There are many reasons individuals choose to move to the coast—including the warm weather, proximity to the ocean and a chance to escape the fast-paced city life. No matter the reason, researchers say that living near the ocean is good for your mental health. But those who are new to coastal living should be prepared for hurricane season and the added stress it may cause.
Traditionally, hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30 for the Atlantic and Caribbean. An average hurricane season has 12 named storms, but because storms are unpredictable, the severity of each hurricane season varies. For example, the 2017 and 2018 seasons each had several catastrophic storms.
What you should know about hurricane season
If you are new to living near the coast, remember that every season is different, and not every storm is a concern. Tropical waves have maximum wind speeds of 30 mph, tropical depressions have maximum winds of 38 mph and tropical storms move in a counterclockwise rotation with winds of 39–73 mph. Tropical storms are the most-watched storm type because these become hurricanes once winds reach at least 74 mph.
Homeowners should research their new home and implement safety measures. Over one-third of homeowners believe flooding is covered in their homeowners’ insurance policies, which is a misconception that could be catastrophic if disaster strikes.
How to prepare for hurricane season
As a new coastal homeowner, you can take steps to prepare your house and life before a hurricane arrives.
1] Plan an evacuation route. Coastal communities typically post evacuation routes that residents and visitors alike can use in emergencies. Get familiar with these ahead of time so you'll know what to expect when communities call for mandatory evacuations.
2] Inspect the roof and gutters. Your roof should be in working condition to protect you if a hurricane passes through. Inspect your roof twice a year to make sure all shingles are in place and there are no cracks or soft spots. Clean out gutters often to prevent debris from clogging the pipes and trapping water on the roof.
3] Review your insurance policies. While homeowners typically understand the importance of having home insurance, some don't know that it won't cover every catastrophic event. These policies typically cover damage from hurricane-force winds and the costs of temporary housing, but they don't cover flooding. It is also important to understand that being in a lower-risk area doesn't guarantee you are entirely immune from flooding. Homeowners who are uninsured should understand the dangers of flooding. Having one of these policies—which average $58.25 a month—could save you thousands in repairs.
4] Order sandbags to prevent flooding. Hurricanes often involve flooding, which could leave families scrambling to protect their homes. Even a few inches of standing water around a house can seep in under doors and through cracks. Stack sandbags against doorways to prevent indoor flooding and keep the house free of damage.
5] Secure outside property. Bring swing sets, patio furniture, grills and toys inside or secure them outside when a hurricane is on the way. This will keep them from flying away and damaging property or hurting people.
6] Audit your personal property. When was the last time you made a list of the property inside your house? Homeowners should keep an up-to-date list of the items they own in case there is damage. This list can be used to help you file an insurance claim for replacement and repairs. One of the easiest ways to start a property audit is to move from room to room taking pictures on a digital camera and then saving them on a USB drive in a safe.
7] Keep an emergency kit stocked. The kit should include batteries, flashlights, bottled water, food, first-aid supplies and blankets. Purchase these supplies as soon as you move to the area. Waiting until a storm comes is not the best choice because stores often run out of these important items.
8] Invest in storm shutters. One of the best ways to protect your home from high winds is to install storm shutters on all windows. Avoid mounting the shutters on the window, instead, fasten them to the wall around the window, which makes them sturdier and more capable of resisting wind impact.
If you've recently moved to the coast, you must prepare your home before a hurricane arrives and review your existing insurance policies.
Too many homeowners don't realize that most home insurance policies, especially for properties near the coast, exclude damage from flooding. By reviewing policies now, you can identify whether you need to buy flood insurance for your new home.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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