The Hartford Financial Services Group has issued a bulletin warning home and business owners to take precautionary steps to prevent injury and minimize potential damage from Hurricane Isabel, which may threaten states along the east coast of the United States this week. (See article in today’s “International News)
Robert Wilkey, The Hartford’s assistant vice president of catastrophe claim management, advised those in Isabel’s projected path to take the following safety precautions:
–Store outdoor furniture or signage inside your home or business. When storm winds blow, these items become flying missiles;
— Close storm shutters over windows. If you do not have storm shutters, you may want to install plywood or place masking tape over windows to minimize flying glass;
— Secure sheds and carports. Sheds, carports, barns, and other unstable structures may be blown down in strong winds;
— Park your vehicle in a garage, if possible, rather than a carport. If no garage is available, park it away from trees whose falling branches may cause damage;
— Keep tree branches away from your home or business. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs;
— Be sure you have an emergency supply of food and water, as well as a first aid kit, a fully charged fire extinguisher, flashlights with fresh batteries, a portable radio with fresh batteries, necessary items for infants or disabled family members, warm clothing, a cellular phone, if available, and emergency phone numbers;
— Fill your car with gas;
— Heed evacuation notices from public authorities, and make certain you know the evacuation route. If evacuation is not possible or advised, go to an established shelter or a sheltered location;
— Secure important documents, such as insurance policies, in a safe, accessible place.
— Keep personal identification with you as it will be needed to receive a claim check for insurance coverage, if needed; and
— If you are evacuated, unplug all appliances before leaving your residence and shut off electricity, gas and water to your home or business to help mitigate damages. Lock windows and doors.
The announcement also indicated that if Isabel does come ashore in the U.S., and causes damage to a home or business, “The Hartford’s policyholders can call 1-800-243-5860, any time of the day or night.” It also said that it has put a “catastrophe claim team on standby in the southeastern coastal region to move quickly into the damaged areas to begin processing claims, if necessary. In the aftermath of the storm.”
Wilkey stressed that the insurer’s customers returning to their homes and businesses after the storm passes should observe the following guidelines to prevent further injuries and damage:
— Follow any safety directives issued by public authorities;
— Cover all damaged openings with heavy plastic until your insurance claim adjuster arrives;
— Do not touch any downed or loose wires;
— Do not attempt to remove branches or trees that have fallen on your home or business;
— If you smell gas, get out of the premises immediately; do not attempt to find or fix the problem; and
— Do not cook on a gas or charcoal grill inside your home.
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