Though hurricanes often come with some warning, preparing investment properties and tenants well in advance is of the utmost importance. Natural disasters don’t wait on humans to be ready to respond. Being ready can help lessen the stress of an emergency situation. Share the tips below with your investor clients – it could mitigate loss in the event of a weather incident, save thousands of dollars or even save a life.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October.
The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
While these are the common seasons for cyclones, storms can occur at any time of the year, even as early as April.
Prepare the Property
- Be sure trees and shrubs are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Secure loose gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage.
- Retrofit to secure and reinforce the roof, windows, and doors. Garage doors should also be braced.
- Move indoors any exterior furniture, yard ornaments, or play equipment that could act as a dangerous projectile.
- Cover all windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- If an investor has staged a property with valuable items, such as rugs or art, they should be moved away from windows and to upper floors if possible.
- Be sure the battery backup for the sump pump is working to prevent drain backups.
- Purchase a portable generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
- Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.
Advice for Tenants
- If local authorities advise to “shelter in place,” tenants should go inside as quickly as possible.
- Close and lock all windows and doors, shutting any storm shutters.
- If flood waters rise to dangerous levels, go to the highest level of the building and call 911. Do NOT climb into a closed attic as you may become trapped.
- In case of high winds, go to a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level.
- Continue to listen for current emergency information and instruction.
- Have on hand adequate supplies (including water for several days) in case they lose power or are unable to leave due to flooding or blocked roads. Have enough supplies for your household, including medication, water, nonperishable foods, and pet supplies in a to-go bag you are able to grab quickly.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Do NOT drive around barricades. Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.
- If in a mobile or manufactured home, GET OUT and go to the nearest shelter. Do NOT walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
- If an investor or their tenants have evacuated the area, STAY PUT. Do NOT go back to the affected area until local authorities advise it is safe to return.
- Stay informed by listening to or watching local broadcasts or by using the FEMA Mobile App.
- Hurricane Safety Tips from FEMA: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
6 Steps for General Disaster Preparedness from Ready.gov
- Review the insurance policy with your investor clients. Named Storm (Tropical Storms/Hurricanes) coverage and Flood coverage (for storms surge) are both purchased separately, so make sure they know what they are and are not covered for those areas. They should consider requiring tenants to carry renter’s insurance to protect their belongings.
- Consider providing basic supplies for an emergency preparedness kit in their welcome packet, including a flashlight, batteries, and first aid supplies. Tenants will also need medications and copies of critical information if/when they need to evacuate.
- Share resources to help tenants make an emergency plan including an evacuation plan and a communication plan. Connect tenants with local emergency management agency contact information.
- Make a plan for contacting tenants in the event of an emergency. Be sure tenants know how to best contact the property owner or property manager during an emergency too.
- During the event, stay tuned to phone alerts, TV, or radio, for weather updates, emergency instructions or evacuation orders. In any emergency, always follow the instructions given by local emergency management officials. Tenants should be advised to do the same.
- Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in a given area, search the Internet with the town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.” NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio and television newscasts are several other reliable methods for obtaining the latest information.