In less than six weeks' time, hurricane season will be here. If you do not live in a coastal town, you may feel that hurricane season is of no interest to you, but let's not forget that hurricanes are mobile and cover a lot of ground in many parts of the country. There are a few other things we need not forget as well and a few myths in need of debunking. When it comes to a hurricane, preparedness is essential, but knowing the truth can save you as well.
The 1st myth is possibly the most deadly, and it is that hurricanes only affect coastal areas. While coastal areas do take a beating and the news media focuses a lot of effort there, much more of the country can be and is affected by hurricanes. A hurricane is capable of moving inland and dumping copious quantities of rain that can cause major flooding. Let's not forget that hurricanes can sometimes stop moving and stall out, regardless of location, and unleash not only heavy rain and strong winds but also tornadoes.
The 2nd myth is that preparation is pointless because a hurricane cannot be stopped. In a lot of cases, hurricanes will damage homes quite heavily and some will be a total loss. However, taking precautions to protect your home can be the line between total loss and a salvageable dwelling. Boarding up windows, securing items that can become projectiles in heavy winds, and cutting down dead trees that may fall are all small steps towards preserving what is yours.
The 3rd myth is that you can rely on your homeowner's insurance to fix everything no matter what. This myth actually goes hand in hand with the one above and is another reason to prepare and secure your home. While homeowner's insurance can be helpful, it all depends on the type of coverage you have and what your deductibles are. In areas where hurricanes are present, you can expect high deductibles and your coverage may be dropped at any time. You also have to remember that it is never as simple as just saying a hurricane damaged your home and getting a check. Blame for damage comes in many different forms (straight line winds, wind driven rain, flooding, etc.) and you will need coverage for all of those things.
The 4th myth is that you are safer at high elevations, such as the upper floors of a condo or apartment building. This is not true because wind speeds increase with elevation, so the higher you are the windier it will be, which can result in blown out windows. In the event that flooding is present, the movement of the water can take out the support system of the building, causing it to topple. If you live at a high elevation, get out.
The 5th myth is that storm surge is the most dangerous and deadly part of a hurricane. Storm surge occurs when water is pushed onto land and it can do major destruction and cause a lot of death for those who choose to stay in its path. However, more people have been statistically shown to die in flash floods and inland flooding due to overflowing rivers, streams, creeks, etc.
The 6th myth is that sinks and bathtubs should be filled for a source of drinking water. Yes, you should fill those, but use that water for flushing your toilet and do not drink it. Drink bottled water instead due to the bacteria/cleaning chemicals lurking in sinks and bathtubs.
The 7th myth is that cracking windows will equalize pressure during hurricanes and tornadoes and keep your house safe. This is not true and your best chance is to keep the wind out by boarding up. There is no guarantee, but the odds do improve, and you will have more protection against flying debris.
The 8th myth is that a tied down mobile home is a safe place to weather a storm. No mobile home is ever safe in a hurricane or tornado. You may get lucky, but it is a real temptation of fate to even risk it, so get out and seek a sturdier shelter.
The 9th myth is that taping windows will prevent breakage. This is not true as tape is simply not strong enough to withstand the impact of flying debris. The best case scenario is that the tape will keep broken glass somewhat together, but even that is not very likely, plus you will have a big chore removing tape after the storm has passed.
The 10th myth is that it will never happen to you. A lot of us are guilty of this type of thinking, and we wind up being proven wrong. I distinctly remember asking, "How bad can it really be?" The answer in my case was that it can be pretty bad-house lost, car almost lost, barn lost, shed shifted on its foundation...you get the point. It can happen to you. Hopefully it won't, but it absolutely can.
Start thinking about your hurricane plans now. Severe weather waits for no man. You may get some warning that a hurricane is coming, but waiting until the last minute to prepare only means you will have to fight harder to get what you need. Do it now or do it soon, and watch everyone else scramble at the last minute instead of scrambling with them.