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Protect Your Home, Belongings From Hurricane Isabel

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Hurricanes threaten more than just the coast. Many found that out with Fran and Floyd. Five on Your Side has some last-minute checks people can do to make sure that they are protected.

Insurance is about your only protection from hurricanes, but review your policies. After Fran and Floyd, many people who thought they were fully covered were not.

For example, most standard policies cover only the actual value of personal property, not what it costs to replace it. Unless you have a separate flood policy, only damage from falling water or rain is covered. Rising water or flooding is not. It is also important to know that a flood policy does not take effect until 30 days after you buy it, so it is too late to get it for Isabel.

Renters should also keep in mind that their landlord's insurance only covers the building, but renters are responsible for the contents.

After an emergency, it is almost impossible to remember what property you have in your home. You should grab a camera now and take pictures of everything in your home. Afterward, get a shot of the front page of a newspaper and focus on the date, so there is no dispute as to when the pictures were taken.

You should then put the disc or tape in a plastic bag and store it in a safe place. You should also do the same with important documents, including wills, insurance policies and birth certificates.

You should also make a quick check of your home's exterior. You should clear clogged drain gutters and downspouts and look for loose shingles. Check for any weak or dead tree branches that you could reasonably trim at this point. That will keep them from crashing onto your house or car if we get high winds.

Also, put away deck furniture, grills and potted plants -- anything that could fly through a window, or become floating debris.

You should also remember to get cash. When the power goes out, so do ATMs. The same is true with gas pumps, so you should fill them up now.

If you need to leave your home, shut off water and gas valves. In that case if a pipe breaks, you will not come home to a leak.


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