Prepare your house for Atlantic hurricane season

Make sure you're ready for hurricane season.

Make sure you're ready for hurricane season.

Georgia is no stranger to hurricane season, whether you’re located on a coastal town or not. Even if you live more inland, heavy rains and wind from a hurricane can still cause massive destruction. So, it’s important to know how to prepare for all of the effects of a hurricane, not just the waves. Here are 10 tips on how to prepare yourself and your home insurance for hurricane season.

10 tips to prepare your house for hurricane season.

1. Know when hurricane season is.

It helps to know what to prepare for, but it can help more to know when to prepare for it. So, hurricane season in Georgia usually lasts from the beginning of June to about mid-November. That may seem like quite a long length of time for hurricanes to be pelting the shoreline, so don’t worry – the most active season for storms in the past has been during the months of July, August, and September.

2. Inspect your house’s structure.

If you haven’t inspected your house’s structure, it may be time to finally get out your tool belt. Make sure that there are no broken tiles or shingles on your roof. Keep your gutters clean so that rainwater doesn’t get backed up onto your roof to cause rot or leaks. Check your home’s indoor and outdoor walls for cracks or structural damage that could be easily compromised by a storm.

3. Trim your trees in preparation for hurricane season.

Along with your regular home maintenance and home inspection, make sure you’re maintaining the foliage around your home. Look for dead tree limbs and other plants that could cause heavy damage if they fell onto your house. Remember: your home insurance may only pay part of the costs of tree removal if it falls. So, preparing your home ahead of time will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

4. Secure outdoor structures.

If you’ve heard the phrase, “They’ll take anything that’s not nailed down,” you should probably apply it to any structures in your yard during a hurricane. Even “tame” hurricanes can carry winds over 70 mph. A strong storm can bring winds over 170 mph, which can easily blow away your child’s trampoline, playset, or a mobile shed. Those gusts can also easily blow those objects straight into your house or a neighbor’s house. So, make sure that everything in your yard, deck, patio, or porch is secure before a storm puts your outdoor fun indoors.

5. Know where the shut off valves are.

Make sure you know where all of your house’s water, power, and propane shut-off switches are. Map them out before a storm hits so that you and your family can navigate to them easily in an emergency.

6. Barricade your home.

Make sure you know how to reinforce your home properly for a hurricane. Check to see if your house is outfitted with storm windows. Stock up on pre-cut plywood to board up your exterior windows if necessary. Make sure the wood is strong enough to withstand the impact of debris. You should also keep a stock of sandbags handy to place near exterior doors; they can help absorb water that might otherwise seep under your doorways and flood your home.

7. Prepare an emergency kit.

If you’re stuck in your home without water or power, you’ll need to have a few supplies to tide you over until your next steps. Make sure you have a disaster kit that is at least stocked with:

  • A battery-powered or crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • 1 gallon of water per day per person for three days
  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlights and candles
  • A first-aid kit
  • A tarp and duct tape for a makeshift shelter
  • Towels
  • Cash
  • A map of the area
  • Baby and pet supplies, if needed

Additionally, be sure to keep your family’s important documents in a safe and dry place where you can easily access them if needed. Change out the water in your emergency kit every six months as needed. Check the expiration dates on the non-perishable food and replace the supply when necessary. You may also want to consider packing an emergency kit for your car as well.

8. Create and memorize an emergency plan.

If your area is under a storm watch, stay tuned to your local weather channel to find out if the situation escalates. If an evacuation is ordered for your area, don’t wait until the last minute to leave your home. Roads out of your town may close, and even with contraflow lanes, there may be traffic jams that can keep you in an unsafe area.

Before a storm hits, create an evacuation plan with your family. Decide on a common meeting place and make sure everyone knows how to get there. You should also know for sure where you’re evacuating to before a hurricane – whether it’s a family member’s house, a friend’s house, a hotel, or a public shelter. Choose multiple possible destinations, and make sure that they’re in different directions from your home.

Note your state’s evacuation routes and procedures, but also make sure you know how to get to your evacuation location using different paths, with and without major highways. Don’t rely on technology to get to where you’re going – print or write down directions.

9. Create a home inventory.

If worse comes to worst for your home, replacing your possessions will be a lot easier with a home inventory. A home inventory is a good idea to keep in general if you’re a homeowner, but it can also help your home insurance more accurately repair or replace the items in your home if they’re struck by a covered loss. Just make sure that your policy covers your belongings for their replacement cost value (RCV) – or the cost it would take to replace the item – and not their actual cash value (ACV) – or the depreciated value of the item.

It’s best to keep your home inventory in a place that’s secure and easily accessible. With modern technology, that can be easier than ever! Just use a cloud service or online form of documentation for your home inventory, and you’ll be able to access and update your list from anywhere. Plus, it can really help you out in case you have to file a claim.

10. Make sure you have the right insurance.

It’s also important to protect your Atlanta home with the right insurance. Get home insurance quotes by filling out our online quote form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.

8 things you need to know about tornado safety in Atlanta

It's important to be familiar with tornado safety.

It's important to be familiar with tornado safety.As April approaches, it’s a good time to go over severe weather safety – in particular, tornado safety. Chances are we’ll experience a good amount of severe weather alerts in the upcoming weeks. Tornadoes are terrifying vortexes of doom, it’s true, but we’ve got some tips that will help you stay safe and get ready for tornado season.

1. Take all weather warnings seriously.

Living in Georgia, we get our fair share of tornado watches and warnings. We may have grown a little desensitized to them, but it’s important to respect all weather warnings. Be smart and take measures to ensure your safety and that of your family.

Which actually brings us to our next tip…

2. Know the lingo.

When you get the alert from the National Weather Service that your area is under a weather advisory, you need to know what the various terms mean.

A tornado watch means that weather conditions are ideal for the formation of a tornado and that one could occur. Be prepared to take shelter and stay tuned to local news stations, radio, or emergency radio.

A tornado warning means that a tornado will either imminently occur or that one has touched down or been sighted. It’s time to get to your safe place as soon as possible.

Speaking of safe places…

3. Know where to go.

When a tornado is impending, there’s no time to deliberate. You need to know where to go. Take some time to figure out what your safe spots are at home, work, or school so that you’re ready to shelter if need be.

  • If you’re at home…
    • Go to the lowest level of your house and shelter in an interior room, such as a bathroom
    • Choose a room with no windows
    • Crawl under a strong table or desk if you can
  • If you’re at work or school…
    • Follow the institution’s emergency plan as instructed
    • Avoid open rooms with high, large roofs, such as cafeterias, auditoriums, and the like
    • Preferably move to the interior room on the lowest floor
    • Do not take an elevator – if the power goes out it could get stuck
  • If you’re outside…
    • Seek shelter in a sturdy building immediately
    • If you can’t get to a shelter on foot, drive there
      • Pull over if debris and strong wind become dangerous. You have to evaluate what the safest course of action will be for your circumstances. Depending on your situation, you can…
        • Stay in the car with your seatbelt on, keep the engine running, duck under the windows, and cover your neck and head with your hands.
        • Go to a place that’s lower than the roadway, such as a ditch, and lie down flat on the ground. Go far enough away from the car that it won’t get swept onto you.
      • Avoid bridges and overpasses, which are highly dangerous during tornadoes.

April is peak tornado month in Georgia.

4. Coach your family on what to do if there’s a tornado situation.

Make sure that everyone in your family knows the plan ahead of time and knows where to go, especially the kids. Tornado warnings can be scary for them, but if you talk about it and tell them how to stay safe ahead of time it can help.

5. Know how your community spreads the word about severe weather.

You need to be familiar with the way that your community will alert you to a tornado. Some cities have tornado sirens that will sound, others have text message alerts, some might use the radio. Know what to expect and stay tuned for news of the weather if the skies are looking dark.

6. Be aware of the danger signs.

Maybe you think that it would be kind of hard to miss the swirling vortex forming near you. But the thing is that tornadoes, which form when a rotating column of air reaches from a thundercloud to the ground, can be virtually invisible until they start picking up debris and dirt or a cloud forms in the funnel cloud.

So, you need to know the danger signs that mean you need to be on high alert for a tornado. Some things to watch for…

  • Dark clouds that are tinged green
  • Wall clouds
  • Debris or a cloud of dust
  • Hail
  • Loud, freight-train-like sounds
  • Funnel clouds

If you notice any of these things, you might need to take shelter. Nature – and tornadoes especially – are not to be trifled with. When in doubt, seek shelter and try to find out what the weather situation is for your area.

7. Before severe weather hits, prepare your home.

Since we’re heading into peak tornado time, it’s probably a good idea to take some time to get your home ready. To minimize damage to your house in high winds, you can…

  • Move outdoor furniture inside (chairs and tables can become projectiles in high winds)
  • Remove dead or diseased trees from your yard
  • Clean debris away
  • Strengthen your garage door (garage doors often take a beating during storms, and if your garage door gets damaged it can allow the winds into your home, causing the roof to tear off)

8. Make sure you have the home insurance you need.

Home insurance will usually cover damage from tornadoes, but it’s important to make sure that you have enough insurance to completely cover the cost of rebuilding your home and replace all of your belongings. Protect your house and your investment with the right insurance.

Tornadoes can often be unpredictable, but by being prepared you’ll know how to act quickly to keep you and your family safe. Have a tornado plan and go over it with your family. When it comes to natural disasters, preparation is key.

Want to save money on your home insurance? Our agents are here to help you get the best coverage at the best possible rate. We want to take the time to get to know you and your specific situation. To get your home insurance quotes, all you have to do is fill out our online form or give us a call today.


How to create a disaster response plan for your Atlanta business

It's important to have a disaster plan for your business.

Many businesses faced with disasters never open again. There are many types of disasters, from big (think hurricanes) to small (minor fire.) But even the less severe disasters come with a deluge of difficulties and problems for a business owner, even if they do have business insurance. It’s important to make sure that you have a plan to cope with a disaster so that your business can survive. Preparation is essential. To help you get ready for a disaster, we’ve got a few tips for planning.

1. Figure out what your risks are.

You can’t plan for something if you don’t know what it is. You need to think of what scenarios are likely to happen to your business, but don’t forget to plan for things that maybe aren’t super likely but are still possible. For example, what would you do if your business was faced with a fire? A severe storm? Flooding? Do you know how to lower your cyber risks? There are a lot of things that need to be planned for because it’s hard to know the odds of a particular disaster hitting your business.

2. Think about how your business would be affected.

What would happen if one of these disasters hit your business? What would you need to do to compensate and adjust? How would you cope with the losses? Would you have to relocate? How would you keep your business going while your facility is out of order?

3. Get some safeguards and procedures in place to lower your risks.

You’ll need to enlist the help of some of your employees and make them the disaster planning team. Their job will be to brainstorm some procedures to help you keep going in the face of a fire or flood. You should come up with some plans and backup plans for how you deal with the disaster situation. That might include figuring out a location that you can work out of while you can’t be in your building and knowing who to call to repair the damage. You should also know how you’re going to notify employees and customers about the situation, and make sure they know how you’ll be in touch.

Your goals should be to protect your customers and employees from risk and maintain customer service by reducing disruption as much as possible. Your procedures should also include steps to protect your facilities and assets – for instance, taking steps to prevent a burglary at your business. It’s also important to lower environmental contamination risks and protect your organization’s brand and reputation.

Be prepared for a number of disasters that could befall your business.

4. Test your disaster procedures.

It’s not just enough to talk the talk. Everyone has to be able to walk the disaster plan. You need to have an idea of how your procedures will unfold in practice. That might mean training your employees about the procedures and making some calls to find out about the feasibility of your plans. You need to make sure that your plan will actually work when it’s time for you to use it.

5. Keep the disaster plan up to date.

You also need to make sure to revise the plan as you need to. Things change. You need to take into account anything that could cause a need for adjustment or change in the disaster plan.

6. Know how to handle an evacuation.

Apart from planning on how to keep your business going when there’s a disaster, you need to know how to get everyone out of your building safely if there’s something like a fire. To do that, you need to…

  • Know when an evacuation is needed.
  • Have a chain of command.
  • Know who’s going to set the evacuation in motion.
  • Post evacuation routes and plans with multiple ways out of the building.
  • Have a place for people to gather so you can take a headcount.
  • Get a list of names and pinpoint the last known location of missing people.
  • Have practices and training.

Having a clear evacuation plan can help you limit injuries and organize the chaos of an emergency. If everyone knows what to do and how to proceed, they’ll be much calmer and safer in the event that they need to clear out of the building.

Make sure to have an evacuation route for your building in case of disaster.

If you have a small business, you need to know how you’re going to cope with a disaster situation. Take some time to think about how you’re going to keep the ship afloat and how you’re going to make everything as smooth as possible. Having a plan and knowing what to do will spare you from a lot of uncertainty when it comes to handling a disaster, and it’ll help your employees and customers feel much less stressed and frustrated with the situation. Being prepared never hurt anyone.

If you need insurance for your business, we would love to help you out with that! We can get you free quotes for your business insurance, including property, general liability, and workers’ comp. All you have to do to get started with getting your insurance is fill out our quote form or give us a call today.