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Floridians are now facing the ill-fated combination of a major hurricane at the exact same time as the last major holiday weekend of the summer. In preparation for Hurricane Dorian everyone at The Matassini Law Firm wishes you and your family a safe Labor Day Weekend. Before you kick back, relax and start to enjoy the long three-day weekend don’t fall into the trap of not taking the advancing hurricane seriously or waiting until the last minute to begin thinking about how to safeguard your family and property. As lifelong Tampa Bay area residents we have seen some great ideas over the years at reducing property damage from a major hurricane or tropical depression.

Follow the 5 P’s of Prior Preparation Prevents Property Problems. Reduce property damage and get through any hurricane emergency with less stress by preparing before the season begins, or if you have to…. a few days before a category 4. Here is an overview:

*          Plan your evacuation route well ahead of time

*          Keep non-perishable emergency supplies on hand

*          Take an inventory of your personal property

*          Review your insurance policies

*          Take steps now to protect your home and business

  1. Plan your evacuation route well ahead of time.

If you live on the coast, bay, or in a mobile home, you may have to evacuate in the event of a major storm like Hurricane Dorian. While you’ll no doubt get instructions from the local government, it’s wise to create your evacuation plan well before this disaster strikes. This way you can know ahead of time about the nearest shelters, take your pets into account in your plan, make sure to take important papers, and make a trial run.

  1. Keep non-perishable emergency supplies on hand.

When a hurricane warning is issued, people first run for the stores – hopefully you won’t have to. If you need to evacuate, you’ll need to bring these vital supplies with you. As expiration dates approach (for example, food or batteries), check the items and replenish your emergency stash as needed. As much as possible, get ahead of the rush and having the following on hand:

  • Extra batteries
  • Candles or lamps with fuel
  • Matches (keep these dry)
  • Materials and tools for emergency home repairs–such as heavy plastic sheeting, plywood, wrench, MC   hammer, etc.
  • Prescription drugs
  • A three-day supply of drinking water
  • Food that you don’t have to refrigerate or cook
  • First aid supplies
  • Portable NOAA weather radio
  • Flashlights and other basic tools and gadgets
  1. Take an inventory of your personal property.

Creating a home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process, substantiate losses for income tax purposes and is helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid. In the event you need to evacuate, be sure your home inventory is among the important documents you take with you.

  1. Review your insurance policies.

Keep in mind that your homeowners insurance should cover the cost of temporary repairs for hurricane damage, as well as reasonable additional living expenses (ALE) over and above your normal living expenses if you have to relocate (such as the extra expense of getting to work or to school if your temporary home is in a different community).

However, your homeowners policy doesn’t automatically cover flood damage, so you may want to consider looking into flood insurance. If you live by the coast, you may also need a separate policy for protection against wind and wind-blown water damage. If you have questions about what your current policy will cover or need to augment your current coverage, contact your insurance company.

  1. Take steps to protect your home and business.

Hurricane force winds can turn landscaping materials into missiles that can break windows and doors and much of the property damage associated with hurricanes occurs after the windstorm when rain enters structures through broken windows, doors and openings in the roof.

While retrofitting your home to protect against these possibilities is undoubtedly an expense, you can always do it in stages.

Replace gravel or rock landscaping materials with shredded bark, which is lighter and won’t cause as much harm. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed. Install storm shutters to protect your windows from breakage. Alternately, fit plywood panels to your windows, which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.

Make sure exterior doors are hurricane proof and have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one-inch long. Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood. These types of doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.

Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through an opening this large poses grave problems for the rest of your home — especially your roof.

Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall. Use a high quality urethane-based caulk to prevent water penetration.

If you live in a mobile home make sure you know how to secure it against high winds and be sure to review your mobile home insurance policy. If you have a boat on a trailer, know how to anchor the trailer to the ground or house and review your boat insurance policy.

Hurricanes take a toll on businesses too, so be prepared. Create an emergency business response and continuity plan. In the event of a hurricane this will help your business quickly recover. Keep contact information for employees, suppliers and vendors current so you can check on their wellbeing and communicate next steps for resuming normal business operations. Review your business insurance policies in order to understand what is covered.

Since 1976 The Matassini Law Firm has been committed to protecting consumers and home owners during the toughest of times. Visit our website at www.matassinilaw.com to learn more about our firm and what we can do for you and your family.

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