Weather forecasters say that the 2020 hurricane season is shaping up to be a doozy, with bigger storms and more storms threatening to wreak havoc. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that there could be as many as 25 named storms, which would be the second-most on record. While the usual mid-September peak of hurricane season is still several weeks away, the 2020 season is moving at the fastest pace since record keeping started in 1851, even faster than the devastating 2005 season that brought hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Forecasters predict that the normal list of storm names are going to run out, meaning storms will eventually have to be named after letters in the Greek alphabet.
While up to this point, the storms of 2020 have been weaker than the storms of 2005, this is a good time for homeowners to take stock of their hurricane preparedness.
American homeowners are spending record numbers on disaster-related improvements. According to Dan DiClerico, Smart Home Strategist and Home Expert at HomeAdvisor, 2020 spending totals $30 billion, twice what it was 20 years ago.
He suggests that all homeowners who might be in the path of a hurricane take the following steps to prepare their families, pets and homes.
Study Your Insurance Coverage
The standard home insurance policy rarely covers flooding. If you are in a vulnerable area, get flood insurance.
“Check each year for new coverage changes,” DiClerico says. “Flood areas have grown, so even if you were not affected in the past, you may be now.”
He points out that the average annual homeowner cost for flood insurance is $700 per year, while the average cost of flood damage adds up to $20,000.
Get Backup Power
A power outage brings more than inconvenience: it can start chain reactions leading to destruction and personal injury. Candles can start fires; flooding can result from unpowered sump pumps.
“A backup generator that keeps the lights on and can more than pay for itself,” DiClerico says. “Small portable ones start at about $400. Generators programmed to come on automatically if your home loses electricity cost between $1,000 and $8,000.”
Check Your Property
Make sure your gutters are not clogged, and be confident of the strength of your roof. Hurricane-force winds can rip a flimsy roof off, so you may want to consider strengthening yours.
Keep Your Windows Closed
Tape on the glazing may prevent glass shards from flying: Make sure your windows do not become an additional storm danger.
Store Lawn Furniture
This may seem self-evident, but many homeowners overlook the fact that hurricane-force winds can turn a lightweight plastic footstool into a missile.
Devise A Family Plan
Before any storms come near, designate a safe place where your family can meet in the event that you get separated during the storm. You may chose the local library, school, community center or municipal building. Just make sure it is within reach, open to shelter-seeking residents, and known by every family member.
Plan For Your Pets
The Humane Society has recommendations for how to keep your pets safe during natural disasters. Check them out here.
If You Live In Low-Lying Areas, Make An Evacuation Plan
Prepare a “go bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or via public transportation, as well as supplies for traveling longer distances if you have a car. Get detailed instructions for evacuation best practices.