North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has joined Gov. Roy Cooper in the effort to prepare North Carolinians for the onslaught of Hurricane Florence, now a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm.
“The best advice I can give is to prepare now, you won’t be sorry,” said Commissioner Causey. “Know your insurance coverage, take pictures of your belongings, and leave your home if you need to in order to be safe. Being prepared in your home and at your workplace is the best way to survive a disaster and will put you in the best position for recovery once this emergency passes.”
Commissioner Causey offers several tips to help residents prepare for the onslaught of inclement weather that may accompany what’s forecasted to be a devastating storm: (Download this broadcast quality video message from Commissioner Mike Causey.)
- Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Know exactly what your insurance policy covers. Homeowners policies do not cover flooding. You can only purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. However, there is typically a 30-day waiting period before flood policies take effect. If you live in a rental property, your landlord’s insurance only covers the building. None of your personal belongings are insured unless you purchase your own renter’s policy.
- Compile important documents. Gather important paperwork, including insurance policies, medical records, and prescriptions. Be prepared to bring copies with you if you are forced to evacuate your home.
- Create a home inventory. Go room to room in your home and write down the brand name, description, estimated value and date of purchase of items in your home. It is also helpful to compile receipts, appraisal documents and serial numbers. Take videos or photographs of your belongings. Store your home inventory and related documents in a safe, easily-accessible place online, on your smartphone, on your computer or in a fire-proof box or safe deposit box.
- Identify potential hazards around your home. Hanging tree branches, loose shingles, patio furniture and other outdoor objects can cause damage or injuries in a storm. Make repairs or secure large objects to reduce the threat.
- Review contact information. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information for your insurance agent and insurance company and make sure they have accurate contact information to reach you.
Consumers need to be especially careful during power outages, as the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fire increase. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has offered the following tips to ensure homeowners stay safe:
- There are battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup installed in your home – place them outside separate sleeping areas and on each floor of your home.
- Make sure your CO and smoke alarms are working properly.
- Your generator has had proper maintenance and you have the proper extension cords for connecting the items you need to power.
- Read the owner’s manual and labels on the generator, be sure to follow the instructions.
Why is this important? Poisonous carbon monoxide from portable generators can kill you and your family in minutes. CO is an invisible killer, it’s colorless and odorless. More than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning, about 70 of those are related to portable generators.
After the Storm
The storm has hit and the power is out. Now what?
- Operate portable generators outside away from doors and windows and direct the generator’s exhaust away from the home and other buildings that someone could enter. The CDC recommends placing the portable generator at least 20 feet away from the house.
- Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed, or on the porch. Opening doors or windows will not provide enough ventilation to prevent the buildup of lethal levels of CO.
- Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm when it rings. Get outside immediately. Call 911.
- Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy, and then call 911. CO poisoning from portable generators can happen so quickly that exposed persons may become unconscious instead of experiencing these symptoms.