Hurricane Dorian is heading our way, and it’s a stark reminder that we might have a rough season ahead of us. Even though Floridians are no stranger to hurricanes, now’s as good a time as any to go over something that some homeowners forget: keeping your appliances safe.
The average American home has around $10,000 worth of appliances in it – that’s a lot to replace, so it’s worth taking the time to safeguard them from the effects of the storm.
First and foremost, unplug everything. Unplugging electric appliances is the best way to protect them from being damaged by a power surge. Even if you have a whole-home surge protector, it can’t defend your appliances against lightning strikes by itself, so it’s still a good idea to unplug everything in the event of a hurricane.
Unplug your microwave, refrigerator, washer and dryer, AC, stove/oven, and your water heater if it’s electric. You’ll also want to turn off your main circuit switch, because even if a power surge doesn’t get to your unplugged appliances, it can still cause a lot of costly damage to your home’s electrical system.
You don’t need to turn off gas service to your home, but you should shut off the gas lines to any appliances you might have that use it, such as a gas stove. Remember to turn off the pilot too. Important: don’t turn off your gas supply at your home’s meter. That tends to make utility companies irate.
Sometimes, damage is inevitable, and you’ll wind up replacing appliances no matter how many precautions you took. This is a matter of filing a claim with your insurance, but you need to make sure that you take pictures of your appliances beforehand to prove ownership and document that they were in working condition. If you don’t do this, insurance companies can be notoriously uncooperative if you file a claim and you’ll be out of luck.
Make sure the photos are clear and well lit. You’ll want to capture every angle of the appliance, and make sure to clearly photograph the manufacturer label with the model and serial numbers. You’ll also want to keep the original receipt safe and have a photo of it just in case.
If the worst happens, it’s also a good idea to take pictures afterwards. That way, you’ll have record of everything you own and what got damaged all in one file. It’s fine to take and store these pictures on your phone, but it’s a good idea to back them up in cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive.