How to Be Prepared for The Next Winter Storm in North Carolina

With the coming of winter comes holidays, quality time with family, and a brand new start with a brand new year. But winter months also bring winter weather, which sometimes means that you're in for more than just a dreamy white Christmas.

In North Carolina, it does seem odd to have to worry or prepare for a snow or ice storm. You are in the south, after all. However, in February of 2014, many parts of North Carolina suffered from the worst storm since Hurricane Hugo (1989), which caused 100,000 to lose power, and $360 million dollars in damages. If you were here to experience it, you likely haven't forgotten the rare condition of your surroundings. Wilmington, North Carolina, from my own experience, was like nothing I have ever seen before. As much as I prefer the warmth, I did realize that winter storms bring a still beauty that other storms do not - as you can see in the photo above. But, at the same time, I realized that it's way more dangerous than it looks. Being from the northeast, two, three, four feet of snow was the norm and everyone would go about their day as if there wasn't snow on the ground at all. Of course, that's the advantage of having snow plows. But there's something very different about plain-old snow and pure ice. For one, it's extremely difficult to drive on, no matter what your vehicle is equipped to do. Secondly, it's much heavier and melts slower, which causes more damage and power outages. So, its crucial to be prepared for the worst so you aren't worrying about excessive damages during freezing cold weather.

Protecting Your Home From A Winter Storm

So how do you help prepare your home and your family for the worst this winter? If you have insurance on your home or business property, you can breathe easy knowing that most damages will be covered under your policy.

Fallen Trees

The insured building, in most cases, would be covered against any damages caused by fallen tree limbs from snow, ice, or wind, as well as the removal of any debris that comes with the result of that damage, including the tree limb itself. It does not, however, cover the costs of any damages that occur outside of the insured structure, such as other plants and trees.

Ice and Snow

In the event the weight of ice or snow causes collapse on the roof of your home, or a leak, the damage to repair the resulted damages to the roof and interior would be covered by your home or renters insurance. However, if your roofing had been improperly installed or needed repair prior to the storm, the extra damage caused to the roof would not be covered, but interior damage typically would.

Plumbing System

If you own a home that is unoccupied or vacant for extended periods of time, it's important to make sure that your water pipes are not susceptible to freezing or bursting during a winter storm. If a pipe bursts or freezes while you are occupying your home, your insurance will typically cover those repairs.

If any damages caused by the storm make your home temporarily inhabitable, your home or renters insurance should cover the cost of temporary hotel stays and other expenses such as cost of meals during the time that damage is being repaired. Check with your insurance agent to see if your policy covers these costs.

How To Prepare Your Home

Whether you're area is expecting a storm or not, keeping your home well-maintained will help lessen damage. Basic upkeep such as clearing rain gutters, repairing roof leaks, and cutting away any tree branches that could fall onto your house are good ways to help winterize your home. In case a pipe bursts, make sure you know how to shut off and water valves. In the event you are forced to leave your home due to a winter storm, cutting off the main water sources could help prevent serious water damage while the house is unoccupied.

Also, it is a good idea to take photos around the home before the storm hits so you can show damages more clearly if they do occur.

Prepare Your Family

If a winter storm does hit and you experience a power outage, there are a few precautions you can take to make sure that you and your family are as comfortable as possible during the blackout. Here are a few:

  • Make sure your home has a sufficient number of functioning flashlights with corresponding batteries for back up
  • have a battery-powered radio on hand in the event you don't have access to television so you can keep up with any updates in relation to the outages or be aware of any evacuation orders for your area
  • Have a car charger or battery pack(s) to keep your cell phone alive - of course, to make sure you don't lose contact with anyone in case of an emergency, but also because you know that if the power is out and there's nothing else to do, you're going to have to text everyone how cold it is, or that you have no power, or post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram... and you're going to make sure your phone can get recharged.
  • Make sure that your car has at least half a tank of gas in it! In the event that you do have to evacuate your home, or you need to take a trip to the emergency room (hopefully not), neither are a time where you want to sit at the gas station. Also, many pumps are controlled electronically, so if they lose power, you may be out of luck.
  • If you are expecting an outage, you can turn your freezer and refrigerator settings down to their lowest temperatures to make sure your food stays cool for longer. If the outage, does indeed, happen, it's important to keep the doors closed as much as possible to preserve the cooler temperatures inside the fridge. You can also put several containers of water inside of the fridge to keep the temperature down as well.
  • If you do still have power, unplug all appliances (such as your microwave, toasters, etc.) and only keep one light switched on since there is a higher risk of power surges to your appliances during this time.
  • If you do own a generator, make sure that you operate it safely. Do not run it inside of your home or garage and do not connect it to your home's wiring.

Check out this article to see the Best Gadgets for Emergency Preparedness.

Click here to see the outlook in North Carolina this winter.

NC Coastal Home Insurance works harder to protect your most precious assets and serves all of North Carolina. We are dedicated to making the insurance shopping experience as simple and informative as possible. We are partnered with leading insurance companies and organizations to provide you with the best possible coverage, options, and rates. We promise you'll love shopping with us. For more information regarding preparing your home or family from winter storms, contact a NC Coastal Home Insurance agent at (910)591-1010 or contact us.

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