Reduce Your Risk

There are many thing you can do to mitigate or reduce the risk of damages from an emergency.

  • Learn about the hazards.
  • Check your insurance, Make sure you not only have the right kind of insurance but that you have enough of it.
    • Review your homeowner insurance policy.  Make sure you have enough to repair or rebuild your property after significant damages.
    • Consider flood insurance.  That homeowner policy may cover water damage from a burst pipe inside your home but it likely does not cover water damage from a flood.  Visit the National Flood Insurance Program webpage for information on resources, and visit FloodSmart.gov to see what the risk of flooding is in your neighborhood.
    • If you are a renter, get renter's insurance.  Your property manager's insurance may cover damages to the structure you are renting, but it will not cover contents like your property.
    • Review your business insurance.  If you are a business owner, make sure you have resources in place to reopen after a disaster.  Visit the NHC Business ready web page for resources and information to help you plan.
    • Consider pet insurance.  Cover unexpected costs for injuries or illnesses for pets that can come up during an crisis.
  • Strengthen your home.
    • Anchor heavy furniture.  This includes securing televisions to the wall and installing child-proof locks on cabinets.  These steps not only reduce curious kids from getting hurt - they also reduce damages by lessening the chance something will fall over or that things being stored inside cabinets will fall out.
    • Install hurricane storm shutters or have pre-cut plywood stored to cover windows.  Duct tape and masking tape will not do anything to make your windows stronger during events like hurricanes.  Instead, install something over the window to reduce damages to the glass.
    • Locate and label gas, electricity, and water shutoffs.  Do you know how to secure utilities in your home?  Do you have a gas key to help secure your natural gas coming into your home?  Be sure to plan ahead and know how to turn off water at the main, turn off gas at the meter, and how to turn off the electricity from the breaker box.  Make sure others in your home know how to do the same.
    • Consider installing flexible water and gas lines to replace the hard rubber connectors to appliances.  This not only reduces the wear and tear at the connection points, but also gives a little flexibility if there is flooding that floats appliances.
    • Consider using hurricane straps and/or clips to secure roofs to wall structures.  Also consider using heavy polyester hurricane straps for carports, stand alone sheds, or other small outside structures.
    • Elevate outside utilities.  Especially if you live in areas that flood frequently, raise items like HVAC units and propane tanks from the ground to reduce the chance of flood damage.
    • Secure appliances like water heaters to the wall studs to reduce the chance of the unit tipping over and causing water damage.
    • Consider plans to keep pipes from freezing. Although we do not see cold temperatures for long periods of time, we do see cold snaps that can freeze pipes.  Consider wrapping pipes with insulation and have a plan to slowly defrost pipes if they freeze.
  • Maintain and trim trees and bushes around your home.  Not only does keeping trees and shrubbery trimmed help reduce damages from falling limbs, it also helps to keep animals like squirrels off of your roof (and out of the attic!).  This also helps reduce the locations people can hide on your property.
  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.  Test your smoke alarm monthly and replace batteries at least every six months.  
  • Clean your dryer lint trap every time you use the dryer and clean the exterior dryer vent at least annually.
  • Learn how to help with response and recovery efforts.  Consider taking a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class, taking a Citizen Sheriff Academy, or volunteering to help in times of emergency.