How to prepare for hurricane season
I own my own home. What is your advice about hurricanes? They seem to be out there left, right and centre. How can I minimise damage, what do I do before, during and after the storm in order to make sure my property is safe?
Well, you are right, peak storm season is here and, looking at the weather, it’s not hard to see why. Warmer waters and cooler breezes make for some interesting weather patterns — we narrowly missed Gert this month. Whether we get hit full-on, by a tropical storm or hurricane, or just get the remnants dragging rough seas and a lot of rain with them, it is always wise to be prepared.
Be sure that your home is insured for storms. In Bermuda, typically, property insurance covers storms. However, there is the option not to include it in your policy. Storms are one of the most common reasons for property damage, so be sure to check your policy has storm insurance included, and that it is paid up to date. There are many sources of advice for storm preparation, and safety during the worst moments, but here’s a few more great tips:
• Be sure that you have an adequate supply of drinking water available, before the storm.
• Stay tuned to information by listening in on the radio. Make sure you have working batteries!
• Help injured or trapped persons, and provide first aid wherever it is appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help if you have a landline; mobile phone service is likely to be down. If you know your neighbours well, find out which ones still have landlines.
• Avoid loose or dangling power lines and, if they have not already been reported, inform the power company, police or fire department.
• Open windows and doors after the storm to ventilate and dry your home. It is getting better, but as most of our power lines are above ground it can take several days for electricity to be restored in all areas.
• If power is lost, unplug major appliances to reduce a surge when electricity is restored. Power surge can damage electronic devices and major appliances beyond repair.
• Check refrigerated foods for spoilage. This is a no-brainer if the power has been out for days. Try not to panic buy before the storm. Use up items that you already have in your refrigerator and cupboards.
• Take pictures of any damage to your house or contents (if appropriate) for insurance claims. Make sure your camera and phone is charged.
• In order not to block landlines, use the telephone only for emergency calls.
• Inspect your roof, but please wait until it is dry (or it will be slippery) and have a responsible person assisting you with the ladder, etc. You are looking for cracks that may have appeared due to the vibration caused by high winds, and broken or damaged roof slate. Make a note, so you know where to look when it comes time to do repairs. Be aware that these cracks can occur beneath the paintwork and can take up to three months to be noticeable.
• Turn your gas at the outside main valve off before the storm. When you turn it back on, if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise it means you have a leak. Open a window and quickly turn off the gas at the main valve. If you can, call the gas company from a neighbour’s home (not yours).
• If you have a gas stove it should still work after the storm however, the pilot light will not, so have a BBQ lighter at the ready. Make sure you have matches, candles, lighters and torches in advance.
• Many people own gasoline-powered generators to help them during long outages. Please run your generator outside. Generators give off poisonous fumes. As they can be very noisy, please be thoughtful about neighbours and try to only run it during the day. Make sure your generator is firmly fixed in place; they have been known to develop “legs”!
• Normally people are not evacuated in Bermuda, as it would not be practical and we are generally all “storm savvy”. If you must leave your house immediately after the storm, remember the roads are likely to be full of fallen trees or debris. Do not go anywhere unless you absolutely have to. If you can, walk. Even better, if you are physically fit and able go out, offer to assist people clearing the roads, or take refreshments to anyone who is working.
• For my avid gardeners with treasured plants: Take a few cuttings for rooting if you have a favourite or unusual species in case they are damaged beyond repair. Plants will look rather storm swept and “burnt” due to the salt content in the rain and wind. As soon as possible, hose them off with fresh water and cut off any injured stems or branches. Bermuda plants are hardy; chances are they will soon look as good as new.
The responsibility of a large property can be overwhelming during a storm, particularly if you are getting up in age or on your own. If this is the case, perhaps it is time to think about buying somewhere smaller that’s more manageable. Condos are ideal, as you can just shut the shutters and open back up when the storm is over with relatively little to no clean up. Our sales market is still very active. Give me a call to discuss your options.
Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate
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