A Guide to Assessing Property Damage After a Hurricane
Hurricanes of all severity levels can devastate entire communities in a matter of hours. From damaging infrastructure to homes and valuables, it can be heartbreaking when assessing the aftermath of a storm.
Today, we’re going to cover how to inspect your home after a hurricane. First, let’s start with some basic safety precautions.
Don’t Return to Your Home After a Hurricane Until Cleared to Do So
If you evacuated your home before the hurricane, do not return to the area until the authorities have given the okay to do so. Safety hazards could still be present in the neighborhood or your property might be accessible due to natural events like flooding.
Most Important: Keep Yourself Safe
Avoid Large Puddles of Water
Large puddles of water can mask greater safety risks underneath. They may conceal a live electrical wire or, if large enough, hide a dangerous creature like an alligator. Like us, gators want to seek shelter during an intense storm and might hide on your property or in a body of water. If you see one in your proximity, do not approach it under any circumstances.
Do Not Venture Into Damaged Parts of a Building
Some hurricanes can completely or partially destroy a home. If you notice a damaged area while inspecting your property, do not attempt to enter it. The structure may no longer be sound and could collapse on top of you if you are inside. Instead, assess the damage from outside and take detailed notes of your observations.
Use Protective Gear
When inspecting your property, wear the proper safety equipment. This can help prevent injury from debris as well as keep you comfortable and dry. Some key items you bring with you might include:
- Waterproof boots
- Safety goggles
- Flashlight or lantern
Keep Your Phone On You if Sheltered Indoors During the Hurricane
Authorities not issuing an evacuation order does not mean that your home is free from the risk of damage. In some cases, a person could become trapped inside part of their home if the structure collapses.
Keep your phone handy in case a situation like this occurs on your property. Call 911 immediately and report that you are trapped in your home and need urgent assistance.
Inspect Your Doors, Roofs, and Windows First
Your doors, roof, and windows are your home’s first line of defense. Without proper protection, they can become damaged by the forces of a hurricane. Inspect them for any signs of cracks, breaks, or displacement.
When inspecting the roof of your home, look for any damage to the shingles that could indicate an opening where water could have traveled into your home. This will indicate both a leak and where part of your roof needs to be replaced.
Check Your Home for Flooding, Leaks, and Water Damage
On the inside of your home, look for any bloated or discolored floors, walls, or ceilings. This likely indicates water damage. These parts of the structure will need to be replaced to ensure your safety is not compromised by moldy or rotted materials.
Look for Signs of Utility Damage
Beyond losing access to utilities, your home’s utility lines can also suffer damage. In some cases, this can affect the structure of your home as well. For example, an oil main could flood a basement and render a house uninhabitable.
When you are cleared to inspect your home, test the utility connections inside to determine if they have been disrupted. Turn on faucets, flip on light switches, and turn on the stove briefly (as long as there is no gas-like odor present) to make sure that your water, electric, and gas are all functional.
If you notice any odor reminiscent of rotten eggs or sulphur, leave the home immediately as this could indicate a gas leak. Call your local fire department and report this.
Be sure to also avoid touching any electrical line directly. Damaged wires can still be live and pose an electrocution risk.
Check for Damaged, Lost, or Stolen Valuables
Valuable outdoor possessions like expensive lawn equipment and vehicles are likely to suffer damage in the aftermath of a hurricane. They could also be stolen if a burglar is looting properties before people return home from evacuation.
Similarly, if your home is impacted by the forces of a hurricane, this can also affect valuable items you store inside. Catalog all high-value damaged items for your insurance provider so you can receive adequate compensation later.
Report Your Findings to Your Insurance Provider(s) Immediately
You’ll notice we used “provider(s)” in the title for this section because not all insurance providers will cover hurricane damage. While many have clauses for natural disaster coverage, not all do and some only offer limited compensation.
Depending on the extent of natural disaster coverage in your insurance policies, you may want to consider also purchasing supplemental hurricane insurance. This ensures that you can receive greater protection in the aftermath of an intense storm.
Use Impact Windows as Part of Your Hurricane Damage Prevention Plan
There are many sound practices that you can put into action to protect your property against hurricane damage. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is by installing impact-resistant windows in your home.
Impact-resistant windows function like normal glass window but are constructed with sturdier material to withstand the wear and tear of hurricane activity. Unlike other options like metal shutters and wooden boards, they also require no setup or teardown and can be individually repaired as needed. This results in less preparation time and more cost-effective maintenance for homeowners.
At Paradise Exteriors, we are proud to offer our neighbors in Florida industry-leading impact-resistant windows as well as courteous service and the most generous warranty options available. If you are looking to start better-protecting your home for hurricane season, contact us today for a free estimate.