Often clients will ask how to prepare for a storm when they are away. The answer is that there is plenty to do and early planning can help. Don’t wait for a storm watch or warning to be issued – that may be too late!
Put Someone in Charge
Let’s begin with what you can do before a storm arises. First, put someone in charge. A home watch professional can be your “boots on the ground”. If you, or someone you know, needs a homewatch professional please contact us today. Call 239-455-0459 e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have selected someone, make sure they have keys/access information and an up-to-date list of your preferred home repair and maintenance persons.
Do a Video Inventory and Unplug
If you don’t already have one on file, and you can’t get to Florida to do it yourself, ask your homewatch professional to do a video inventory. Cnet.com advises a current video inventory is a good way to substantiate a claim if your property is damaged during a storm. Additional things you can request your homewatch professional to do in order to avoid storm damage include simple things like:
- Clean-out perishable foods from refrigerators and freezers.
- Empty ice trays and turn off ice-makers. If the power goes out, this helps eliminate potential water damage.
- Unplug any non-essential appliances. According to State Farm Insurance “You never know when a power surge may occur, so be prepared. Disconnect the computer, TV, stereo, and other electronics, or make sure they are plugged safely into a surge protector.” This helps prevent damage to electronics and potential fire hazards.
- Make sure important documents are safely stored and backed-up. Real Estate Professional Dave Ramsey states that “it’s always a good idea to have a hard copy on hand, filed safely away just in case. You never know . . . hard drives fail or get lost and computers crash……When in doubt, print it out”.
Stay In Touch and Stay Off Social Media
Preparing ahead of time is the best practice. Once you know a storm is approaching, stay in touch with your homewatch professional and timely respond to any updates or requests. In addition, avoid “advertising” on social media that your Florida property is vacant before, during, and after a storm. Smartertravel.com reminds us to “stop and think: Who exactly is reading this stuff?” Many people post “without fully realizing that there may be hundreds of complete strangers receiving your daily musings.” After storms, public safety infrastructures are terribly strained. Announcing that your home is vacant could make it attractive to theft or vandalism.
Have a Post-Storm in Place
Finally, have a post-storm plan in place. Your homewatch professional will check your property as soon as possible after a storm. Keep in mind that cell phone towers may be out, power may be down, streets may be impassable, and stay-at-home orders may be in place. Try to be patient and don’t panic if you can’t reach them immediately.
If you are planning on returning to your home after the storm, please pay attention to bulletins and advisories from the national, state, and local officials. Sites like Ready.gov, FEMA, and the National Hurricane Center provide storm information as well as the local police and sheriff’s offices. Keep in mind that there may also be gasoline shortages and other scarcities as well, especially after a major storm.
Preparing for a Storm Early is the Key
In Florida, hurricane season is just beginning. Preparing for a storm early when you are away is the key. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your Florida property, contact us today and we’ll be happy to try to help.