A colleague once shared with me that she felt ill-prepared for an approaching hurricane, and sought some advice. Offering such advice can be problematic, as I never know quite where to start. For example, I sure don’t want to be that guy who reminds others to have the obvious items —- bottled water, batteries, flashlights, etc. Everyone knows this, right?! Well, as it turned out my friend was not even sure she had any flashlights in her house. I told her she might want to get one or two, and reminded her most require batteries.
This column provides less obvious but important risk management lessons I have learned from hardened hurricane survivors in FL who have shared the valuable lessons they learned having endured numerous hurricanes. For example:
- Wind will enter a home through the most vulnerable area, and that area is often the large exterior door of an attached garage. Once winds enter a garage, they cause an “uplift” on the ceiling, creating pressure that removes the roof of the garage that often enable winds to enter the interior of the home.
- Since it is hard to know whether the door is inherently strong enough to resist hurricane force winds, steps should be taken to fortify it.
- Consider parking the cars inside the garage so that the rear bumper abuts the garage door. Many in FL fortify their garage door with ply wood, 2 x 4 reinforcements, etc. to prevent the door from collapsing and wind from entering.
- If you do not already own one, it may be a bit late to buy a generator locally. Meanwhile, it may not be too late: all who use Amazon should be aware that the best way to assure fastest delivery is to select Amazon as the seller, and not one of the other resellers who market on their site. Many generators can be purchased from Amazon with a one day delivery option.
- For those with generators, it’s a good idea to test it to ensure it is operational, and to make sure there is ample fuel.
- A comedian once observed that the danger in hurricanes is not THAT the wind is blowing, rather the danger arises from WHAT the wind is blowing. Please be sure to bring inside all that is outside that can be hurled through your windows!Do not forget easily overlooked items like gas grills, portable propane tanks, and picnic tables.
- Expect power surges before an outage, and unplug vulnerable electronic equipment.
- For a much more complete list of suggestions, your tax dollars are hard at work providing this information: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409003345844-0e142725ea3984938c8c6748dd1598cb/How_To_Prepare_Guide_Hurricane.pdf
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Equipping your home(s) with wireless video capabilities is now both easy and affordable. With Dropcam, you can have multiple wireless security cameras at a remarkably low-cost. With high-definition live streaming, night vision, two-way talk and mobile apps, it’s now simple to stay connected with the place you call home.
Especially for seasonal homeowners, the added security and peace of mind benefits make this a must have addition.
Check their site for details https://www.dropcam.com/home-security
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If early forecasts from experts stay on track, a monster El Nino is in the works for 2014.
Years when El Nino has been very active often reduce the chances of a highly active hurricane season in the Atlantic. Meanwhile, those proximate to the Pacific Ocean are at a greatly increased risk of violent weather conditions. For those living in drought stricken areas looking forward to extra rain (the entire Western half of the US, for example) the risk of landslide / mudslide increases greatly. Check the link that follows for a report offering interesting insights on El Nino and the potential for a dangerously historic 2014: El Nino could grow into a monster, data show
Readers should be aware: property damage caused by landslide / mudslide is specifically excluded by homeowner AND flood insurance policies. Specialty coverage can be available for those concerned about adding protection for damage caused by landslide / mudslide, though many conditions apply. Let me know if you’d like more information on this specialty coverage.
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Another severe cold spell is expected in our area this week, with temperatures expected to dip into the single digits in some areas, along with heavy snowfall. We receive a lot of good suggestions on preventing home losses from the claims and restoration specialists we work with. The following suggestions were provided to us by Maxons Restorations. Consider forwarding these often overlooked ideas to those you know, especially those with second homes in our are most vulnerable to cold weather related losses,
- Look for cold spots in your property near outside walls, roofs or windows. If there are pipes nearby, seek out ways to insulate them. If the pipes get cold enough, the water inside will freeze. When water freezes, it expands, building up pressure and bursting pipes.
- Think about leaving cabinet or closet doors open during extreme cold, it will help to circulate heat around pipes.
- Leaving faucets running at a slow trickle will allow water to flow through your system, preventing freezing.
- Inspect pipes that run to water spigots outside. If you still have a hose connected to it, disconnect it immediately. The water freezing in that hose will send cold and pressure back into the pipes inside.
- Make sure you know where the water shut-off valves are in case of a pipe break or leak.
- Avoid turning the thermostat down. It’s normally a great way to save energy when you’re not at home, but it’s probably not worth the risk when it’s this cold out. Set the temperature close to 65 degrees at all times and definitely no lower than 55, experts say.
While most of us know to take steps to avoid frozen pipes and water damage during cold temperatures, we often overlook the increased risk of FIRE when the temperatures drop.
- Make sure you’re prepared for an alternative heating arrangement in the event of a service interruption, especially if you have electric heat.
- When using equipment such as space heaters, check to make sure they have been approved for use indoors and are turned on at a safe level and away from furniture, carpet or anything else flammable.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without making the necessary safety precautions.
- Be careful to not overload power points and power boards.
- Regularly clean fireplaces.
To access a helpful 1 page guide from Maxons Restorations on preventing pipe breaks, check this link: http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1104123010409-778/Maxons+Pipe+Break+Tips.pdf
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This advice provided by PURE to their member policyholders:
The polar vortex caused record-breaking low temperatures this week throughout much of the U.S. With warmer temperatures this weekend, pipes that had become frozen and/or cracked will begin to thaw and could burst. Without proper attention, damaged and melted pipes could channel unwanted water into your home.
If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, call a plumber immediately or follow these tips to help thaw the pipe on your own:
- Pipes that are most likely to freeze are those located in exterior walls or where your water enters your home through its foundation.
- Turn the faucet(s) on halfway to begin. As you treat the frozen pipe, the ice will begin to melt and you will notice water flowing more freely from the faucet. Once water is flowing, open the faucet all the way. This steady approach will help to prevent water from gushing.
- Apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe by wrapping it with a heating pad, or using a hair dryer or portable space heater on it. Apply the heat until full water pressure is restored. (Never leave portable heating sources unattended.)
- If you are unable to locate the frozen area of the pipe, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber immediately.
- Check all other faucets in your home to identify others that may have frozen. If one pipe freezes, it’s likely others may have as well.
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As an insurance advisor who strives to help consumers make well informed decisions to intelligently manage their many risks, properly framing such risks is a real challenge. I avoid the tone of scare-monger, while also reminding others that just because a risk has not personally impacted them does not mean it might not in the future. While the axiom “stuff happens” is proven correct daily, bad stuff usually happens to others. Usually.
Buying insurance to indemnify us from a possible future loss is just one strategy to consider in managing the risks we face. Employing other risk management strategies to minimize our vulnerabilities to certain risks is another approach worth considering. Meanwhile, there is one common de-facto “strategy” that consumers should NOT embrace. In alarming numbers, many consumers kid themselves that a wide range of risks simply will not occur, and have no real plan in place for a wide range of unlikely yet still possible disasters. After every natural disaster, we see the plight of the large numbers who have embraced this “can’t happen to me” belief. Choosing to NOT be prepared can be a terrible decision.
For any you know who could benefit from a dose of reality to better understand the risks of living near the coast – specifically Eastern Long Island – I highly recommend this eye opening article by noted journalist T. J. Clemente: http://easthampton.patch.com/groups/tj-clementes-blog/p/will-town-save-montauk-from-the-next-hurricane?a_dgi=aolshare_email
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