Car-Safety Tips for a Hurricane

January 27, 2023

Check the car windows. It seems simple, but it is important. Make sure the windows and sunroof are all closed tight.

Take pictures. This goes for the car, as well as the house. Snap a few before pictures in case you need to prove damage was caused by the storm.

Park on high ground. Doing this will help you remove some of the risk of flooding. A water-damaged car is an expensive, disappointing boat anchor.

Protect the garage. In the South, modern homes are built to hurricane codes, with structures and even garage doors engineered to withstand harsh storms. If that’s not the case where you live, consider parking your car outside, tight against the garage door—sideways—to block high-speed winds and hopefully preserve the door’s integrity. Should true hurricane-force winds break through the garage door, the storm can do serious structural damage. With an attached garage, that damage can quickly translate to the house.

Protect insurance paperwork. If possible, keep a copy of the car insurance paperwork in a zip-top bag within your go bag. Should the car be damaged, don’t delay calling the insurance company for days. Chances are, you’re not alone, and the local repair shops will quickly be booked up.

Evacuate with caution. If you decide to drive away from the storm, before the harsh winds arrive, drive safely. Don’t speed, especially in the rain. The faster you drive, the greater the risk of hydroplaning—when water causes a vehicle’s tires to lift off the road surface. Stick to major roads.

According to Myles Mitchom, spokesman for State Farm Insurance, it’s important to simply avoid flooded areas, especially ones with rapid water flow. "Keep things safe and simple, (and) reschedule your plans if you’re aware of flooding in the area," he says. "If flooding occurs when you’re on the road, stay on high ground." He added that it’s important to remember not to camp or park your vehicle along streams or washes, especially when conditions are threatening.

Avoid shortcuts. They are more likely to have problems, especially after the storm (trees down, flooding), and less likely to have emergency workers keeping the road clear. Try to limit the family to one car, so as to minimize road congestion. And stay away from flooded areas and downed power lines.

With some quick preparation, your car can play a key role in weathering the storm. Good luck.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit ready.gov and fema.gov.

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