Florida is a wonderful state to live in and to visit, but residents are well aware of the many hurricanes that pass through Florida, and visitors should be as well. Our hurricane season runs roughly from late May through September and can sometimes cause serious damage to property. For this reason, property owners need to take precautions to protect themselves, their homes, and their businesses. Here are three suggestions from a lawyer.
Have a good insurance policy with necessary riders
Standard homeowners insurance covers much of the damage caused by storms, but you will have to review it very carefully. Most do not cover flooding, and they often have wind damage exclusions. If this is true for your policy, purchase flood and wind coverage. Review your hurricane deductible and choose a policy that has a deductible you can afford.
Protect your property
Florida property owners should take precautions in order to protect their property and limit the risk of injuries for anyone on the premises at the time of a storm. Houses and other buildings can be built with materials made specifically to resist hurricane-force winds. If your home is already built, consider installing storm shutters, or even better, hurricane-impact windows and doors. Interlocking metal roofing and metal garage doors hold up well to the wind. And be sure to keep your landscaping safe and well-manicured by cleaning out gutters, pruning trees, and keeping outdoor furniture and fencing secure.
Create an emergency supply of food, water, and medical supplies, as well as flashlights, batteries, a transistor radio, portable generator, candles and matches, and other helpful supplies in case of emergency. Have blankets and insulating blankets on hand as well.
Determine how you will communicate with friends and family if you lose power. Texting is more reliable than calling on a cell phone during or after storms. Social media is also an option for communicating. You may want to determine a place that you will meet if those forms of communication do not work.
Create a plan in advance that includes what you and your family or employees should do when a storm is imminent. Make a checklist and post it in a public place. Review this list with your family or employees frequently so they are ready to use it when they need it. If you rent your home to visitors, make sure that they, too, are aware of your emergency supplies and the list of things to do if a storm arrives while they are visiting.
Tasks on your checklist should include:
- Stay tuned to weather and news reports so you know how to respond as the storm approaches
- Charge your cell phone and fill the gas tanks in your cars
- Bring in patio furniture and any other loose items outside and secure gates, doors, grills, etc.
- Close storm shutters or board up windows that are not hurricane-resistant
- Check wall hangings, taking them off the walls if they seem insecure
- Move cars to higher ground or put them in the garage up against the garage doors
- Unplug appliances
- Move to a safe, interior room in the home
This list is not exhaustive, so consider your particular circumstances and determine any other steps you should take. As a personal injury lawyer, I speak to people every day who have been hurt in accidents in Florida. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if the appropriate people had taken reasonable precautions. Protect your home, your family, and your business from damage or injury due to hurricanes by being prepared.