The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting 3 to 6 major hurricanes in the Atlantic region this year. And while Houstonians may often think of these risks in terms of structural damage, don’t forget that severe weather accompanying hurricanes can also affect some of our most common and easily damaged possessions—electronics.
From flat-screen TVs to iPads, we use electronics for everything from entertainment to work, and we often store some of our most important information and precious memories in these devices. The loss of these machines can be financially—and emotionally—difficult, so here are some tips to make sure that your electronics are protected both before and after a potentially-damaging storm:
1. Catalog your possessions. Having an inventory of your electronics may help with the claims process if disaster were to strike; it can also help verify any losses for your tax return. To make an inventory, list each item, ensuring that you have pictures along with serial numbers and copies of receipts where possible. Whenever you get a new gadget, make sure you add it, along with its receipt, serial number and picture, to your inventory list. And, of course, make sure you protect this information in a place that will remain safe; a safe deposit box or file back-up tool, for instance. The next step is contacting your insurance agent to help you with choosing the right coverage.
It’s important to ensure that you have appropriate personal property coverage limits on your homeowners or renters policy to help cover your electronics in the event that they’re lost or damaged in a storm. An up-to-date inventory of your valuables, and proper insurance levels for them, is a good way to protect against a loss.
2. Protect them from power surges. Houston has been called the “Lightning Capital of Texas” by Texas A&M and NOAA researchers. Hurricanes can spawn lightning and thunderstorms. Power strips and surge protectors are a popular way to plug in electronics to conserve energy and cut down on unruly cords, but to truly keep your electronics safe from surges, consider completely unplugging the devices from the wall whenever severe weather is near.
3. Back up important files. If your files are not saved properly, the loss of your electronics could mean that these files are gone forever. Thankfully, innovation and competition have led to multiple options for electronic storage, so you can choose the safest and most convenient option to back up copies of financial documents, precious photo albums, videos and music.
4. Make an action plan. Hurricanes—and the severe weather they produce—can be unpredictable. Therefore you should plan ahead for the safety of you, your loved ones and your precious possessions. The Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HCOEM) offers a checklist to help with your plans for before, during and after a storm. Some important tips regarding electronics include making an inventory and storing all important documents in a waterproof container in a secure location.
When it comes to your valuable electronics, what will you quickly take and what will you leave behind? Are indispensable devices easily accessible in your home so that you can take them with you in a hurry? Answer these questions in advance so you’re ready.
Disasters sometimes strike without warning, so proper planning is essential for protection in the event of a hurricane and easing recovery afterward. This forethought is important for our electronics and the precious memories and important business information we often store on them.
Allstate Agent Bill Balke is based in Houston. Address: 815 Walker St. # 150, Houston, TX 77002. Phone: (713) 227-1567