergency kits can make all the difference for riding out a storm. Do you have all the items on this checklist?

This is only a partial list of recommendations, so check with your local and state authorities and agencies for specific information in your neighborhood and region.


Preparing Your Rental Home For Winter Storms

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some ideas to consider to prepare a home for cold winter weather and storms:


  1. Clean out the house's roof gutters (so liquid can drain), and disconnect and drain all outside hoses.
  2. Avoid ice dams where water from melted snow refreezes in the roof gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls: (1) Ventilate the attic; (2) Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising into the attic from inside the house; (3) Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under the roof covering.
  3. Have a professional check the house's roof to see if it will sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall or ice.
  4. Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on the house (or the neighbor’s).
  5. If possible, drain and shut off exterior water valves (insulate any exposed piping).
  6. Remove any items on the ground outside of the house, in the driveway, or in the garden that could cause injury if covered by snow and mistakenly stepped on.


  1. Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors, vents and windows.
  2. If the house has double-paned windows, install them sooner than later.
  3. Wrap water pipes in the house's basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.  Wrap a heat-capable, fire-resistant insulated blanket around the hot water heater (make sure to avoid any pilot flames when you do this).
  4. If the house has a fireplace, when it is not being used, keep the flue closed (and, make sure any prior fire is completely extinguished).
  5. Don’t block the home’s heating vents.
  6. During cold spells, keep cabinet doors ajar to allow warm air from the house to circulate around kitchen, bathroom, and other pipes.
  7. Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces (moving water tends not to freeze).
  8. If the house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.

This is not a complete, and only a partial, list. Consult your local home experts for their recommendations about your particular building.


The Most Expensive Home Insurance Perils Across The USA

Depending on where you live in the United States, your home may be at risk to a number of natural disasters that could damage or destroy it. Beyond that, a lifetime of memories and irreplaceable items inside your home may be even harder to lose than the house itself. Insurance affords some protection against these threats, and the rate you pay will be a function of where you live.

Northeast – Severe Winter Storms
In addition to knocking out power and paralyzing homes and businesses, these storms often cause significant water damage in two ways. First, pipes may burst due to cold temperatures. Second, the snowmelt in the spring may overflow rivers and reservoirs.

South (including Atlantic and Gulf Coasts) – Hurricanes
The season runs for six months starting on June 1, and may feature many tropical storms that never reach hurricane strength. High wind damage and flooding from heavy rains are the major risks. (Mortgage payments aren’t the only expense. Find what else you might be on the hook for, in: 4 Overlooked Homeownership Costs.)

Midwest (including Great Plains) – Tornadoes
In addition to the risk of wind damage and flooding, tornadoes often cause fires when they rupture and destroy gas and power lines. Flooding is also caused in these areas when heavy rainfall and snowmelt overwhelm a land mass that is normally relatively dry. Swollen rivers and broken levees in low-lying areas are a continuous threat.

West Coast – Earthquakes and Wildfires
This area has the most active earthquake faults, and a significant quake has a ripple effect that may result in flooding, fires, collapsing structures and power loss. The region is also prone to wildfires, due to the prevalence of dry brush and desert-like conditions. Wildfires are often accompanied and fueled by high winds that further compound the damage.

Get to know your important local and regional agencies and public safety authorities that can provide you more information about your area, its risks, and its safety measures.


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