TOWSON, MD (September 10, 2018) – Hurricane season is peaking just as Hurricane Florence is gaining strength and taking aim at the East Coast.
Based on the National Weather Service’s forecast as of 2:00 a.m. this morning, Maryland may not take a direct hit from Hurricane Florence; however, the State is highly likely to feel the storm’s impact. Travelers, homeowners and motorists should take the time to prepare now for the potential impacts of the storm. Strong winds, heavy rains and flooding could cause havoc for travel plans, property and driving ability.
“Hurricanes are not always top of mind for Maryland residents, however it appears we will feel the effects of Hurricane Florence in our area, though the exact impact is not yet clear,” says Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “AAA Mid-Atlantic urges travelers, homeowners/renters, and motorists to take the next few days to prepare for the potential disruption a storm can cause.”
AAA Hurricane Preparedness Tips
Safety. Will your trip take you in the path of the storm? Will your personal safety be at risk?
Contact your travel agent – they will have access to the latest travel updates/cancellations and can help you explore all of the options available to you.
Investigate cancellation/rebooking options immediately. Plan ahead; understand the situation may change quickly as the storm approaches.
Understand cancellation requirements and penalties, if applicable.
Know what coverage any purchased travel insurance does/does not provide.
Continuously monitor the situation as things can change quickly and dramatically.
Sign up for emergency weather/news alerts via email/text (e.g. National Weather Service).
Stock an emergency kit for you/your family for at least several days (battery-operated/hand-cranked radio, flashlight, and a phone that isn’t dependent on electricity; extra batteries, cell phone chargers, first aid supplies and medications; water supply, non-perishable food and a manual can opener on hand).
Update your home inventory, on paper or with a camera/smartphone. Note the replacement costs for your most valuable items, then talk to your insurance agent or insurance customer service to be sure you have the right coverage.
Make sure you have the insurance coverage you need. Flooding is generally not covered by standard homeowners insurance, and separate flood policies require a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect.
Don’t forget your pets. Have a secure location for your pet and an emergency supply kit, as well as medical records and medication.
Check gas tank, tire pressure, windshield wipers, lights, etc.
Pack vehicle emergency kit.
Review emergency evacuation route (if needed).
Charge cell phones.
Heed local travel/driving warnings and/or restrictions.
Slow down, increase following distances.
Turn around, don’t drown! NEVER drive through standing water. Flooding can occur quickly and without warning.
AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests taking the following actions before, during and after the storm:
Before the Storm
While making sure your home is covered for storm damage is important, keeping yourself and your family safe during a storm is more important.
The following emergency supplies should always be kept on hand:
• Canned food items and bottled water
• Flashlights with extra batteries
• A battery-operated radio
• Sheets and blankets
• Essential prescription medications
• Emergency cash
• Stock a cooler with ice
• Keep what cold air you have inside the freezer – do not open the door any more than necessary. A full freezer should stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about one day. If your freezer is not full, group packages so they form an "igloo" to protect each other.
An emergency evacuation plan should be in place for every member of the household. Identify the nearest storm shelter, and suggest a meeting point should family members get separated.
Brace Your Home for Storm Damage
There are some basic things you can do to protect your home from storm damage. Install storm shutters or cover windows to prevent window breakage. Check for loose siding on your home and secure it if necessary. If you need to evacuate, turn off all your utilities and disconnect any electrical item in your home. Water and electricity don't mix, so any device left connected is a potential fire hazard.
Take a Home Inventory
While the outside of your home might be most prone to storm damage, your personal belongings are also at risk in a storm. Because of this, documenting your personal possessions with a home inventory is highly recommended. Having a home inventory makes filing a home insurance claim simpler, and can help expedite the claims process.
If you don’t have a complete home inventory including receipts and model numbers, you can still make one using your smart phone or camera. Take photographs or video of your personal possessions, open closets, drawers and cupboards and get photos of every room. A home inventory can include clothing, jewelry, furniture, personal computers and other personal property. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your home inventory in an outside location, like a safe deposit box or trusted family member's home.
After the Storm
Photograph and document the damage
With storm damage to your home, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company -- do so as soon as possible. The earlier you file a home insurance claim, the faster it will be processed. Also, you may be required to file your claim within a certain time frame, so don't delay. Incomplete or inaccurate information can result in a delayed claim, so make sure you have all necessary paperwork in-hand when contacting your home insurance company.
You may need to make minor repairs to storm damage that will prevent further damage to your home, like fixing broken windows or making temporary repairs to protect your property if possible. For permanent storm damage repairs, wait until your insurance company has examined the property. If you have storm damaged property, do not throw it away until the claims adjuster inspects it.
If the temporary repairs are made prior to a claims adjuster inspecting your home, be sure to save your receipts and keep a record of all of your temporary repair expenses.
If possible, move your property to protect it from further damage. If you are unable to move large belongings, try to protect them from the elements using a tarp or plastic.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 975,000 members in Maryland. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.