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Get started now, before storm season begins

Here's a checklist of things to start working on now to prepare for hurricane season. We offer more details in this section on many of these topics: window protection, documents to set aside, insurance, the gear and food you'll want to have ready.

• Start planning how you will protect your windows and doors. Shop for window protection (shutters, screens, rolldowns). If you decide to go the plywood route, buy it now, cut it to size, predrill holes and label the pieces. Learn how to protect your garage door.

• Repair to prepare. If your home needs a new roof, if the siding needs repair, if the chimney needs repointing, if the soffits need replacing — wait no longer. Clean out gutters and downspouts and keep them clear. Check your roof for overflow drainage so there's no pooling of heavy rain, especially on flat roofs.

• Plan how you will survive in your home for some time without power. If you think you will want a generator, buy it now and learn how to use it. If you don't know how to use a chain saw to cut down damaged trees, learn now.

• Find and read your insurance policy. Discuss with your agent whether you have sufficient coverage. Do you need flood insurance? Have you added window protection that will trigger a rebate or reduction in rates?

• Compile the important paperwork and a few irreplaceable items you will take with you when you leave the house. Place these items in an easy-to-carry, waterproof box.

• Prepare an inventory of your home's contents. Include receipts if available. Take photos (burn a CD, put on a flash drive or store remotely) or make a video to support an insurance claim.

• Learn how to secure your home if you have to leave, including where and how to turn off power, gas and water. Several family members should know how to do this in case everyone is not at home when an evacuation is called.

• Start stockpiling the materials you will need to make emergency repairs: tarps, duct tape, plywood, tools. Power may be out when the storm passes, so plan to use charged cordless tools or hand tools.

• Have trees trimmed to eliminate dead branches that could become missiles or could damage power lines. Have dead or rotting trees removed.

• Condo and homeowners associations should plan how to secure property in case of a storm, compile contact information for residents who evacuate or spend the summer elsewhere, and create a plan for emergency board meetings.

• Make a family communications plan. If you have only cordless and cell phones, get a land line that plugs into a phone jack in the wall. This may be your best option if the power goes out and cellular towers are damaged. Designate an out-of-state relative as a contact point and establish a family phone tree.

• Begin to stockpile items you'll need: a radio, flashlights and plenty of batteries for both; a grill to cook on, plus fuel; a first aid kit.

• Pick up a few items for the hurricane pantry every time you shop: bottled water, canned meats and fish, canned fruit, individual-serving puddings, powdered milk, toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, liquid soap, plastic bags, bleach.

Get started now, before storm season begins 05/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:58pm]

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