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What to Do During and After a Hurricane

woman looking through the window at home as a hurricane approaches

Hurricanes can pose a serious hazard for people and properties in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. Floods, heavy winds, and other severe weather factors can cause damage quickly. Read this short guide about how to stay safe and protect your property both during and after the next hurricane.

What to Do During a Hurricane

During a hurricane, it is important to avoid going outdoors or driving because the winds and flooding can be dangerous. If you must be out in the storm, then it is important to:

  • NOT drive around road barriers
  • NOT walk through flowing water
  • NOT drive through flooded roads

Also, continue monitoring the media for any emergency information. Look for credible emergency information shared by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and other government agencies. Also, you need to follow instructions given by the public safety officials.  

If directed to evacuate, you need to do so immediately, and take only your essential items and any pets, if possible. Given that conditions change fast, you need to be ready for evacuation to different places as directed and if necessary.

What to Do After a Hurricane Has Passed

After a hurricane has passed and you had evacuated, return home if authorities say it is safe to do so. Continue to listen to news reports to know if the water supply is safe. Before local authorities declare your water supply safe, you need to boil the water before drinking or using it for food preparation.

As soon as it’s safely possible, check your home for any signs of damage. While checking your home, you need to:

  • Repair leaching systems and damaged septic tanks to minimize potential health risks.
  • Hire a qualified electrician to assess any damages to electrical systems.
  • Have a professional check your wells for contamination.
  • If you suspect there is a gas leak, go outdoors immediately and contact a licensed professional to check it out.
  • In case your home or property is damaged, document the damage by taking videos and photos and contact your insurance company.

Also, report any power outages to your utility company. If you’re waiting for the power to return, be careful to only use grills and generators outside because their fumes contain dangerous gases.

Try to avoid entering floodwaters in and around your property. Seek the services of a professional cleaning and repair company to clean and disinfect your home. Check on neighbors and friends, especially the elderly and those who live alone.

At Vargas & Vargas Insurance, we’re here to help you protect your home, property, and family. Call us today to learn more about hurricane-related coverage, flood insurance, and safety tips to help you get through the storm.

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Recap: Prepare for Hurricane Season

“Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable.” – Diane Ackerman

It’s official: hurricane season has begun. Now that there’s the potential for a hurricane any time, have you started to prepare your home? In last week’s full blog post, we detailed several ways that you could help to get ready for the potential of a hurricane hitting the northeast this summer or fall. Here is a quick recap of the tips:

  • Prepare your home by having your roof inspected regularly. If there is a storm coming, bring in anything that could act as a projectile in high winds, like patio furniture, bicycles, and potted plants.
  • Update your emergency kit with everything you would need for a few days without power, including water and nonperishable foods. Also include entertainment for everyone in the household!
  • Have an evacuation plan. It is invaluable to have a few potential destinations picked out just in case you are ordered to evacuate. Make sure to account for any family pets, if you have them. If there’s a hurricane coming, fill your car’s gas tank before the inevitable rush on the gas station.

And remember, it only takes a few minutes to have a Massachusetts insurance professional review your home insurance. One call to 617-298-0655 and you will know whether you have enough coverage to weather a potential storm. But don’t wait for the rain to start falling – before we end up on the wrong end of a spaghetti plot you need to call!

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Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

It’s the beginning of June, and that can only mean one thing: the beginning of Atlantic Hurricane Season! While we don’t tend to get hit as hard as more southern states, Massachusetts still typically gets hit by a few storms every year, so it’s worth making sure that your home and your loved ones are prepared for any storm that may head our way.

2018 Hurricane Season Predictions

As always, this year’s hurricane season will last from June 1 until November 30. In those six months, there are expected to be 12-18 named storms, 6-11 hurricanes, and 2-5 major hurricanes. This would represent an above average year in terms of hurricane activity.

The hurricane names that will be used this year are as follows: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, William.

These are the same names that were used in the 2012 season (the names cycle every six years) with the exception of Sara, which replaced Sandy (retired in 2012). If any of these storms are significant enough, their names will be retired and replaced in Spring 2019. Otherwise, these same names will be used in 2024.

Hurricane Emergency Kit

You should always have an emergency kit in your home. Occasionally, though, you need to check to make sure that it is still stocked. The start of hurricane season is a great time to do this. Gather your emergency kit, and make sure that it follows the Red Cross’s guidelines, including:

  • A two-week supply of food and water for every member of your household.
  • A flashlight and a radio (both with extra batteries).
  • A first aid kit.
  • A multi-purpose tool.
  • Items for sanitation and hygiene.
  • Copies of personal documents, emergency contact information, and extra cash.
  • And more…

When you have an emergency kit with these items, you can rest assured that your household will be ready if you need to hunker down for a few days to wait for a hurricane to pass. Remember to avoid going out until local officials say it is safe to do so.

Evacuation Plan

In rare cases, a hurricane will be threatening enough that officials will suggest or order an evacuation. In case of this situation, it is important to make sure that your car has enough gas well before an evacuation is ordered.

Depending on which direction the hurricane is coming from, you may need to have evacuation plans in several different directions. Talk with the other members of your household about potential destinations, including shelters, hotels, and friends and family members that live in another town.

While evacuating, use routed recommended by local authorities. Remember never to drive through flood waters, and keep an eye out for downed power lines, especially as you return home.

When a Storm Threatens

If and when a hurricane watch or warning is issued, there are a few things you can do right away to make sure that your home suffers as little damage as possible. First, secure anything that could act as a projectile in high winds. This could include lawn furniture, outdoor potted plants, bicycles, etc. Also ensure that damaged trees and limbs are removed so that they won’t snap off during a storm. If you can, secure your windows and other vulnerable areas with plywood so that they are less likely to be hurt during the storm.

Ensure that your cell phone has a full battery well before the power might go out and stay in contact with friends and relatives so that someone knows your plans. It may also be nice to check on elderly neighbors to make sure that they are equipped for the storm.

In Case of an Insurance Claim

If a hurricane hits the Boston area, your home may suffer from damage. If this is the case, you will need to call our agency to begin the claim filing process. Phone lines here can get busy after a big storm, but you can rest assured that we will help you with your claim. In the meantime, please do what you can to prevent further damage to your property.

Speak to one of our Massachusetts home insurance experts to find out what you will need to get the claim process started. Depending on the problem, this could include pictures of the damage or a copy of your home inventory if you have one. Also make sure that you have any accessible policy information ready when you speak to an agent – the more information you have available, the easier the claim process will be.

Home insurance and flood insurance are the only true ways to make sure that you are financially prepared for potential hurricane damage. Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to speak to an insurance agent. They can tell you if you have enough coverage to get you through the coming hurricane season and beyond. Our agency offers free insurance reviews, so it’s worth your time to talk to your insurance agent and to have them assess your coverage.

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Prepare for Fall and Winter Storms

In the Fall and Winter, New England can get hit with some nasty hurricanes and blizzards. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your family – do a little bit of prep now and you will be ready when a storm threatens the area. Here is a list of some of the things that you should have to get you started:

  • Food and Water – You should always have enough nonperishable foods and water for each member of your household to last one week or more. This typically means one gallon of water per day, plus foods like canned goods, and dry foods like cereal, nuts, crackers, and protein bars. And don’t forget to keep an emergency food supply for pets also!
  • Clothing – Each person in your household should have access to plenty of warm clothing, including hats and gloves.
  • General Supplies – If a storm is coming your way, make sure you have essential supplies handy. These will include flashlights and extra batteries, a first aid kit, paper dishware and plastic cutlery, paper towels, toilet paper, medications, and more.
  • Tools – You will need a few tools to weather a storm. Scissors and a manual can opener are a must. In addition, it would help if you had access to a pocket knife, multi-function tool, and a fire extinguisher.

While you’re preparing for potential storms, you should gather digital items as well as physical. There are certain phone numbers you should have stored in your cell phone. These include your local fire and police lines, the power company, the nearest hospital, and your insurance providers. To find out if your insurance is ready for a fall or winter storm, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

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Create a Family Emergency Plan

Hurricane season is in full swing here in New England – are you prepared? One of the best ways to make sure that you and your family are ready in case of an emergency is with a family emergency plan. If you don’t have one, here are some things that you should think about and decide:

  • Designate one out-of-town family member or friend that each person in your family can contact if there is an emergency. This person will be in charge of making sure that everyone is safe and act as a liaison between family members if needed.
  • Every person in the family should know the out-of-town contact’s phone number, as well as one phone number for each member of the family. “It’s in my phone” doesn’t count – these numbers should be memorized so that they can be accessed from anywhere.
  • Designate two meeting places in case of an emergency. One should be local – somewhere within a few miles of your home. The other should be further away in case of a more widespread disaster. Also make sure family members know the location of the closest shelter in the area.
  • All family members should know the locations of family emergency kits – including those in the home and in vehicles. Make sure everyone knows what is in the kits and how each item should be used.

Make sure that you are doubly prepared by keeping the Vargas and Vargas Insurance numbers among your emergency contacts. By having our office number (617-298-0655) and our after-hours line (617-322-5289) with your other numbers, you will be sure that you are able to get a claim going right away on your home, auto, or flood insurance policy if you need to do so.

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Hurricane Season 2017 is Here!

The 2017 hurricane season in the Atlantic will run from June 1 until November 30. Estimates for the upcoming season are already beginning to surface, and they aren’t mild – is currently predicting a total of 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of which will be major. This is right in line with the 2016 season, which had 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes (4 major).

Do you know what your home insurance policy will cover if a hurricane causes damage? While every policy is different, most offer protection for damage caused by heavy rain, wind, and hail. In addition, your home insurance may offer coverage if your home is severely damaged resulting in your need to seek shelter elsewhere – this is often called ‘loss of use.’

One important thing to note is that your home insurance probably doesn’t include coverage for damage due to floods – that is covered by a separate flood insurance policy. Since hurricanes and flooding often go hand in hand, flood insurance is something you might want to consider adding to your insurance portfolio in order to ensure complete protection.

Let’s talk numbers: in total, the 2016 storms caused over $16 Billion in damage. It’s not unheard of for a hurricane to affect us here in Massachusetts, so make sure that your belongings are protected. This includes your home, car, and more. To get a complete car and home insurance evaluation before the first threat forms, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

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