GOOD Home is a biweekly column published in partnership with PuroClean of Wilton and Ridgefield about home safety, maintenance, weather preparedness, and damage prevention, with the goal to save homeowners from the hassle and headaches of severe property damage. Located in south Wilton (24 Danbury Rd., Suite 204), PuroClean provides 24/7 water damage remediation, fire and smoke restoration, and mold and biohazard removal services to the Fairfield County community and across southwest CT and Northeastern Westchester County.
Officially, the Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. In the Eastern Caribbean and along the US East Coast, however, the peak season runs mainly from mid-August through mid-September. You may recall the damage created from recent storms like Ida and Superstorm Sandy that pummeled Ridgefield, Stamford, Wilton, and numerous towns throughout Westchester County.
A hurricane or tropical storm is a powerful and unpredictable storm that can cause immense damage along its path. To stay safe and protect your property during a hurricane, being ready before one hits is critical. Check out how to prepare and what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.
Hurricane Safety Tips — Before
Check out these preparation tips on how to keep yourself and your family safe during hurricanes:
- Learn your area’s flooding risk and community hurricane evacuation routes. Know the geographical location you live in.
- Create a family evacuation plan. Determine a meeting place for your family and routes to get there. Plan how to get in touch with your family if separated. Plan where you’ll go if you must evacuate, such as a shelter.
- If you don’t have flood insurance, get a policy now. Regular homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.
- Find out whether your property is flood-prone due to its elevation level.
- If there are levees and dams in your area, find out if they pose a hazard to you when the storm hits.
- Store copies of important documents, such as proof of ownership of any property, in your disaster kit.
- Back up the data on your electronic devices to ensure it’s secure if your computer or other devices are damaged during the hurricane.
Create an Emergency Kit
FEMA recommends that you gather supplies, including:
- Water for drinking and sanitation to last at least three days;
- Non-perishable food for at least three days
- Hand crank or battery-powered radio (tuned in to NOAA Weather Radio), as well as spare batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to call for help
- Dust mask, plastic sheeting, and duct tape for shelter making
- Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation
- Pliers or wrench to turn off utilities
- Can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone with an extra charger
Secure Your Property
Here’s how to ensure your home or business stays safe during a tropical storm:
- Secure your roof. Make your roofing and frames stronger by installing reinforcements, such as straps or clips. Also, secure loose shingles with heavy-duty adhesive and seal around your home’s chimney or vent pipes to keep water out.
- Maintain gutters and downspouts. Clean your gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent clogs. These could cause water damage to your home when the rain starts to pour. Also, ensure your gutters are firm and not sagging.
- Secure your windows. High winds can shatter your windows, leaving your home vulnerable. The best way to secure your windows is to install permanent hurricane shutters made of steel, aluminum, and other materials. Installing plywood is also a good defense for your windows. Avoid taping, however, as it doesn’t prevent the glass from breaking.
- Caulk your home. Caulking is a fast way to waterproof your house and reinforce vulnerable areas. Caulk around your windows and doors, the edges of your house, and around chimneys and other roof penetrations.
- Insulate the outside first floor walls with rigid foam or install plastic sheeting. It won’t stop all the water from getting in, but the insulation will keep out most of the silt.
- Reinforce your garage. To make it withstand powerful winds, secure your garage door with a brace kit rated for storm and hurricane winds. Other ways to strengthen your garage door are installing a metal post system or covering the door with metal panels, fabric screen, or 5/8-inch plywood.
- Trim trees and shrubs. Loose branches in your yard (and neighborhood) could be blown by powerful winds during a hurricane, damaging your house. Cut any dead or loose branches to safeguard your property.
- Secure loose objects. Your yard may also host things that could become projectiles in high winds. Tie down and secure anything that could be swept up by winds, such as potted plants, lawn furniture, and dog houses. When a storm is imminent, bring light objects inside.
- Protect appliances from power outages. While you should unplug electrical devices during a powerful storm, it’s also ideal to purchase a surge protector. It prevents damage to your devices in case the power goes out.
- Move valuables to a higher floor. As electronics and appliances are susceptible to water damage, move them to an upper level. If you can’t, raise them off the floor on concrete blocks.
When a storm is hours from arriving:
- Pile up sandbags at least two feet high as an efficient barricade against floodwaters. If you don’t have sandbags, place heavy-duty garbage bags, filled one-third of the way with water, around your house doors.
- Ensure your car is in good working condition and fill up the gas tank. If you’re going to evacuate, stock your vehicle with emergency supplies.
- Charge your cell phone to have a full battery if the power goes out.
- Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting so that food lasts longer during a power outage.
- Be alert for the latest national weather service updates and emergency instructions.
Hurricane Safety Tips — During
Here are essential tips to protect yourself and your family members during a hurricane:
- If authorities advise or order you to evacuate your area, take your emergency disaster kit and leave immediately. Strictly follow posted evacuation routes and do not try to take shortcuts.
- If you are outside and the storm approaches, get indoors as soon as possible to avoid being hit by flying debris.
- If your home is on low-lying ground, move to higher ground. If you’re in a mobile home, go to the nearest safe shelter.
- While indoors, stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Find a safer spot to stay in, such as an interior room or a bathroom on the lower level.
- During the storm, winds and rain may damage electrical wiring; don’t use electrical appliances to avoid fire hazards and electrical shocks.
- If your home is at risk of flooding, turn off electricity at the main circuit breaker. Don’t turn on electricity until local officials have advised you to do so.
- Never use gasoline-powered or charcoal-burning devices inside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep those devices outside.
- If trapped in a building that’s flooding, go to the highest level. Don’t climb into a closed attic, as rising floodwater may trap you.
- Lightning is also a safety risk. Stay safe from lightning in your home during a storm by NOT using the shower, phone, or electrical equipment.
- Be aware that the eye of the storm may pass over your area, during which the storm will calm. The storm can start again without warning, however.
- Stay indoors until the local officials have announced that the storm is over. Listen to the radio or turn on the TV (if safe, do so) to get the latest updates.
Hurricane Safety Tips — After
Here’s how to stay safe after a tropical storm has passed:
- Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
- Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through the water. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Floodwater may also contain contaminants, dangerous debris, or downed power lines.
- Enter a damaged building only after a professional has inspected the electrical system, gas lines, and plumbing for damage.
- Take photos of any property damage and contact your insurance company for assistance. Wear protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and masks when inspecting your home.
- Don’t touch wet electrical equipment, more so if you’re standing in water.
- Throw out food that has been exposed to floodwaters or has not been maintained at a proper temperature. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Don’t drink tap water if you’re not sure it’s safe.
Finally, make sure to download a copy of this handy Emergency Preparedness Document and use it to gather and record important numbers, such as your property or medical insurance provider, A/C repair service, etc.
For Flood Cleanup Services, Contact the PuroClean Drying Professionals
Water damage to your property can still occur, even if you have followed proper tips on preparing for hurricanes. When disaster strikes, everything that got wet on your property must be dried, cleaned, and disinfected immediately.
For water removal services and mold cleaning services, contact PuroClean immediately. Our team will arrive at your location promptly to prevent further water damage and mold growth.
PuroClean’s Emergency Management Plan
Emergency Management Plans(EMPs) are also offered through PuroClean to help commercial business owners prepare for hurricane / tropical storm season. PuroClean’s EMP can help business owners effectively manage unexpected events and minimize the impact on businesses, properties, and customers.
Additionally, PuroClean offers a national disaster response team. They can support communities affected by significant damage or impacted during hurricane season.
If you are affected by a disaster, contact the team at PuroClean of Wilton | Ridgefield. Look us up on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, call us at 475.277.2400 or email us. Our team will work hard so your home can be returned to its pre-loss condition as soon as possible!