September is National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month. Louisiana citizens are familiar with the many types of weather disasters common to our state including hurricanes, tornados, various types of storms and flooding.
“After seeing the severe impact of Hurricane Irene, now is a good time for consumers to review their personal emergency plan to make sure they are ready to respond quickly to any type of disaster that may arise,” said Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon. “Preparation is the key to keeping people calm and rational when disaster strikes.” Donelon also suggests that families hold drills on their emergency plans several times a year.
The Internet offers several resources on preparedness and planning, including www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov. Another source for great tips on preparing for disasters is the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness’ “Get a Game Plan” Web site found at www.getagameplan.org. Residents can also visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 for more information about their flood risk and the benefits of purchasing a flood insurance policy.
Here are a few tips on being prepared for emergencies:
1. Develop a family emergency plan.
- Create a safety kit with survival supplies including: bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery‐operated radio, at least three days of nonperishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies and enough cash for at least three days.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
- Establish places inside and outside the home for everyone to meet in case of an emergency. Select at least two escape routes from inside your house and practice using them.
- Always heed evacuation warnings. Plan and practice an evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground in case of flooding.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact and be sure all family members know that person’s phone number.
- Have a plan to protect your pets.
2. Safeguard your possessions.
Create a personal emergency file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. Have a back-up of important documents on a flash drive and keep it handy. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information.
- An inventory of your assets. Keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. There are a variety of home inventory tools available to assist you including smart phone applications. For more information visit www.knowyourstuff.org.
- Copies of all other critical documents including finance records, receipts of major purchases, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and legal documents.
3. Prepare your property for high winds and flooding.
- Regularly inspect large and aging trees around your home and business; always remove dead branches as these may create an additional hazard from flying debris.
- As hurricanes approach remove possible “flying objects” from your yard such as lawn furniture, barbeque pits and children’s toys.
- Protect glass openings with permanent or portable storm shutters when hurricanes are approaching. If not possible tape glass openings to help prevent glass, debris, or rain from entering the building.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts
- Anchor any fuel tanks in low lying areas.
- Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home's projected flood elevation.
- Place appliances on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
- Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
4. Know your coverages. Check with your producer to find out if there is a named-storm deductible written into your policy. For example, a two percent named-storm deductible would require you to pay up to two percent of the insured value of your home instead of the usual deductible you pay when you have other types of losses.
5. Purchase flood insurance and don’t delay. Standard homeowners insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Properties that are not located in high-risk areas can also flood (i.e. flash flooding). Consumers should not wait until there is an approaching storm to try to purchase a flood policy since there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a flood policy goes into effect. Find out your flood risk by entering your address at www.FloodSmart.gov “Assess Your Risk.”