If you’re a resident in a hurricane-prone area, you may know how to prepare your home ahead of a storm. But do you know that disaster preparedness should also extend to protecting your vehicles? Agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Hurricane Center and the American Red Cross unanimously agree that having a comprehensive storm safety plan is always better than being caught off-guard.
In order be as safe as possible during hurricane conditions, Ready.gov recommends staying informed of a tropical storm’s progress, following the recommendations of local and federal officials, and knowing emergency evacuation routes.
If you’re at home and find yourself in the path of an oncoming hurricane, the following tips can help you protect your car.
It can be prudent to have proof of your car’s condition before disaster strikes, for personal and possible insurance purposes. So, you may want to consider taking pictures of your car’s interior and exterior as you make your hurricane preparations, Consumer Reports suggests.
Store copies of your car’s registration and insurance documentation in a safe place like a zip-top plastic bag, Consumer Reports recommends. Make additional copies of this documentation, as well as your car key/fob, and distribute them to all licensed drivers in your family. That way, in the unfortunate event that you are separated from your vehicle or family, your vehicle is ready for use.
Don’t forget, as the Red Cross advises, always have two emergency meeting areas: one close by your home and another further away in case of an evacuation.
Before a hurricane hits, be sure to fuel up your car, the Red Cross suggests. An important part of disaster preparedness is having a plan to get help after dangerous weather subsides. With a full tank of gas, you’ll be more likely to get to where you need to go without having to make a stop for fuel.
Parking your car safely before a hurricane or a tropical storm typically involves protecting it from high winds and water. Consumer Reports recommends parking your car in a garage if possible. If you don’t have a garage, consider parking your car close to a building, which can offer at least partial protection from high winds. Avoid parking under trees or power lines that can be blown down, says Consumer Reports.
Once the storm is over and all members of your family are accounted for, check over your car thoroughly to evaluate its condition. If there’s damage, you can take pictures of the car and compare the “before” and “after” version, as advised above
And if you have to drive after a tropical storm or a hurricane has swept across your neighborhood, consider this advice from Ready.gov:
Experiencing a hurricane can be a difficult ordeal — but planning ahead can help give you some peace of mind about your car so you can focus on staying safe.
Originally published July 2013.