With summer’s arrival also comes the start of Atlantic Hurricane season, which delivered Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2018. With NOAA’s just-released announcement about a near- or above-normal season, the disaster restoration experts at ServiceMaster Restore, one of the largest residential and commercial disaster recovery companies in the U.S. and a part of the ServiceMaster (NYSE:SERV) company, say it’s important to be prepared and to know what to do if you receive any weather related to tropical storms or hurricanes.
“With the wrath of 2017’s storms still fresh in the mind of many, now is the time to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Peter Duncanson, a 30-year disaster recovery veteran of ServiceMaster Restore. “Don’t get caught flat-footed with a storm quickly moving in. Now is the time to make electronic copies of all important documents and take pictures of your home pre-weather emergency so you have something to share with insurance providers. Be sure you know how to contact your local utility company to turn off the water, gas and electric if flooding is imminent. Lastly, have a plan – know how to not only get out of your home, but your neighborhood as well, if mandatory evacuations are declared.”
After the storm has passed, anyone who has been ordered to evacuate should wait for the authorities to declare it's safe to go home. When it is, keep these steps in mind:
1. Safety first.
Avoid driving or even walking in floodwaters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving waters can sweep your vehicle away. Furthermore, floodwater might be electrically charged by downed power lines. If you see any fallen power lines, call your utility company immediately. Do not assume someone else has already contacted them.
2. Check the power.
When you return home, turn off the power to your house if you can reach the breaker box safely, or ask your power company to cut power remotely. Standing water inside your home can create an electrical shock hazard.
3. Check the structure.
If your home's structure or foundation appears unstable, do not attempt to go inside. Immediately call for professional help and get a thorough assessment of the damage. Water damage after a hurricane can cause walls, ceilings and floors to swell, decay or collapse.
4. Take inventory and contact your insurance agent.
Photograph and document all damages to your home and belongings to support any future insurance claims. As soon as possible after a storm, contact your insurance company or representative to check your coverage and start the process of filing a claim.
5. Partner with professionals.
Professional restoration companies like ServiceMaster Restore offer 24-hour emergency assistance to minimize the impact a storm can have on your home. Water damage restoration experts come equipped with the best practices and tools to extract water, dry your home and belongings, restore damaged items and prevent the development of mold so you can get back to normal as soon as possible after a major storm.
ServiceMaster is the proud sponsor of the American Red Cross Emergency app, which provides expert advice on what to do before, during and after severe weather events and includes maps of nearby shelters and notification capabilities to let friends and family know you’re safe. To download, text “GETEMERGENCY” to 90999, search “American Red Cross” in the app store or go to redcross.org/apps.