Sakraida Says: Be Prepared
As a leader of Citizens’ catastrophe response, I’m often asked if planning for the unexpected carries over into my personal life. I learned early on that “prior planning prevents poor performance” – and that has really stayed with me in both my personal and professional life.
We’re now at the peak of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Unlike COVID-19, hurricanes are relatively easy to plan for – thanks to advance notice from reliable weather forecasters – and we’ve had plenty of practice responding to storms the last five years.
Preparing Home and Family Is Priority No. 1
From my experience, here is what I would recommend for you to remember when a storm approaches. First, analyze where you’re located and the construction of your home. This will help you determine whether to evacuate. Access is critical, so think about the surrounding roads and what may happen to them in a windstorm or from flooding.
If you decide to shelter at home, understand the time and processes needed to protect your family and home from damage. Boarding up a house can be a costly, arduous and time-consuming task.
Plan for Being Without Power
Following any major storm, it may take time for the critical infrastructure resources to regain full functionality. Here’s a few things to consider:
- Life without credit or debit cards: The ability to “pay with plastic” may be impacted, and cash may be the only option. Stock up on cash when a storm is coming.
- If you have a generator, it needs to be properly maintained and tested throughout the year to ensure it is in good working order. After a storm, many items – including generators – will likely cost more or may not even be available.
- Maintain a hurricane kit: Cash, medications, batteries for flashlights and lanterns, battery operated weather radio, manual can opener, propane or charcoal grill, fully gassed up vehicles, gas for generators, portable air conditioner or fan and a power bank for charging electronic devices.
- Most experts recommend a seven-day supply of nonperishable food and drinking water (one gallon per person, per day).
- Protect critical personal items or take them with you. Replacing items such as birth certificates, passports, insurance paperwork, titles and deeds takes time and effort.
Being prepared and having a plan can not only save time and money, but it can also protect your personal safety. In addition to great resources on our website, there is information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross sites.
Craig Sakraida is the Vice President of Nonlitigated Claims, and he oversees Citizens’ catastrophe response efforts.