Missouri gets hit by tropical storms, on average, every two to three years, but these aren't the only perils the state is prone to. When disaster strikes, it's important to have both the right safety checklist and the right protection on hand. While an independent insurance agent in Missouri can help you find the proper coverage against many common disasters in your state, we'll start by providing a checklist of how to prepare for them.
How to Prep for Missouri’s Top Five Most Common Issues
Missouri, like anywhere else, sees its share of common disasters, but the state is especially prone to severe storms and burglary. With Missouri's unique landlocked location in the middle of the country, it's particularly vulnerable to many types of natural disasters thanks to several different climates within the state.
If you know ahead of time how to handle a specific disaster, you can switch into action mode quickly. This can help you and your family return to normal life more easily. An independent insurance agent in Missouri can help you find the right coverage for each type of common local disaster.
How to Be Safe during Severe Storms and Lightning Damage
Severe storms and lightning can damage property and cause injury or even death if you're not careful. Understanding these storms and how to stay safe before and during a thunderstorm can be tremendously helpful.
Quick facts about thunderstorms:
- They can be accompanied by winds reaching speeds of 50 MPH or greater.
- They can be accompanied by hail.
- They can lead to flash flooding and tornadoes.
Staying safe before and during a thunderstorm can help streamline the recovery process after a severe storm passes.
How to stay safe before a thunderstorm hits:
- Know your risk: Many places are vulnerable to thunderstorms on a year-round basis. Become familiar with your specific area's risk for thunderstorms, even off-season, so you can anticipate these disasters before they strike.
- Make a plan: Make sure to educate your family on an emergency plan if a storm hits your area. Have designated parts of the home prepared to shelter in during episodes of severe wind and lightning so you can stay away from windows and doors.
- Protect your home: Trim trees and shrubs away from your home so they don't cause property damage during heavy wind gusts. Also, consider getting a lightning protection system, which can ground the current after a strike, directing it away from your property and family.
- Double-check your insurance: Make sure to review your homeowners insurance with your independent insurance agent. They'll make sure you have a level of property coverage against lightning damage and the possible resulting fires that makes you feel comfortable.
How to stay safe during a thunderstorm:
- Go inside: Remember the saying, "when thunder roars, go indoors." Seek shelter immediately at the first sign of a thunderstorm.
- Follow alerts and warnings: Keep updated on the storm's position and when it's expected to pass. Also, stay alert and heed your local government's orders to evacuate if necessary.
- Avoid electronics and running water: Don't use electronics that are plugged in, or run water during a thunderstorm to reduce your risk of electrical shock from lightning strikes.
- Turn around, don’t drown: If you must drive during a thunderstorm, turn around if you see standing water on the road. You can't judge how deep a puddle is, so it's a safer practice to avoid it entirely.
How to Be Safe during Flooding and Water Damage
Floods are another common disaster Missouri faces, and they're extremely important to anticipate and prepare for. Without the proper preparation, floods can destroy homes, vehicles, and even lives.
- Develop slowly or come on quickly (i.e., flash floods hit with no warning)
- Result from heavy rainfall, melting snow, tropical storms, or overflowed dams, etc.
- Lead to power outages, disrupt traffic and roadways, cause landslides, and destroy property
Follow these important tips to keep your property, yourself, and your family safe before and during a flood.
How to stay safe before a flood:
- Know your risk: Just as you should know your specific area's risks of thunderstorms, it's important to know your risk for flood disasters as well.
- Have a plan: Develop an emergency plan for you and your family including creating and rehearsing evacuation routes, gathering essential supplies, buying a first aid kit, etc.
- Get flood insurance: Homeowners insurance won't protect your property from water damage stemming from natural sources like heavy rainfall. Make sure to get equipped with a flood insurance policy to protect your home before a flood ever occurs.
- Waterproof your valuables: Be sure to keep important documents and other valuables like jewelry above ground, preferably in waterproof safes, or other secure containers.
How to stay safe during a flood:
- Follow emergency orders: Listen to the Emergency Alert Service (EAS) or NOAA Weather Radio for local updates on a flood's progression. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Don't walk, swim, or drive in floodwaters: Avoid entering floodwaters if at all possible because they could contain bacteria or pests like snakes, and could also lead to drowning.
- Stay away from bridges: Try to avoid bridges if you must drive or evacuate.
- Find high ground: Move to the highest area possible to reduce your risk of being swept away by powerful currents.
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How to Be Safe during Severe Ice Storms and Freezing
Winter storms, including severe ice storms, can come on quickly and lead to traffic accidents, ruined equipment, and more. But having the right plan in place beforehand can spare you unnecessary complications.
A few possible winter storm-related disasters:
- Hypothermia and frostbite
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Heart attacks from overexertion (e.g., while shoveling)
- Car accidents and frozen roadways
- Extreme cold temperatures, freezing rain, snow and ice combinations, and strong winds
Follow these important tips to keep your property, yourself, and your family safe before and during winter storms.
How to stay safe before a winter storm:
- Know the types of warnings provided by the EAS: Winter storm warnings are given when winter weather is occurring or is soon to occur, and are typically issued within 12 to 24 hours before the event's expected start time. Winter storm watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the event's expected start time and are meant to announce a possible storm like a blizzard. Winter weather advisories are issued when there's already an accumulation of snow, ice, etc., which could lead to dangerous situations.
- Prepare your home: Get your home equipped with insulation against cold weather, update any appliance caulking, and winterize your pipes. Also create a kit of emergency supplies like nonperishable food, bottled water, batteries, extra blankets, etc., to have on hand if the power goes out.
- Create a car kit: You'll also want an emergency kit to store in your car in case you need to evacuate or get trapped on the road during a blizzard or other winter storm. This kit should include flashlights, blankets, extra warm clothing, jumper cables, etc.
- Double-check your insurance: Your homeowners insurance provides coverage for damage to your home from blizzards and other winter storms. You'll also want to make sure you have comprehensive car insurance to protect your vehicle against winter storm damage.
How to stay safe during a winter storm:
- Stay off roads if possible: If you can avoid driving during a winter storm, do so. But if you're out on the road and get trapped in your car, stay inside the vehicle to keep warm and protected from the elements.
- Stay indoors: Become familiar with the signs of frostbite and hypothermia if you have to venture outside. Stay indoors as much as possible, but if you do go out, make sure to layer up with warm clothing.
- Avoid overexertion: Be careful not to overexert yourself when shoveling snow or walking on precipitation. Overexertion can lead to heart attacks and other health complications.
How to Be Safe During a Burglary and Other Property Claims
Many folks aren't aware that with a few simple steps, you can make your home much less attractive to criminals and greatly reduce your risk of burglary and other property crimes.
How to prepare your home against burglaries:
- Install security devices: Equip your home with security devices, burglar alarms, motion-sensor lights, and other devices that can deter burglars. Keeping signs on your property that you have this equipment can also reduce your risk of a break-in.
- Trim the bushes: Though you may sacrifice a bit of privacy, keeping the bushes in front of your home trimmed back and away from your windows can help prevent break-ins. When burglars don't see an easy way to hide from sight while they enter your home, they're less likely to try.
- Keep valuables out of sight: Keep valuables and expensive property like televisions, jewelry collections, artwork, etc. away from windows as much as possible so they won't be visible or tempting to criminals passing by.
- Create a security routine: Work with your family to establish a routine to keep windows and doors closed and locked at all times.
- Establish a plan for going out of town: Make sure it's not obvious to others if you and your family go out of town for a few days. You can work with your neighbors and ask them to mow the lawn for you, gather mail and garbage cans, etc., to help give the appearance that someone is home at all times.
How to Be Safe during Tornadoes
Tornadoes are windstorms composed of rotating air columns that move from the sky to the ground in a cylindrical shape. They often accompany thunderstorms and can have wind speeds of over 200 MPH. These disasters can easily turn cars over, destroy homes and other buildings, and toss huge, heavy objects across far distances.
How to stay safe before a tornado:
- Stay updated: Listen along with EAS and NOAA radio to keep updated on a storm's position to know when to evacuate or seek shelter. Become familiar with local safety shelters beforehand in case of emergency evacuation orders.
- Familiarize yourself with tornadoes: Signs of a tornado include a funnel-shaped cloud made up of rotating wind columns, as well as a swirling cloud of debris.
- Consider your pets: Since pets are a part of the family, be sure to include them in your family's emergency plan by putting some of their food and other essential items in your emergency kit.
- Gather supplies: Create an emergency kit for your home and car the same way you would for any other type of natural disaster, by including food, water, blankets, flashlights, etc.
- Double-check your insurance: Review your homeowners insurance, condo insurance, or renters insurance with your independent insurance agent to ensure you'll be covered if a tornado hits.
How to stay safe during a tornado:
- Get to a safe place: If possible, shelter indoors, below ground, away from doors and windows.
- Stay connected: Continue to follow local updates about the storm and listen for possible evacuation instructions.
- Cover your head or neck: If necessary, crouch and cover your head and neck with your arms or other objects like heavy blankets to help protect you from tornado winds and debris.
- Never try to outrun a tornado: If you're driving and a tornado approaches, never attempt to outrun the storm, because it can move much faster than you can. Drive away from the storm's path if you're a safe distance away, but if not, keep yourself covered with coats or blankets in your vehicle.
How Insurance Can Help You Prepare for Common Disasters
The common element in preparing for all of these disasters in Missouri is to have the right insurance in place ahead of time. Having the right insurance coverage before disaster strikes can help you recover from financial losses, complete property repairs, reestablish safety within your home, get treatments for any injuries, and even stay in a temporary location if you can't live at home while repairs are taking place.
Home insurance protects your home and property from unexpected disasters by:
- Reimbursing for property damage: Your home's dwelling and contents coverage reimburses you for property damage caused by many disasters including blizzards, wind, fire, and more.
- Providing additional living expenses coverage: This coverage pays for additional costs if you stay elsewhere, like a hotel, while your home is unlivable and undergoing repairs.
- Liability protection: If a guest or someone else gets injured or has their property damaged at your home or by you during a disaster, the liability coverage provided by home insurance can reimburse you for lawsuit costs if they press charges.
Car insurance protects your vehicle from unexpected disasters by:
- Reimbursing for car repairs: If you have comprehensive coverage on your car, you'll be covered against vehicle damage caused by storms, break-ins, large animals, and more.
- Reimbursement for rental cars: If your car insurance includes rental car reimbursement coverage, you'll be set up with a rental car while awaiting repairs to your vehicle after a covered disaster like a storm.
- Reimbursing for injuries: If you have personal injury protection coverage and end up causing a collision during a storm, this insurance will reimburse you for the treatment of any injuries to you and your passengers.
It's critical to know the precautionary steps to take before any of Missouri's most common disasters. If you need additional safety tips, be sure to check out ready.gov for more information. Also, be sure to make a call to your independent insurance agent in Missouri to review your coverages long before disaster strikes. They can help you add additional coverage or extra policies if you're in need.
Why Choose a Missouri Independent Insurance Agent?
Missouri independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.
Missouri independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance, car insurance, etc., coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin
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