Top 6 Legal Tips on How to Prepare for a Hurricane
How to prepare for a hurricane? This question soars in popularity every year just before the Atlantic Hurricane Season is set to kick off. The cyclone brings fierce storm surges, high winds, and intense flooding that covers the coasts of the United States. Destructive tropical storms result in damaged property and human casualties.
Being properly prepared for severe weather, storm shutters, and other emergencies can save lives and protect real estate and other assets. Preliminary planning can reduce the legal burden on individuals and families when a natural catastrophe happens so that they’re able to receive assistance and/or disaster relief. US Legal Forms offers Essential Legal Life Document Packages to ensure that your legal documents are in order in case of emergency or natural disaster.
In this blog, we’ll explain how to be legally prepared for the Hurricane Season to ensure you, your family, and your business can minimize the impacts of a storm.
What is Hurricane Season?
A hurricane is a rotating low-pressure weather system formed by tropical or subtropical waters which lead to thunderstorms but no fronts. Hurricanes can reach up to 74 mph for Category 1, ranging from 1 to 5.
Not all storms result in landfall, but those that do, lead to billions in damage and can cause even more severe flooding. As such, the damage and impacts caused by Katrina — a hurricane of enormous intensity, totaled $89.7 billion in damages in 2021.
In 2021, the climate disasters that took place in the United States resulted in losses exceeding $145 billion and 724 deaths.
In 2022, meteorologists predict that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be above-normal with 19 named storms, four of which will be major hurricanes.
When Does Hurricane Season Start?
The Atlantic Hurricane Season formally runs from June 1 through November 30. This accounts for 97% of all hurricanes and storms in a given year.
And covers the following areas:
- Atlantic Ocean
- The Gulf of Mexico
- The Caribbean Sea
Over the past few years, hurricane forecasting has significantly improved, enabling people who live near or along coastlines to get more accurate information, and evacuate before a storm hits.
Delivering this information involves a number of organizations that work to keep hurricane awareness at a high level while minimizing all possible risks and losses for both government and citizens. These organizations are:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- National Hurricane Center
- Hurricane Hunter Navy
- Air Force
- Environmental Science Services Administration
Hurricane Preparedness Week, held from May 1-7, is the best time for all residents to ensure their possessions are protected, insurance coverage is valid, and property is resilient.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm Surge
Hurricanes take thousands of lives and cause billions of dollars in damage. The right action plan is needed to keep you safe and minimize the impacts of a storm. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the 2022 Hurricane Season:
1. Plan an evacuation route ahead of time
Make sure you are able to follow up on instructions from the local government. Make a route to an out-of-town shelter, friend’s or family’s home, and keep their contacts at hand. Create several possible routes to the places where you may be headed. Ensure that your hurricane preparedness plan includes your pets. Contact organizations that may host your pets and/or get them evacuated.
2. Get non-perishable emergency supplies ready
Ensure you are able to hold up for at least two weeks and pack everything you may need in an emergency kit. Your emergency supplies should include:
- power sources
- a gas tank for fuel supply
- extra batteries
- hygiene items
- important documents
- spare clothing
If you have a car, stock these items in your car beforehand.
3. Take steps to protect your home and make it safer
Cut weak branches and trees and bring in all the furniture from outside your house. Ensure you have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector that works properly. Cover up windows and doors outside to protect you from pieces of shattered glass and strong wind. Make sure to fill any containers you have with water and reduce your refrigerator and freezer temperature to the coldest temperatures.
4. Follow the news to stay informed
Pay attention to any instructions and alerts from the local government and familiarize yourself with the key terms There are three sets of terms used by the National Weather Service during alerts — hurricane advisory, hurricane watch, and hurricane warning.
- Hurricane advisory is announced when weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
- Hurricane watch is announced 48 hours before the winds of a tropical storm force (sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour). This means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible in your area.
- Hurricane warning is announced 36 hours before a tropical storm force and means hurricane-force winds are already expected in a stated area.
5. Protect your important documents and records
To protect your most important documents and records, place them in secure, waterproof containers and keep them at hand. These documents include:
- Financial and insurance documents
- Medical records and educational documents
- Legal documents, birth certificates, and passports
6. Take care of your health
Take special care of your physical and mental health before and during the hurricane season. You have to be healthy to stay focused and handle all possible stress. Make your meals well-balanced, exercise regularly, get good sleep, and take vitamins.
- Use a check-list, including the most important things you’ll need, and keep it in plain view
- If your capabilities are limited, cooperate with neighbors to create a community and share resources and responsibilities
5 Steps to Get Ready for a Hurricane with Legal Documents
Let’s take a dive deep into how to be legally prepared for a hurricane season by keeping the right insurance policies at hand to help you cover any damage inflicted by a storm.
Follow these 5 simple steps to satisfy the standard legal requirements of hurricane season preparation:
The first thing you need to do is to check your current home, car, and life insurance policies to be aware of the coverage and its limits. In the case of life insurance, make sure there is information about your beneficiaries and that it is still valid. When it comes to property, the key point is to understand what type of damage could be covered and whether you have full coverage in events of disaster caused by nature.
Keep all your legal documents organized in one place, including birth certificates, contracts, deeds, medical records, social security cards, driver’s license copies, ID photos, etc. Consider taking photos and keeping receipts of major assets at your property such as furniture, electronics, and appliances in case you will be urged to file an insurance claim.
Be ready for anything the future may hold. Preparation can help you get through the most serious disasters with minimal loss and consequences. Consider drafting a will, living will, and power of attorney forms. These documents are issued by either a legal attorney in your local area or by individuals on their own by filling in and applying state-specific documents online.
Review the tax relief list of disaster situations provided by the IRS on its website. Find the most recent tax relief provisions for US taxpayers affected by disaster situations. The IRS provides a natural disasters list, so you just need to choose a year and a disaster event to apply for your tax relief. If you paid taxes in the current tax year, you can elect to deduct your loss on an IRS Form for the prior year instead of waiting to file your current year’s return. If you’re a business owner, download Disaster Recovery package to apply for a disaster coverage.
You can get tax relief in disaster situations as well as individual and public assistance under major disaster declarations. The relief assistance covers the following:
- Individuals and Households Program
- Crisis Counseling Program
- Disaster Case Management
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance
- Disaster Legal Services
- Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Bottom Line
A natural disaster, such as a hurricane or storm, causes massive damage and loss of human life. Every year from late May until the end of November, coastal residents can’t avoid these disasters, but they can evacuate before a hurricane hits. Preparation includes getting your legal papers organized in a safe place, having valid insurance policies, and of course securing yourself, your loved ones, and your property.
Prepare your legal documents with the US Legal Forms Life Resource Center!