Getting Ready for the Storms

Article by Heather Chilvers, Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty

With Hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic and already causing much damage through the Caribbean and Texas, Heather Chilvers from Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty gives us a timely reminder of what you should do before, during and after the storm in order to make sure you and your property are safe.

Peak storm season is here and looking at the weather it’s not hard to see why. Warmer waters and cooler breezes make for some interesting weather patterns. After all we narrowly missed Gert in mid August. Whether we get hit full on by a tropical storm or hurricane, or just get the remnants, dragging rough seas and a lot of rain with them, it is always wise to be prepared.

Be sure that your home is insured for storms. In Bermuda typically property insurance covers storms. However, there is the option not to include it in your policy. Storms are one of the most common reasons for property damage, so be sure to check your policy has storm insurance included, and that it has paid up to date. There are many sources of advice for storm preparation, and safety during the worst moments. But here is a few more great tips:

  • Be sure that you have an adequate supply of drinking water available, before the storm. Drinking water check!
  • Stay tuned to the local radio stations for current information, by checking your battery operated radio. Working Batteries check!
  • Help injured or trapped persons, and provide first aid wherever it is appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help if you have a land line, cell phone service is likely to be down. If you know your neighbours well find out which ones still have land lines.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and if they have not already been reported, inform the power company, police, or fire department.
  • Open windows and doors after the storm to ventilate and dry your home. It is getting better, but as most of our power lines are above ground it can take several days for power to be restored in many areas.
  • If power is lost, unplug major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored. Power surge can damage electronic devices and major appliances beyond repair.
  • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage. This is a no-brainer if the power has been out for days. Try not to panic buy before the storm and use up all the items that you already have in your refrigerator and cupboards.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents (if appropriate) for insurance claims. Camera or phone charged check!
  • In order not to block landlines, use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Inspect your roof, but please wait until it is dry (or it will be slippery) and have a responsible person assisting you with the ladder etc. You are looking for cracks that may have appeared due to the vibration caused by high winds, and broken or damaged roof slate. Make a note, so you know where to look when it comes time to do repairs, be aware that these cracks can occur beneath the paintwork and can take up to 3 months to be noticeable.
  • Turn your gas at the outside main valve off before the storm, afterwards when you turn it back on if you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly turn off the gas at the outside main valve, because it means you have a leak. If you can, call the gas company from a neighbor's home (not yours).
  • If you have a gas stove it should still work after the storm. However, the pilot light will not, so have a BBQ lighter at the ready. Matches, candles and lighters and torches check!
  • One final thought. A lot of people own gasoline-powered generators to help them during long outages. Please run your generator outside. Generators give off poisonous fumes. Also be aware that they can be very noisy, please be thoughtful about your neighbours and try and only run it during the day. You may want to make sure your generator is firmly fixed in place they have been known to develop ‘legs!’.
  • Normally people are not evacuated in Bermuda, as it would not be practical and we are generally all ‘storm savvy”. However, if you have to leave the house afterwards the roads are likely going to be treacherous and full of fallen trees or debris  (as there were after Fay and Gonzalo in 2014). So do not go anywhere unless you absolutely have to. If you can, walk there, even better if you are physically fit and able go out and offer to assist with clearing the roads, or take refreshments to those who are working.

For my avid gardeners: With regards to your treasured plants and roses. Take a few cuttings for rooting if you have a favourite or unusual species, in case they are damaged beyond repair. Plants will look rather storm swept and ‘burnt’ due to the salt content in the rain and wind. As soon as possible hose them off with fresh water and cut off any injured stems or branches. Bermuda plants are hardy, chances are they will soon look as good as new.

Sometimes a storm reminds us that the responsibility of a large property can be overwhelming, particularly if you are getting up in age or are on your own. If this is the case, perhaps it is time to think about buying somewhere smaller and more manageable. Condos are ideal, as you can just shut the shutters and open back up when the storm is over, and there will be little or no clean up. Our sales market is still very active give me a call to discuss your options.

Heather Chilvers is amongst Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s Leading Sales Representatives. She has been working in Real Estate for 28 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332 1793. All questions will be treated confidentially.

Please go on to Heather’s Facebook page – Ask Heather Chilvers Real Estate – to like and share this article.

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