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Hurricanes and Wildfires: How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

Fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes can cause massive amounts of damage and loss of life. While the disasters themselves can’t be eliminated, there are things you can do to prepare in case a wildfire or hurricane hits close to home. Preparation means preparing your home to avoid damage, taking your insurance documents and contact information with you, and having a solid emergency plan to keep you and your family safe.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for specific events.


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How do I prepare to leave when asked to evacuate during a wildfire?

Evacuating your home due to wildfires is never an easy decision. It can be heartbreaking to leave your home behind. But remember that your possessions are insured and monetary things can be replaced. It’s most important that you listen to the evacuation orders when they’re given because they are not given lightly. If you live in an area where wildfires are a major risk, you should make a wildfire emergency plan for your family to follow. This helps you to remain calm and will give you a checklist so that you don’t forget anything important.

You should have a supply kit and bags packed and ready to go as part of your emergency plan. You might include irreplaceable things, as well as food and first aid items. There are a number of things you can also do to help protect your home and neighbors during the event. Ready for Wildfire provides an excellent list of essential reminders.

How do I prepare to leave when asked to evacuate ahead of a hurricane?

Hurricane evacuation is very similar to wildfire evacuation. Be prepared and leave when you are asked to do so. You’ll want to have an emergency plan in place and have your bags packed and ready. You’ll also want to prepare your home and area to weather the storm. This might include boarding up windows, securing outside items, and moving outdoor furniture indoors. In both evacuation events, you’ll want to have your destination planned in advance. Remember, if there is an evacuation order, it will mean congested roads with other people trying to get out as well. Plan your route in advance. The National Hurricane Survival Initiative has excellent advice to help you prepare.

What are some things I should take with me before I evacuate?

Keep a checklist of things that you need to take with you as part of your safety plan. It’s too easy to forget even really obvious things when you’re rushing to get out of danger’s way. Some of the things you should include in your list:

How do I prepare for an insurance claim if I need to make one after a hurricane or wildfire?

Preparing for a possible insurance claim means having the right information on hand when you need it and documenting the “before” and “after” condition of your property and belongings. 

  • Documenting Pre-Disaster Property and Belongings: Make an inventory of your belongings and document with photos or video the interior and exterior of your home and the surrounding property. You may want to take any documentation with you to make sure you have it after the event. This might include your policy, any photos, or your inventory of belongings prior to the event. 
  • Documenting Post-Disaster Property, Damage, and Losses: When you do come home, take photos and videos of the damage, if possible. Don’t start cleaning up until after you’ve documented all of the damage to your property and belongings through photos, video, and written notes. You need to document your property and any damage thoroughly for your claim. This will give you evidence to present to your insurance company so that they can clearly see the extent of your losses.

You can make a free customized Request for Information About Insurance Denial document if your insurance claim is denied. If there are expenses or damage that won’t be covered by insurance, you may want to consider filing a FEMA claim if you qualify.

Preparation can help you get through even the most serious of disasters. We hope this information helps to get your started. If you have any legal questions, whether it’s about an insurance claim or a personal injury, we recommend that you contact a lawyer.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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