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VaultMay 14, 2024 7:00:00 AM10 min read

How to Prepare for a Hurricane: Safety Tips and Hurricane Checklist

According to the NOAA, the average number of severe weather events in the US was only 8 per year before 2017. Now, it’s 18 due to hurricanes increasing in frequency. Learn how to prepare for a hurricane before the storms begin to protect your home.

75% of the days with tropical storm activity and 95% of the days with major hurricanes occur between mid-August and the end of September. But the season begins June 1st, and the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project is forecasting an intense 2024 season. They predict 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes, 5 of which they expect to be major hurricanes. This is almost double the typical yearly forecast.

As a result, Triple-I has issued a warning to homeowners to prepare now. We at Vault Insurance encourage our insureds to put in place an emergency movement plan for their luxury vehicles and high-value items as well.

In recent years, storms have occurred before and after the official hurricane season. Many homes flood or get damaged wind from storms that never earn official names. 

In other words, you must be ready for anything, and the best time to start preparing is now. 


Featured Resource:
How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Essential safety tips and emergency supply checklist for hurricane preparation.


When is Hurricane Season? 

When and how long is hurricane season? What qualifies a storm as a hurricane? 

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, spanning five months out of the year. 

A tropical storm forms when a storm has sustained winds over 39mph. It turns into a hurricane when winds exceed 74mph. Scientists, as well as insurance carriers, use a variety of tools to predict and mitigate the effects of these storms.

Storm size and strength can influence the direction the storm will travel. But the margin of error when predicting a storm’s path has significantly reduced since 1990. This has allowed for better preparation and warnings.


Infographic Hurricane Preparedness


How to Prepare for a Hurricane

One of the best things you can do is create a hurricane emergency plan before the season starts. When making your hurricane prep list, consider all your assets - not only your home - and each family member's needs.


Gather Important Information

  • Collect copies of important documents. Store them in a protected, dry place such as a safe deposit box or fireproof/waterproof safe. You should also store a digital copy in two-factor authenticated cloud storage. FEMA recommends as a resource for securing your valuable information.
  • Review your insurance coverage and keep updated photos and/or a video inventory of your personal belongings.  
  • Collect phone numbers for your insurance company, doctor, veterinarian, and family members. Make sure they are all saved in your cell phone contacts.  
  • Identify your evacuation routes. Have an alternate route planned in case the first option is not navigable. 


Understand Your Insurance Coverage

  • Speak with your broker to ensure you have proper coverage ahead of the storm season.
  • Items of high value, such as fine art, jewelry, and collectibles, have limited coverage on homeowners' policies. Discuss with your agent if you should expand your coverage with a Collections policy. If you have one already, update it with any recent changes or additions.
  • Flooding is a frequent side effect of hurricanes, yet flood damage is not covered under a traditional home policy. Inquire about adding this coverage, if needed, before the season begins. Please note: Flood policies have a waiting period, so it's critical to speak to your agent sooner than later.
  • Know your policy deductible on all your assets, as well as any CAT-related endorsements.


Protect Your Home and Valuables

  • If there is a risk of flooding in your area, consider sandbags for hurricane preparation. Some local municipalities have sand and sandbags for free during hurricane season.
  • Clip trees and shrubs away from your home. Remove any dead limbs or other loose pieces, such as coconuts from palm trees. 
  • Clear your gutters of debris. 
  • Anchor or store away any furniture, planters, or decorative items weighing less than 30 pounds. 
  • Do not drain your pool or put patio furniture into it.
  • Reinforce windows and doors with storm shutters. Many insurers require you to use your storm shutters if there is a storm approaching.
  • Take photos of valuable items and the interior and exterior of your home to create a home inventory. If your home is damaged, this will help with assessing assets during a claim.
  • Store your artwork at least 6 inches off the floor and away from areas prone to flooding, such as a basement.
  • If you have an extensive art collection, plan how you will move it. Choose a reliable art handler with a climate-controlled warehouse.
  • Compile a list of trusted vendors for emergency situations, including fine art shippers, handlers, conservators, and art storage facilities.
  • Vault recommends maximal preparedness to protect your high-value items by moving them to a secure location. Items like jewelry can be stored in a bank safety deposit during emergency situations. Alternatively, a waterproof storm closet could be a wise investment.


Don't forget these annual maintenance items: 

  • Shutters: Organize your storm shutters and check that locking mechanisms are in good working order.  
  • Roof tiles: Check for any cracks or shingles that need replacing.
  • Stucco: Look for any cracks and repair before rain can leak in. 
  • Garage door: Grease any tracks and wheels and secure bracings to prevent damage.
  • Generator: Have your portable generator serviced before hurricane season begins. A service provider should check a whole-house generator annually and run weekly tests. 


Safeguard Your Vehicles

  • Double-check that your windows and sunroof are completely closed.
  • Bring inside all important paperwork, such as your car registration.
  • Park your vehicle in your garage to reduce the risk of damage, if your garage is a safe location (see below).
  • Garage doors are often not very sturdy during high winds. Consider moving items and shelves that could fall and damage your car.
  • If you cannot park in a garage, or your garage is prone to flooding, move your vehicle to covered and elevated parking. Keep your car away from trees and utility poles, and park next to a sturdy building if possible.
  • For situations where you may have more vehicles than secure parking, move all additional vehicles to a safe location. Only allow someone you know and trust to move your vehicle.
  • Do not leave your car keys in your vehicle, and make sure to lock your doors.
  • If it's not possible to move your vehicle, moving blankets can provide some protection from damage.
  • Some policies may now have increased deductibles in the event of flooding or total loss. Check your policy language carefully and take appropriate action.
  • Prepare your car before the storm hits. Complete your regular car maintenance and check your tires, wiper blades, brakes, battery, and fluid levels. Gas up and pack your emergency kit.
  • Check with your insurance provider. Some insurers, such as Vault, offer Emergency Movement Coverage. Whenever there is a named storm or emergency, this coverage may provide assistance in moving vehicles out of a storm's path.


Prepare Your Family

  • Stock up on necessary supplies and prescriptions for family members and pets. For ideas, see the full hurricane prep checklist below.
  • Bring pets inside.
  • Identify the safest place in your home to ride out a storm and make sure everyone knows the location. 
  • Sign up for weather alerts for your phone. The American Red Cross Hurricane+ app is a great resource for monitoring storms, as is your local government alert system, The National Hurricane Center, and NOAA.


Put Together Your Hurricane Emergency Kit

After you’ve made your preparations and plan, put together an emergency kit. Gather your hurricane kit items before the storm season begins, as supplies run low fast when a hurricane is about to make landfall.

Your emergency kit should include items that can assist you or your family during or after a storm. Here is a hurricane supply list of items to include: 

  • Batteries 
  • Flashlights 
  • Battery-operated radio 
  • Masks and gloves 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • First aid kit, including bandages, gauze, disinfectant wipes, antibacterial ointment, etc. 
  • Garbage bags 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Non-electric can opener 
  • Extension cords 
  • Tarps 
  • Mosquito repellent 
  • Gas cans and/or propane 
  • Cash, in case of prolonged power outages 
  • Cell phone chargers and battery packs 
  • Rain gear 
  • Nonperishable food, such as canned food and beverages 
  • 1 gallon of water per day per person or pet 
  • Any necessities specific to your family, such as medications, diapers, wipes, formula, pet food, or litter 
  • Books, games, puzzles, and other fun activities for your family to stay entertained and calm


Family needs vary. So once you have identified the essentials, tailor your hurricane preparedness checklist to meet your unique needs. Make sure it’s accessible, and check the contents are stocked, charged, and ready before the season starts and any storm. 


Save This Checklist: Hurricane Preparedness Guide [Free PDF]


What to Do During a Hurricane

In the event of a mandatory or elective evacuation, you must have your plan in place early. 

A mandatory evacuation may happen due to a storm surge rather than the hurricane itself. Some of the most catastrophic surge events have happened during CAT 1 and CAT 2 hurricanes.  

Know where you need to go if you must evacuate. Signs are typically posted along designated evacuation routes. If you have pets you’re evacuating with, make sure where you are staying is pet-friendly. 

Before you leave, secure your home by anchoring loose objects or bringing them inside and locking your doors. Bring your important documents and emergency kit, fill your car with gas, and have cash available if ATMs are out of cash or out of power.

If you plan on riding out the storm, remember safety is priority number one: 

  • Do not go outside during the storm or when you are in the eye wall. 
  • Do not use the barbecue grill indoors or in your garage. 
  • Do not use a portable generator indoors or place it within 4 ft. of an open window. 
  • Do not stand near doors and windows during the storm. 
  • Do not use candles unless necessary; do not leave them unattended. 


Check with your local municipality for hurricane preparedness recommendations. Many have hurricane preparedness plans on their websites. You'll also find recommendations or rules for waste management, debris, power failures, emergency notifications, and road closures.


Post-Landfall Hurricane Safety Tips 

After a hurricane has passed, you still need to exercise caution. Some safety tips to keep in mind: 

  • Check outside for downed or dangling power lines and report immediately to your power company. Do not attempt to touch or move anything near a power line. 
  • Be mindful of overloading outlets or using outlets damaged during the storm. This can lead to fires or electrical shock. 
  • Only use a portable generator outside in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Keep an eye out for loose animals in your community. 
  • Avoid drinking the tap water until you are sure it is safe. 
  • Open cabinets with care, as items may have shifted and could fall off the shelves.
  • Throw away spoiled food. If you are unsure whether something has spoiled, throw it away. 


Hurricane Damage: What to Expect When Reporting a Claim

If you have property damage, notify your insurer and agent as soon as possible to begin the claim filing process. If you are a Vault customer, you can Report a Claim here.

When filing a claim with Vault, you'll first reach Vault Concierge who will take your First Notice of Loss (FNOL). They will then assign a claims adjuster to your case. You can expect to hear from your claims adjuster on average within 24 hours, although this may vary during widespread storm impact.

You can also expect your Vault team to be proactive before, during, and after the storm. Our team reaches out to customers in the storm's path to alert them of the expected impact. We follow up afterward to check on their safety and any damage.

If you do experience damage, you can take photos or videos before cleanup. You can also make temporary repairs, such as placing tarps on damaged roofs or boarding up broken windows, to avoid more damage. 

Hire only licensed, reputable repair companies, and be sure to keep receipts. If possible, keep damaged items so your claims adjuster can review them. 

To help with each of these steps for hurricane preparation, Vault has created a guide with straightforward checklists: 


Featured Resource:
How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Essential safety tips and emergency supply checklist for hurricane preparation.


While Vault believes the information provided in this article to be accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information providedVault is not responsible for, and does not adopt, endorse or approve any third-party webpages, or their content, that may be hyperlinked from this page. Nothing on this page alters any terms or conditions of an insurance policy and is not intended to be taken as legal, medical, or other professional advice. 



Vault offers high-net-worth personal insurance and customized solutions for affluent individuals and families. Our passionate team of experts are dedicated to delivering a luxury insurance experience and protecting our customers' legacies by minimizing devastating losses with risk management and data-driven technology.