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Hurricane Preparedness Week: A slew of tips to use

Generator safety, insurance tips, and more
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Posted at 8:02 AM, May 04, 2022

It's the first week of May — known as Hurricane Preparedness Week. Hurricane season starts June 1.

While you may consider yourself an "expert" in hurricane prep (or maybe not), experts say it's still something to pay attention to.

Starting off with generator safety, KATC spoke with Alton Trahan at Lafayette Fire Department. He says while the subject may be something people think gets rehashed every year — his team finds it's still one of the leading causes of injury and even death during times of severe weather — and it's almost entirely preventable.

While most people make use of portable generators, Trahan says it's not the generator itself that is the issue, most of the time its operator error. Therefore, he says you need to make sure you're reading the directions even if you think you know how your machine operates.

Other tips include: placing generators at least 20 feet away from your home; turning the machine off and letting it cool for at least 15-20 minutes before refueling; having a fire extinguisher handy; and when you're done using it, making sure the generator is cooled down all the way before putting it away.

Trahan uses these tips among others in his own home, but only when power is going to be out for long periods of time or more than a couple of hours.

"I'm basically the only one who basically is starting, stopping it, and refilling it because I understand the safety aspect of it on top of that I have a very heavy duty extension cord that is utilized for only plugging it in for my refrigerator and freezer," Trahan tells KATC. "I'm not concerned about any other access to appliances, those are the only two.

Also recommended are keeping gas cans away from your generator and away from kids, and having a single adult responsible for its operation.

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Moving on, one thing many people overlook is their insurance policy.

Ryan Stokes with Property Damage Appraisers says he has years of experience in this matter. He tells KATC at least 70 to 80 percent of people don't know what is on their policy — such as what's covered, what's not covered, whether they live in a flood plain, and what exactly would make their deductibles increase — which is something that doesn't have to be because of hurricane or flood damage, but could boil down to something as simple as being in the same zip code as those with damage, even if you're landlocked.

"Most people don't have inventory of their houses, they don't know serial numbers on their valuables, anything like that," Stokes says. "And I think that's one of the things that's driven this hurricane preparedness piece is the realization that most people are vastly, wildly unprepared for any catastrophic event."

Stokes says if your insurance is giving you a headache, you're doing it wrong — as it's meant to do just the opposite. In order to be better prepared for catastrophic curveballs, he recommends you take inventory of your home and any precious items you may have during fall and spring cleaning. That way, you can easily knock it off the to-do list. Just make sure you have a single, safe place to keep these records.

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Whether you've been through them yourself or it's your first go-around, now may be the perfect time to talk with your kids about what to expect during hurricane season.

Experts say it's crucial to talk with your kids about not just your plan — but what to expect. But how do you start this conversation?

Many of those living here in Louisiana and other places along the coast say they suffer from what they consider "Hurricane PTSD", and as a parent or loved one, it's likely you want to prevent your kids from feeling the same way.

Representatives of Acadiana Family Tree say while this is a serious topic, it doesn't have to be a scary conversation — especially with young children. In fact, they say you can get creative with your approach.

"You know, you can find YouTube videos, there's library books you can check out that you can read together about what a hurricane is, how it works, and it's age-appropriate," Marie Collins, the non-profit's executive director, says. "It's little books and so they think they're just hearing a little story, but they are getting that message."

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