Home insurance

Here’s what to do before and after the big storm

Thursday, October 13, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

car with tree on top of itYou’ve probably heard by now, there’s a nasty storm brewing. You can take steps now and after to minimize damage.

Before the storm hits

  • Check for cracked trees and branches that could cause damage if blown down.

  • Replace batteries in flashlights and portable radios.

  • Secure awnings, canopies (including truck canopies), garbage cans, barbecues, and other items that could blow away.

  • If you rely on a well (and an electric pump) for your water, store some water beforehand in gallon containers.

  • Don’t rely on cordless phones, which don’t work when there’s no power.

  • Unplug TVs, stereos, computers, and appliances to prevent surges when power is restored.

  • water coming out of downspoutClear your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters and drains can wreck homes by forcing water into places you don’t want it to go.

  • Check your basement sump pump, if you have one, to make sure it’s clean, plugged in, and working.

During and after the storm

  • Use common sense – stay out of harm’s way.

  • Be alert for downed power lines and stay away if you find one.

  • If you lose power, do not use a camp stove, barbecue, or gas lantern in the house! Use them outdoors only. Otherwise, there’s a serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Never use a generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your house because of carbon monoxide danger.

  • Burn candles only in noncombustible containers, and never leave them unattended.

  • Re-channel standing water away from your foundation, taking care not to shift your water problem to a neighbor’s property.

  • road partially floodedBe cautious at intersections, where traffic lights might lose power.

  • Back off on the gas and increase following distances on rain-slick roads.

  • Don’t drive through standing water if you can’t clearly see the pavement. Just 12 inches of water is enough to float your car.

  • Brake steadily. With antilock brakes, “plant and steer” rather than pump the pedal to maximize stopping power.

Cleaning up water damage

  • If your roof leaks, carefully puncture small holes in sagging ceilings to relieve trapped water. Put pans underneath. After that, stay out of rooms with sagging ceilings.

  • Call an electrician to inspect any possible electrical hazard. Don’t turn on ceiling fans or use electrical outlets where the ceiling or walls are wet. The wiring may be damaged.

  • flooded streetsDon’t risk electrocuting yourself by using electrical appliances while standing on a wet carpet or floor, especially concrete floors.

  • As soon as possible, remove excess water by mopping and blotting with a towel or cloth, particularly on wood surfaces. Don’t use your household vacuum to remove water.  

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