As if the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been challenging enough, forecasters are predicting more tropical weather events than usual in the coming months. We want everyone in our community to stay safe, which is why we’ve put together this list of 10 ways to prepare for Virginia’s 2020 hurricane season.
While we don’t know if we’ll still be self-isolating at that point, given what we’ve already seen this year, keeping our homes safe and comfortable is even more important than ever. Although, you may already be doing some of these things, be sure to review this list as you prepare for the potential of dangerous weather this hurricane season.
Virginia’s 2020 Hurricane Season Predictions
This year, hurricane season will run from June 1 to November 30, 2020. That’s a long time. We know it’s a bit of a challenge right now, with so many essential businesses and services running at lower capacity, but we must do our best to be prepared.
Right now, 16 named storms, including eight hurricanes, have been forecasted and four are expected to become Category 3 to 5 storms with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. There’s also an increased risk that at least one of these major hurricanes will make landfall. While forecasts can be wrong, don’t take the risk — start getting prepared now.
Build an Emergency Kit
As we continue to follow guidelines intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we know you’ve probably been operating in survival mode for a while already. Even if you think you have everything you need, though, be sure you’ve restocked your emergency preparedness kit so that you have at least three days’ worth of supplies for each person in your home.
You could purchase a pre-made emergency kit through sources such as the American Red Cross, but most of us can easily make our own at home. Here’s what you should include:
- Non-perishable food items
- First-aid supplies
- Flashlights (and batteries!)
- Full tank of gas in your vehicle
- Change of clothes
- Garbage bags
- Whistles (to make noise if someone is trying to find you)
Create a smaller kit with all of these items and keep them in your vehicle in case you need to suddenly leave your home.
Review Your Homeowners Insurance
We should all have homeowners insurance, but the added expense can be discouraging for many. If there was ever a time to seek coverage, though, it’s now. If you already have a policy, set aside some time to really look through it. You don’t want to try figuring all this out in the wake of a disaster.
One of the most often overlooked issues is a lack of coverage for flood damage. If you find that you need to add to your coverage, getting it taken care of as soon as possible is your best bet, as many policies often have a 30-day window before changes go into effect.
Use Sandbags to Prevent Flooding
Richmond is a rainy city on a good day, so during storm season, we are especially at risk for floods. While there’s not much that you can do but wait it out once the rain begins, you can definitely plan ahead.
Being in Virginia, it’s not a bad idea to keep some sandbags in your garage, shed, or basement for times like this. That way, you won’t have to fight the crowds at your local hardware store. When it’s time, you can place them strategically around your home to divert flood water away from your property.
Clear Your Yard
Many homeowners enjoy having a place where they can relax, fire up the grill, and entertain guests. As such, you might have lawn furniture, toys, and more in your backyard. It’s also not uncommon to have loose branches, gardening tools, or unstable bushes out there, as well.
When a storm is approaching, remove as many items as possible and put them in storage, then tightly secure anything that can’t be moved. If high winds hit your area, the last thing you want are things blowing around your hard. They can hit your home or outdoor HVAC unit and cause damage.
Clean The Gutters
Have you had your gutters cleaned recently? If not, this is an important step you can take to prepare for Virginia’s 2020 hurricane season. When your gutters are full of debris, flow could be restricted, preventing them from efficiently directing water away from your home and roof.
If you feel confident, you can perform this task yourself, but when major storms are in the forecast, it might be worth leaving this to the professionals. They can ensure that all blockages are removed, and they can alert you to any potential problems.
Prepare for a Power Outage
No one wants to deal with a blackout during a hurricane, but the unfortunate reality is that you should be ready for one. You could be spared or simply lose power for a few hours, but it could also be days before your service is restored. Here are some ways you can prepare:
- Install a surge protector to protect your appliances and electronics from power surges.
- Unplug devices if the power goes off.
- Locate your water, gas, and electricity shut offs in case local utility officials ask you to turn them off.
- Fuel up your generator (if you have one) and review instructions for using it safely.
Being without power for any amount of time is inconvenient and can make life very difficult. When you prepare ahead of time, you can protect your home against long-term damage.
Turn Fridge and Freezers to Coldest Setting
Now that we’re all hunkered down due to the Stay at Home orders associated with the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a good chance you’ve stocked up on food. As a result, your perishable items could be at risk of spoilage if the power goes out.
If you haven’t already, turn your fridge and freezer to the coldest settings ahead of a storm. This ensures that food has been chilled or frozen as much as possible, buying you extra time if your appliances aren’t working. Try to avoid opening the fridge and freezer door during a blackout to keep things at their coolest.
Shutter Windows and Doors
Installing storm shutters on your windows and doors is a worthy investment if you live in Virginia. Usually, these are made of some type of metal and can be purchased at hardware stores. It can take some time to get these firmly in place, so you don’t want to leave this until the last minute.
If you don’t want to go that route, you can always stock up on plywood which can be used to board up windows and doors on the exterior of your house. This is an affordable solution, but plywood can sell out quickly during storm season so grab some as soon as you can.
Create An Evacuation Plan
It’s our sincerest hope that you and your family will be able to remain safely at home throughout Virginia’s 2020 hurricane season, but you should also have an evacuation plan in case things escalate. The last thing you want is to be scrambling at the last minute when a hurricane is heading in your direction.
Come up with an escape route that takes you away from the path of the storms, make sure that your vehicle’s gas tank is full, and that you have cash on hand. If you need to stop at a shelter, call ahead and confirm that they have space for your entire family and mention any pets you have with you. Choose an out-of-town person as your emergency contact and select two specific locations to meet in case you and your loved ones get separated.
Prepare Your HVAC for Virginia’s 2020 Hurricane Season
You might be wondering what steps you should take to protect your HVAC system from the harsh weather. W.G. Speeks has been proudly serving the Greater Richmond Region for more than 75 years and we’ve got many tips for keeping your heating and cooling unit safe during hurricane season.
Whether it’s guarding your outdoor air conditioning equipment against airborne debris, learning ways to manage moisture and humidity damage inside your home, or inspecting your HVAC system after the storms have passed, we’re here to help. We offer a no-risk, free consultation to help determine the best solutions together. Call W.G. Speeks today!