Homeowner Tip of the Month: Safety Precautions Following a Hurricane
Extreme caution should be exercised following a catastrophic hurricane as dangerous situations may still be present. If your house is damaged, it is crucial to move carefully and not return until it has been inspected by officials. Always supervise children and refrain from drinking tap water until officials have declared it safe.
If possible, it is advisable to avoid driving due to debris and road blockages. Additionally, power outages may lead to gasoline shortages and long lines at filling stations. At intersections with traffic lights out, treat it as a four-way stop and proceed with extreme caution. Phone lines and cell towers may also be damaged or overloaded, so making calls during off-peak times is recommended.
Many areas may experience widespread power outages, and power companies will not begin restoration efforts until wind speeds drop below 35 miles per hour to ensure the safety of repair crews. Power outages can last anywhere from several hours to weeks.
During this time, the use of a portable generator can help restore a semblance of normalcy, but it must be operated safely. Always run generators outside the house and never inside or in a garage. Prior to refueling, ensure the generator is turned off and has cooled down to prevent gasoline spills on hot engine parts, which can lead to injuries or fatalities. Place generators well away from open windows, including neighboring homes, to prevent deadly exhaust from entering the residence.
It is vital not to connect a generator directly to home wiring as it can pose severe risks to neighbors or utility crews. Instead, plug appliances directly into the generator's outlet using heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for grounding the generator and be considerate of noise ordinances and neighbors.
Before you begin cleaning, take pictures or video of the damage that occurred both inside and outside your home.
Make temporary repairs to your property to prevent further losses from the elements and to secure your property. This would include boarding up windows, placing plastic tarps over holes in the roof and drying out wet carpets and furniture. Keep receipts for materials used and keep a record of the repairs you make for the adjuster.
You can pull wet items out of your house so they do not cause mold, but do not throw anything away until an adjuster has seen it.
Do not begin permanent repairs until after you have been instructed to do so by your insurance adjuster.
File for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). Many homeowners policies include provisions to cover the extra expenses you encounter while displaced from your home. ALE is intended to cover the difference between what you would normally spend on things like food and other essentials while you are at home when you are displaced. It is designed to cover additional expenses, not ordinary bills.
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