Can it really be 30 years since Massachusetts has been directly hit by a hurricane???
New England is the land of extreme weather, Nor’Easters, blizzards, snow and sleet, torrential rains, ice storms, wind and tide surges are all par for the course for locals.
Despite these frequent weather phenomenon, meteorologists define hurricanes or tropical cyclone based on specific criteria of a storm that does not always apply to even strong storm systems, but it appears that this Sunday/Monday the South Shore all the boxes will be checked and tropical storm/hurricane Henri will make landfall here.
While a major storm usually sparks is a run on bread, water and other essentials what can home owners do to prepare? Custom Care is pleased to offer some pointers to help our neighbors ride out the storm safely.
Take Photos or video or both!
Too often we only think to photograph our property AFTER the damage occurs and an insurance claim is needed for repairs. But without a basis of comparison sometimes your claim can be delayed without current photographs of the exterior of your home and personal property.
Consider photographing interior doors, windows, ceilings and lower levels that may be at risk for flooding. Water damage and leaks will need to be addressed by licensed contractors as soon as possible to mitigate further damage or mold issues, so anything that can be done to expedite the processing of your claim can help.
Also photograph your personal property. Wind and driving rain can extensively damage more than just the structure. Keep any and all records of costs of items as well as this documentation of your home safe (i.e. backed up on the internet so if computers or phones are damaged the information is still salvageable). We hope you never need it, but an ounce of prevention… Make sure you have access to your policy information on hand.
If possible bring valuables and IDs to safe storage for the duration of the storm. Bring all other valuables to interior upper level rooms.
Sign up for an emergency alert system.
Modern technology has saved many lives with emergency alerts in hurricane alley, but in the North East we also have a need for these notifications. Learn whether you live in a hurricane evacuation zone and sign up for the alert system that best suits your needs. You can also register with your utility company to receive alerts and to report outages.
Prepare for power outages.
Although sometimes the reason for the power outage is a simple one, as many of us have experienced the sheer volume of affected households can overwhelm utility companies abilities to restore power quickly. A simple windstorm can knock out power for several days for certain areas. Although the trajectory of Henri is still not clear, it is possible that millions of people in New England may be impacted. A generator is always a great option, but most households are not equipped with this and will need to consider more immediate options.
Consider making extra ice in advance and filling a cooler or two to preserve refrigerated food and or medications. Unopened refrigerators will keep food cold for just 4 hours. A full unopened freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours.
• all flashlights smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to be sure their batteries are ready to go.
• your fire extinguisher to ensure it is in good working condition.
• If your home has a sump pump check to be sure it is in good working order.
• Locate and stock a first aid kit.
• Check gutters and drains to ensure the water has a place to go.
• Make sure you have gloves, safety glasses and a good rain coat handy in case damage requires immediate attention.
• All devices and power banks are fully charged.
• If your home depends on electricity to pump water from a well, fill bathtubs and other containers with water in advance.
• Consider having a plan B for outdoor cooking, including charcoal grill, propane stove or check the gas levels on your grill.
• If you have an electric garage door, ensure you understand how to operate it manually.
• Have each family member prepare a go bag with changes of clothing, medications, COVID masks, sanitizers, and any other essentials in case there is structural damage to the home which indicates the need for relocating.
It may seem like overkill but it is preferable to feel a bit silly in advance instead of panicked trying to pull together these things in the dark in an emergency situation.
• Plan on being without internet, air conditioning, microwaves and other daily essentials. Download a movie or two for the kids on an ipad, find games and other activities for any potential delays in restoration of services.
• Check on your neighbors, including the elderly before during (by phone) and after the storm. Often hurricanes come with extreme humidity and heat which, without climate control, can be life threatening to vulnerable populations.
• If you or your neighbors are unable to adequately prepare homes for the storm, connect with family and friends for help in the interest of keeping everyone safe. It is important to consider that wind and driving rain does not respect property lines, and your neighbor’s patio set could very well end up in your living room if not adequately addressed!
• Batten down the hatches! Secure any and all patio sets, hammocks, canopies, potted plants, kayaks, surf boards, children’s toys etc.
• In high risk areas consider boarding up windows and doors, shuttering, sandbagging.
• Check out your trees and remove any dead wood on trees and trim up any branches that threaten your home. These may not be necessarily close to your home, strong winds can turn a branch into a javelin, try to remove as many potential hazards as possible.
• Fill your car’s gas tank in advance. Depending on the severity of the outages gas station pumps may not be operable and many people will be using their cars as makeshift generators to charge devices. If you do this ensure you are not running your vehicle in an enclosed space.
• Don’t forget your pets! Storms can be quite frightening for animals, ensure all animals are inside well before the storm begins, and be doubly careful entering and exiting the home during the storm as a frightened animal might escape and be lost. Be sure to include the pet in your emergency planning, bring the carrier out, and create a go bag for your pet with food, leashes etc.
Have a plan!
• If you do need to leave your home, it’s likely many other community members will be in a similar situation and hotels are often full. Touch base with family members or friends who are outside of the anticipated storm trajectory to ensure a short term plan for where to go.
• If you cannot leave your home. A downed tree blocking your road could prevent leaving. Have tarps and rope on hand in case you need to prevent water incursion.
• Check your town’s website for information about warming stations, these can be temporary shelters but also generator supplied charging stations for devices.
During the storm.
• Stay in interior rooms as much as possible to avoid any injury from glass should a window break.
• Remember hurricanes have an “eye” during which winds subside and it can seem as though the storm has passed. Do not go outside during this time, as the storm can rapidly increase in intensity.
• If your home floods, retreat to the highest floor and contact emergency services, do not retreat to your attic without an axe.
• Do not attempt to walk swim or drive through flood waters. Flood waters can rise quickly and it takes just 6 inches of moving water to knock down an adult.
After the storm.
• Do not attempt to cross any flooded areas, not only is it unsafe due to floating debris rising waters can contain dangerous pathogens. Downed powerlines can also electrically charge water.
• Do not approach any downed powerlines, report these to your utility company.
• Report any other unsafe conditions to local authorities.
• If safe to do so check on neighbors.
• Continue to monitor local and state emergency services for status reports.
• Wear protective clothing and do not attempt to address damages without another adult.
• Do not allow children or pets out of the home until you have inspected your surroundings for any dangerous conditions.
• Throw away any spoiled food.
• Try to limit phone calls as lines are often overburdened with emergency calls. Try to use social media or texting when possible.
• Check in with friends and family who may be concerned for your safety.
• Document damages to your home and property for insurance purposes.
We wish all our neighbors a safe weekend, should you need help with damages your friends at Custom Care Inc. are here for you.