As I sit here writing this, Hurricane Irma has just made landfall in Florida. Over the last few days, I have watched my Facebook newsfeed go insane in preparation for what this storm may bring. It’s uncertain who will be affected since the storm’s track is so unpredictable.Initially the predictions indicated that Hurricane Irma would strike the eastern side of the country. This prediction would impact Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. I have family that live in all of these states and we also own a home in South Carolina. So as you can imagine, we’ve been quite frantic. These predications have since changed, but it doesn’t erase a lot of the comments and concerns I saw from my social media pages.
Last year, I experienced a mandatory evacuation during Hurricane Matthew. Without hesitation, I packed up our children and traveled to North Carolina to stay with a friend until the storm had passed. We were fortunate to be able to do that. People are not always able to leave in such short notice. Whether it be lack of funds, unreliable transportation, nowhere else to go, and the list continues.
Now that majority of my family is out of the immediate threat of the hurricane, I’d like to share some tips to help us all prepare for the possibility of the unexpected.
Insurance is a very important part of day to day life. The purpose of insurance is to protect your property against an unexpected loss. It is important to have insurance on any and all property that cannot be easily be replaced. A small insurance premium is paid regularly to insure your property. In the unfortunate event that a loss occurs, you file a claim to have the property repaired or replaced. So paying a small monthly premium on your property prevents you from having to pay the full cost of repair or replacement.
Things to know: Insuring your property at it’s value is important. The higher the value of the property, the more you pay for insurance. Although everyone wants low monthly bills, you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to insurance. If you do home improvements, or purchase items of higher value after purchasing your insurance, update this information with your insurance company.
The purpose of having insurance is to have your items replaced at an equal value when you file a claim. You also want to choose deductibles that you can easily pay. Even though a higher deductibles reduces the amount of your monthly payment, it isn’t beneficial if you are unable to pay your deductible at the time of a loss. Your property will not be repaired or replaced if you are unable to pay your deductible. Always ask questions and make sure you fully understand the terms of your policy and that you are getting what you are paying for.
I cannot stress enough how important savings is. If you don’t have a savings account that you maintain on a month to month basis without touching, you need to get one. This is not optional. An emergency savings is just as important as groceries and electricity. In the event of an emergency, you need money for food, gas, and shelter. You would also need money for recovery expenses such as insurance deductibles and home repairs.
Having a lack of funds is one of the main reasons people choose not to evacuate. There are a lot of people in the United States that are living paycheck to paycheck. Being in this type of situation makes it difficult to have the excess funds to jump up and go without prior notice.
Saving money and building an emergency fund can be difficult. Check out my post on building a savings for tips. on how to get started.
If You MUST Stay
Being prepared for the weather conditions is critical for survival. It’s best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Many websites like National Hurricane Center can provide you with a wealth of information to help prepare you. They address topics such as hurricane tracking, what to expect during a hurricane, items to keep with you, recovering after a hurricane and much more. Check out their website http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ to get more information.
One of the tips that I found to be really resourceful was to purchase a small boat, canoe or raft. Flooding is a major effect in tropical storms and hurricanes. A lot of times people survive the hurricane, but die in flood waters while awaiting rescue teams. You can purchase a two person inflatable raft for less than $20 at Walmart. If leaving isn’t an option, a small investment in one of these items can be life changing.
Another very helpful tip was to use zip-lock bags to freeze water. The food that is in your freezer will last a little longer with the ice bags. This will be helpful during power outages. You will have drinking water when the ice melts. This may not always be an option. The severity of the storm is the biggest determining factor, and this is something that is hard to know in advance.
It is always a good idea to create an emergency kit that includes flashlight, batteries, can opener, and canned foods. There are lists available that provide more specific items to include and their benefits. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/plan.shtml
You can always replace lost property, but you cannot replace a lost life.
If your only reason for staying is the fear of losing your property, this is a horrible decision. I understand that we all work hard for the things that we have. In the midst of strong winds, rain, surging and whatever else may arise, your main focus should be on life. That means saving your life and the life of others. Things are replaceable. Your safety is always most important.