Disaster Preparedness

bolts of lightning

What’s your IQ when it comes to calamities?

Find out by taking this quiz.

house on fire

1. Your home is three times more likely to be damaged by:

  1. a. a flood than a fire.
  2. b. a fire than a flood.

a. Correct

Anywhere it rains, it can flood.

Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future. Unfortunately, your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover flood damage to your home or property; only flood insurance will cover those losses.

You can secure flood insurance to protect your home or business through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program. Erie Insurance also partners with American Bankers Insurance Company to offer flood coverage. To learn more about this coverage, contact an ERIE Agent today.

waves in a storm

2. Which natural disaster can produce the fastest winds on Earth?

  1. a. Cyclone
  2. b. Hurricane
  3. c. Tornado
  4. d. Tsunami

c. Correct

A strong tornado can generate wind speeds as high as 250 to 300 miles per hour.

At these speeds, they are capable of destroying structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles.

Maintaining a Household Inventory RecordPDF document is important because it details everything you own and the estimated cost to replace lost or ruined items. A Household Inventory Record (stored somewhere besides your home) is an efficient way to request reimbursement for your personal belongings should a disaster wreak havoc.

If you need to rebuild your home or business, does you policy provide adequate coverage? Ask your local ERIE Agent about your coverage and replacement cost options for damaged property.

tornado touching down on the road

3. EF2 and EF3 tornadoes with 111 mph to 165 mph winds can destroy a property in how many seconds?

  1. a. 4 seconds
  2. b. 12 seconds
  3. c. 24 seconds
  4. d. 32 seconds

a. Correct

Tornadoes can destroy property in just 4 seconds, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

The biggest initial risk to property is flying debris, which can shatter windows and create holes in exterior walls. Once an opening is created, air rushes inside the structure and pressurizes it like inflating a balloon. If the roof blows off, the entire structure can collapse within seconds.

If a tornado hit your hometown, would you be prepared? When was the last time you reviewed your insurance coverage with your Agent? Give your local ERIE Agent a call today.

lightning striking a house

4. What should you do to protect homes and businesses against power surges and lightning strikes?

  1. a. Use surge protectors
  2. b. Unplug electronic equipment
  3. c. Install lightning protection
  4. d. All of the above

d. Correct

Lightning strikes cost nearly $1 billion in insured losses in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

To protect homes and businesses against power surges and lightning strikes, the III recommends:

  • Installing a lightning protection system that provides a specified path on which the lighting can travel.
  • Using surge protectors or UL-listed surge arrestors that are installed on electrical service panels as well as incoming phone, cable, satellite and data lines.
  • Unplugging expensive electronic equipment such as TVs and computers when you know a storm is on the way.

Check out the III video on how to pick a lightning protection system for more information.

pot on a campfire

5. What is the leading cause of most home structure fires?

  1. a. Home heating
  2. b. Cooking
  3. c. Candles
  4. d. Electrical

b. Correct

Cooking played a part in an estimated 156,400 home structure fires and caused $993 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

To prevent kitchen fires in your home, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach — and know how to use it.
  • Place a smoke detector close to your kitchen and routinely replace the batteries.
  • Do not throw water on a grease fire. It won’t extinguish it — and when burning oil splashes, it will actually spread the fire.

It also helps to know which foods are the most flammable.

a front-loading dryer

6. What is the leading cause of dryer fires?

  1. a. Mechanical failure
  2. b. Electrical failure
  3. c. Failure to clean the dryer
  4. d. Answers A and B

c. Correct

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the leading cause of dryer and washer fires was failure to clean them (29 percent), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (24 percent), and electrical failure or short circuit (13 percent).

If you notice heavy clothes such as jeans or towels taking a long time to dry or clothes feel hotter than usual at the end of the cycle, a clogged dryer vent exhaust may be the problem.


7. Wind-driven rains and standing water can lead to damage inside your home or business. What can you do to prevent or minimize damage?

  1. a. Redirect pooling water
  2. b. Seal gaps
  3. c. Call an expert
  4. d. All of the above

a. Correct

Pooling water near a house can lead to significant interior damage.

What’s more, water can also cause significant damage when it seeps in through gaps around windows and doors, pipes, electrical outlets, circuit breaker boxes, and electric and water meters. Go to the IBHS Web site for tips on what to do — or call an expert for advice.

Unlike fire, some of the damage caused by water, such as mold, slow leaks and foundation seeping, is generally limited or not covered by insurance. If you’re not sure what’s covered under your insurance policy, contact your local ERIE Agent.

a frozen pipe fitting

8. Frozen pipes are one of the biggest risks for property damage. To prevent pipe damage, keep a home or business interior temperature from dipping below …

  1. a. 55 degrees
  2. b. 32 degrees
  3. c. 25 degrees

a. Correct

Keeping the interior temperature from dropping below 32 degrees and properly insulating the space are two important steps you can take to protect your home and business.

Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing in extremely cold weather. That’s because exterior building holes for television, cable or telephone lines give cold air easy access to pipes.

A burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage, according to research by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). To learn about extra steps you can take to prevent burst pipes, visit disastersafety.org.

a tree next to a house

9. How can you spot a potential tree problem? When you see …

  1. a. Cracks in the trunk or major limbs of a tree
  2. b. V-shaped rather than U-shaped forks in the tree
  3. c. Branches that rub or interfere with one another
  4. d. All of the above

a. Correct

If you have a tree that could potentially cause a problem, be sure to take corrective action — either on your own or with the help of a tree removal specialist.

When the tree boughs break, you could be faced with costly property damage. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), falling trees and limbs account for hundreds of millions of dollars in damage each year. They also cause personal injury and even death and have the potential to destroy homes right down to the foundations.

Depending on the cause of the damage, debris removal may or may not be covered. Refer to your insurance policy for coverage specifics and talk to your local ERIE Agent.

a day planner showing a scheduled meeting with an insurance agent

10. With all the risks you face every day, how often should you review your insurance coverage with your Agent?

  1. a. Every year
  2. b. Every one to two years
  3. c. Every two to three years
  4. d. Every three to five years

a. Correct

As life changes, so too does insurance.

Let your ERIE Agent know about all the changes happening in you and your family’s life at least once per year so he or she can ensure there are no gaps in your coverage.

ERIE’s independent Agents will help you make important decisions about your auto, home, life and business insurance. They’re experienced, hard-working insurance professionals completely committed to giving you the peace of mind you deserve.