As we begin to recover from Hurricane Sandy, we realize that perhaps we aren't as prepared as we should be. Scary as it is, now is the time to take steps to ensure that if devastation hits your family, your house won't be one more thing to worry about. By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.
Get flood insurance
Unless you live on the beach, protecting against water damage likely isn't your number-one concern. However, contrary to what you might expect, flood insurance does not come with most home insurance policies - sadly, many woke up after Sandy to learn that their homes weren't covered. Flood insurance can be bought separately via the National Flood Insurance Program, and the average policy costs only $600 extra per year. Depending on your risk level, it might be worth the additional investment since some experts claim storms of the century will now happen every 20 years.
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Be safe under your roof
You work hard to always keep a roof over your head, and it'd best stay that way during a storm. Especially if you live in an older home, hire a contractor to advise you on how to optimize the structure against the elements. Jim Whittle, Assistant General Counsel and Chief Claims Counsel for the American Insurance Agency, suggests looking into metal straps to more strongly secure roof rafters to the walls, which can prevent roofs blowing away in high winds.
Guard the garage
Your car-park is a large space, and if heavy gusts unhinge the door and force it open, a great deal of pressure can enter your home, blowing out windows, and picking up objects. To ensure that your garage door is intact and can withstand high winds, dig out the guide you received when you bought it. If the door was there before you, or if you have additional questions, call the manufacturer. The inquiry isn't an unusual one, and they'll be able to better advise you.
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Secure the outdoors
"In a storm, lawn furniture becomes projectiles that can wreck your home," says Whittle. If you can't bring outdoor furniture, and kids toys such as skateboards and bicycles indoors before a storm, use a strong chain - like those you lock up your bicycle with - to anchor them to stronger or heavier objects. Otherwise, they can hurt property and people.
Stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot have entire sections dedicated to protecting homes from natural disasters - and they're there all year-round. Instead of battling the crowds when the forecast turns ominous, hit those aisles now.
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Invest in storm shutters
"People think of storm shutters as nice, old-fashioned fixtures, but they're highly useful," says Whittle. "When secured, they can prevent a projectile from coming through your windows, which keeps the house from pressurizing so that you might have a roof collapse." Some styles are removable, so if you don't like the look, there's no need to tack them on for good.
For more recommendations on how to keep your property, safe, visit Ready.gov, which is operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
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