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Enduring a storm can be a financially and physically draining event even with proper insurance coverage.  By the time a storm rolls through we are all exhausted and looking to get comfortable. The demands of protecting your property, immediate family, relatives etc. can be overwhelming.  As urgent as these things are, it’s good to take a deep breath and think about a few things.  As a recreational Scuba diver, when prepping for a dive I tell myself “Slow is fast.”  So, step back and think for a minute.

  1. Priorities: 
    • Choose Safety over Comfort: You may be tempted to set that generator up too close to the house. Or you may want to pick up tree limbs before the storm winds stop blowing. But this is a time to take a step back and consider what your highest priority is: a person’s physical safety. While some of these things may give you peace of mind faster or make you more temporarily comfortable, they are not worth risking lives! Before you take action consider, am I making a safe choice?
  2. Evacuation:
    • Depending on where you are, you may need to accept an offer of evacuation, particularly if you have few resources.   If the house floods, it’s an untenable and unhealthy situation.  If you have a place to go, do so.   I know that you are anxious to get moving on the repairs, but a delay of a day or two may make sense.    
  3. Generators:
    • Location: Always check the manufacturers guidelines about where to locate this equipment. It does not need to be under any type of overhang like a garage or patio.  
    • Protect from Carbon Monoxide: Seal off dryer vents, windows and doors where cords come into the house. Carbon monoxide detectors are another option that can be very cost effective, sometimes around only $20. Carbon monoxide detectors should be located by the opening closest to where the generator cord comes in. Every window AC unit should have a detector near it.
    • Re-fueling: Turn the generator off for at least 15 minutes to cool down before refueling.  Get a funnel to help you!   Perhaps in the early evening, when the outside air cools off is a good time.
    • Power Connections: A generator plug is called a “Suicide Plug” with good reason. It’s a male 220 AMP feed with no insulation. You should never “back feed” the generator power through a dryer plug or other similar avenue, as it is extremely dangerous! This is another example of why choosing safety over comfort is a top priority!
  4. Storm Debris:
    • Trees and limbs: Watch for tangled power lines. Suspended limbs get tangled in foliage which wind and/or gravity can cause to fall.
    • Fences and structures: Watch for nails, sharp pieces of wood, etc.  Like trees, the structures they fall on can suddenly collapse when force is applied or removed. As you clean up your property be cautious around these structures.
  5. Fitness:
    • “None of us are as good as we used to be.”  Storm cleanup can entail long hours of back breaking labor.  If you are not fit or used to manual labor, keep this in mind. Green trees are heavy. Don’t over do it!
  6. Prioritize:
    • If you have flood or storm water in the house, save irreplaceable items first, like pictures wedding albums etc. Putting dry rice in a container can help to absorb moisture. 
  7. Insurance Coverage:
    • If you think you may have a claim, get it turned in as soon as you can for best possible results. Ways to turn in a claim:
    • Call your insurer. Insurance companies typically have claims numbers very visible on their website. Once you’re in contact with your insurer, they can look up your policy and coverage in their system.
    • Go digital. Turn in the claim online or check to see if your Insurer has an app! 
    • Call your agent.
    • Not sure who your insurer is? Many people bundle their policies. It may be a good idea to check with companies you have another policy with, such as your auto-insurance provider.
  8. Always check with your Adjuster, Insurer or Agent first on what to do after a loss.  However, some general rules are:
    • Do what you have to do to protect your family first. 
    • Protect the property from further loss. 
    • Separate damaged from undamaged property.  If you have to rip out things because of water damage, save the pile of debris for the adjuster to look at.   
    • Document, document, document! Take pictures of anything you do.
    • Start a list of things that were lost or damaged. It’s easy to forget things in the midst of so much following a storm. As you think of losses and damages, make a note or take a picture.  

In Conclusion: Read your owner’s manuals. Always do what the manufacturers say on any equipment, appliance etc., unless doing so causes harm to a person. Do what your insurer says to do and be diligent Hug your family and thank them for their efforts. The stuff will be replaced, the family cannot be.