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If you own a house that is located along the ocean or bay or within a coastal community, you've most likely had your share of hurricane warnings, and you may have even suffered the effects of a storm. Although you can't stop storms from happening, with preparation, you can protect your family, your home and your possessions from their damaging effects. Sometimes, the best way to fight back is to be ready.

How to Prepare Before a Hurricane or Windstorm

  • Stay informed about approaching storms by monitoring NOAA Weather radio or local television and radio stations for updates and evacuations.
  • Become familiar with your community's disaster preparedness plan and know your evacuation route. Select a common meeting place or single point-of-contact for all family members. If you have pets, have a plan for their evacuation as well.
  • Fill your gas tank and charge your cell phone so you're ready in case of evacuation. Be sure to bring your phone's charger with you.
  • Clear debris out of gutters and downspouts to allow proper drainage.
  • Remove weeds, debris or leaves out of window wells or install window well covers. The presence of such debris can act as a liner not allowing water to evacuate the window wells.  
  • Keep important documents, such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers and insurance policy information, as well as valuables such as jewelry, in a safety deposit box or in a bolted safe in an interior closet in your home.
  • Maintain an emergency supply kit that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing and toiletries. Replace and/or refresh items in your kit every six months.
  • Trim large trees and shrubs. Bring outside patio and lawn furniture, potted plants, and outdoor bicycles and toys indoors. Close and secure all awnings and tie down any loose items that may become projectiles in a high wind.
  • Make sure windows, doors and skylights are protected with appropriate shutters or impact-resistant glass. Plywood can be used as last-minute protection.
  • Regularly test your gas-powered generator and have plenty of fuel to ensure that it's ready when you need it.
  • If you are a collector, make a list of all works or objects in your collection. Include notes about any existing damage, as well as the condition of the frames and bases.
  • Secure all interior wall hangings and be sure that art hung on outside walls are taken off the wall and placed in an interior room, at least 3 inches off the floor.
  • Bring outdoor sculptures inside or secure outside in burlap or blankets tied with rope.
  • If you're located in a potential flood zone, move your car to higher ground or park it in your garage, carport or against the house to protect at least one side from flying debris. Do not park under trees, power lines or in low-lying areas.
  • For cars in your home garage, park them against the garage doors to keep them from buckling inward and potentially blowing them off the tracks.
  • Keep your family emergency kit as well as booster cables and tools, tire repair kit/spare tire, matches, flashlights, shovel and traction mats in your car.
  • Keep a copy of your homeowners insurance policy with you, in a waterproof container.

What to Do During a Hurricane or Windstorm

  • Stay informed about approaching storms by monitoring NOAA Weather, local television and radio stations for severe weather updates.
  • Turn off utilities and evacuate if requested by authorities.
  • Identify a "shelter" room in your home. This enclosed area should be on the first floor, in the central part of the house with no windows. Avoid all unprotected windows and doors until the storm passes.
  • Appliances, including personal computers, should be unplugged and stored away in cabinets or interior closets.
  • Move appliances and household fixtures away from exterior doors and window openings.
  • Avoid driving on coastal or low-lying roads. If authorities allow vehicle traffic, use extreme caution when driving across water-covered roadways, especially if the water is moving.
  • Keep away from fallen power lines. If you are in an automobile that is hit by fallen wires, do not leave the vehicle. If you must leave the vehicle, jump out and off with both feet so you are completely clear of the vehicle before you touch the ground.

What to Do After a Hurricane or Windstorm

  • Beware of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the proper authorities.
  • Use your emergency supply of water or boil any water before drinking until official word is given that the water is safe.
  • Do not operate any generators or gas, propane or charcoal grills indoors or near your home’s ventilation areas.
  • If your home has sustained damage, take steps to prevent further damage by covering the roof with tarps and by covering windows with plywood if it is safe for you to do so.
  • If you have wet or damaged artwork, blot off excess moisture, remove wet backings, mats and frames and then keep them in an air-conditioned room. Contact a professional conservator for assistance as soon as possible.
  • Remove tarps and protective coverings on outdoor objects and rinse with clean water.
  • Dust items left indoors with a soft brush and wipe metal objects with a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • If you drive, be aware of fallen utility lines, debris on the roads and other hazards. Make sure you have a spare tire in case road debris results in a flat tire.
  • When driving, pay attention to any other post-storm changes, such as missing signs or broken traffic lights. Be cautious of any moving water before driving through it, as the current could carry your car away and possibly trap you inside.
  • Wash any debris from your car and take photos of any damage.
  • If you’re a Chubb policyholder and you suffered damage from a hurricane or severe storm, click here to begin the claims process.

What to Keep in Mind for New Construction

If you are building a new home or an addition in a hurricane-prone area or rebuilding after damage from a hurricane or storm, understand that choices made during the construction process can go a long way in helping to protect your home and property from extensive damage. Here are some things to consider, whether or not required by local building codes:

  • Install impact-resistant storm shutters on all windows, doors and skylights.
  • Install entry doors that have at least three hinges and a deadbolt that fully secures into the doorjamb. Entry doors should be constructed of solid wood or hollow metal.
  • The roof covering and structure should be properly installed to withstand high winds. Framing of the home should include all building code-approved hurricane straps at the roof to top wall connections that are properly secured and braced.
  • To prevent water intrusion, use deck tape to seal all joints and seams of the roof deck.
  • Garage doors should be designed for impact resistance or reinforced to withstand high winds. Retrofit kits and storm bars are available to help strengthen garage doors.
  • Consider installing a gas-powered backup generator to power your appliances in the event of a power outage during and after storms. Being able to run a sump pump during a power outage may help prevent water damage.

Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at Insurance provided by ACE American Insurance Company and its U.S. based Chubb underwriting company affiliates.  This document is advisory in nature and is offered for informational purposes only as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. The information contained in this document is not intended as a substitute for legal, technical, or other professional advice, nor is it intended to supplant any duty to provide a safe workspace, operation, product, or premises. No liabilities or warranties are assumed or provided by the information contained in this document. Chubb, 202 Hall's Mill Road, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889-1600.