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How to prepare your house for Long Island's storm season

Water, flashlights, gasoline for the generator? Check, check, check. Oh, and don't forget to call an arborist.

"We know as soon as the news of a storm hits, people hit the store," says one Long Island Home Depot employee. Photo Credit: AP/Ken Blevins

While Long Island was spared the wrath of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm, the Atlantic’s six-month hurricane season is far from over.

While this season has been relatively quiet so far, forecasters are predicting it will pick up before its official close at the end of November.

Here are some things that Long Islanders can do to protect themselves and their homes from damage if a powerful storm comes our way.

STOCK UP

Dawn Vanterpool, manager of Home Depot in Commack, advises residents to set up a watertight emergency storage bin stocked with necessities such as flashlights, batteries, water and backup cellphone batteries.

“We know as soon as the news of a storm hits, people hit the store,” Vanterpool says. If you prepare early, she says, “you can avoid that crunch.”

Tarps to cover air conditioning units can help keep water from getting into your home, she said. For those with central air conditioning, “After Sandy, some customers have requested the unit be raised off the ground,” Vanterpool says.

To prevent minor basement seepage, homeowners can use a product such as Drylok, an interior latex paint, to waterproof some basement walls, she says.

Look into getting a generator — either a whole-house generator or one to power small appliances, like the refrigerator -- well in advance of a storm, Vanterpool says, and make sure to keep it outside the home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

Falling trees regularly kill people and damage property during hurricanes. Consider hiring an arborist in advance of the next storm to check the health of trees, particularly ones that are close to the house.

Gil Shemtov, an agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Long Beach, says common-sense precautions for those in the path of a severe storm include boarding up windows and piling up sandbags at doorways to prevent water from entering the house.

Owners should also test generators and sump pumps and make sure there is enough gas on hand to power them, as demand will soar (and supplies dwindle) after a big storm.

Put away all outdoor furniture and anything that can blow around, including garbage cans, recycling bins and hanging flowerpots.

“The wind is as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the water,” Shemtov says.

CHECK ON INSURANCE

After Sandy, Christina Shaw, an Allstate insurance agent in Wantagh, didn’t have access to her home for five weeks. She reminds homeowners to make sure they know the details of their homeowner’s insurance policy and whom to call in the event of a claim.

Homeowners should also keep in mind that many insurance companies institute a moratorium on policy changes in advance of a storm.

Buyers planning to close on a house around the time of storm may see their closing delayed in the event of a blackout period, as new homeowner’s insurance policies won’t be written, Shaw says.

If you need flood insurance, make sure you have it well in advance.

“Before weather hits, you should be having conversations with whoever your trusted adviser is to see if you have the right coverage,” Shaw says. “At any moment, our corporate headquarters could say there is a moratorium on changes. If you have a $2,000 deductible, they’re not going to let you change it.”

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