Before, during, and after a hurricane
Hurricane season is underway. Here are some simple steps you can take before, during, and after a hurricane to protect your space and keep your family safe all season long.
How to prepare before a hurricane hits
Canada’s hurricane season generally runs from June to November, and the Atlantic provinces tend to see the most action. Follow these simple steps to prepare for a hurricane before one arrives:
- Review your home insurance policy. At least once a year, you should update your home inventory and review your home insurance policy to make sure you’ll be covered in the event of a storm. Consider asking your broker what coverage is available for flooding or sewer backups, both of which could occur in the aftermath of a hurricane.
- Watch the weather and obey evacuation notices. Storms can come on suddenly, so always stay alert. Environment Canada warns Canadians about extreme weather events through local weather channels and radio stations. If mobile alerts are more your speed, consider downloading a weather app like AccuWeather or Weather Underground. If your local authorities advise you to evacuate your home, do so safely.
- Secure the perimeter. Before a storm hits, strengthen any vulnerable areas around your home (e.g., sealing cracks in the foundation, boarding up leaky windows, reinforcing loose or damaged shingles on your roof, and making sure your sump pump is working). Cut weak or dead branches from trees and shrubs, and consider replacing gravel or stone finishes with mulch or shredded bark. When a storm is on its way, move patio furniture, planters, and other yard fixtures into your shed or garage, as they could be picked up and thrown by the wind.
- Know the signs. It’s not always possible to see a hurricane coming, but there are a few warning signs to watch for, like a sudden swell in the sea level, more waves than usual (with increasing whitecaps), a decrease in barometric pressure, a wall of white clouds, and heavy rain that blows sideways. If you experience any of these signs, check for local weather advisories — depending on your location, you may be asked to evacuate.
- Power down. Consider unplugging larger appliances to prevent electrical issues during and after the storm.
- Stock your emergency kit. You’ll want to have access to at least three days’ worth of supplies for each member of your household (including pets) in case you’re unable to leave your home.
Keep these items in your family’s emergency kit:
Your home emergency kit
- A portable charger for your cell phone
- A battery-powered radio
- Wood or fuel for your heater
- A list of emergency contacts
- A first aid kit
- Bottled water
- Candles, matches, and a lighter
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- Non-perishable food (and pet food for Fido)
How to stay safe during a hurricane
If your local authorities haven’t asked you to evacuate your home, follow these steps to keep your loved ones safe until it’s over:
- Take shelter. Stay indoors and head to the basement or a small interior room like a closet or bathroom, and stay as far away from windows as you can.
- Stay out of your mobile home. If you live in a mobile home, take shelter in a permanent building with a strong foundation.
- Protect your head. Watch for flying debris and keep your head covered. If possible, consider sitting under a heavy table or desk, or use your arms to protect your head and neck.
What to do after the hurricane has passed
A hurricane can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. When you think the storm has dissipated:
- Tune in to your local weather station. Listen for special alerts and advisories from local authorities, as they may tell you what to do next.
- Assess the damage. Carefully inspect your home, making sure furniture and items on shelves are securely in place. Once you’ve looked for any noticeable damage indoors, consider heading outside to check on your yard. If you see any damaged power lines, avoid the area and contact your hydro company.
- Check appliances before you power up. If water has made its way into your home, avoid turning on any appliances that could be wet inside.
- Contact your broker. If your home has sustained damage, reach out to your insurance broker so they can help you arrange to get repairs underway. Your Additional Living Expenses coverage may come into play and help cover out-of-pocket expenses if you need to stay elsewhere while your home is being repaired, or if you’ve been forced to evacuate.
To learn how your home insurance policy could protect you in the event of a hurricane, talk to your insurance broker today.
Want to help your neighbours and friends prepare and stay safe this hurricane season? Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter.