Severe weather from Tropical Storm Isaac continues to affect the Gulf Coast region. As Mississippi and Louisiana residents recover from Isaac’s wrath, agents can use tips from Trusted Choice® to advise consumers to be cautious when returning to devastated property to recover losses. Flooding remains a major problem and risk in many areas.
- If you have evacuated, wait until authorities tell you it’s safe before returning home.
- Be alert for tornadoes, which are not unusual after a hurricane with certain weather conditions.
- Stay away from flood waters.
- Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns to examine the premises. Do not attempt to turn the lights on until you are sure it is safe to do so.
- Sniff for gas leaks. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and evacuate. If you have any concerns, have the gas system checked by a professional.
- Do not touch wires or outlets; Check for frayed cords and for cracked or broken prongs and plugs.
- Turn off the main electrical circuit switch. Be careful to stand on a dry surface and do not touch the metal handle of the switch box. Use a piece of heavy rubber, plastic or a piece of dry wood to open the metal door and throw the switch. Share your concerns with a licensed electrician.
- If your home has been flooded, check for animals that may have entered the property.
- If your car has been submerged, let it dry out thoroughly before trying to start it.
- Before you start cleaning up debris, prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. If you can, videotape or photograph the damage.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
- Clean up any flammable or poisonous materials that may have been spilled.
- Pump water gradually from flooded basements to avoid structural damage.
- Shovel out mud while it is still moist.
- Clean out heating and plumbing systems.
- Boil any water you use for drinking or food preparation until the water supply is declared safe.
- Throw out any food or medicine that has come in contact with flood waters.
- Take wooden furniture outside to dry, but keep it out of direct sun-light to prevent warping.
- Hold off on permanent repairs until you’ve received approval for reimbursement.
- Save remnants of damaged or destroyed property for your insurance company adjuster, and do not sign agreements with contractors or anyone else until you have a chance to meet with your insurance adjuster.
- Keep a written record of everyone you talk to about your insurance claim, including the date of the conversation and a summary of what was said.
- Keep all receipts.
- Your pre-disaster home inventory will be of great assistance to you at this point. After you’ve examined everything and determined the extent of damage, call your independent insurance agent as soon as possible to file a claim.
A 2010 national survey by Trusted Choice and the Big “I” found that most Americans are not fully prepared in the event of a natural disaster. Of all survey respondents, less than 22% said they felt they are fully prepared in case of a disaster. More than half of respondents (51%) admitted they are only somewhat prepared, and more than a fifth of households (22.7%) reported that they were not prepared at all.