Preparing BEFORE the Hurricane
Hurricane season is every year from June 1 through November 30. The mere mention of it brings great fear into those people who live in coastal towns, on the Gulf shores, and the Eastern Seaboard. But what many people don’t realize is that even inland, like Orlando and Central Florida, you are susceptible to serious hurricane damage and need to be prepared.
In 2004, Hurricane Charley was the worst hurricane to hit Florida since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. The devastation from Charley was enormous. In the state of Florida, Charley caused $6.755 Billion in uninsured property damage. Nationwide, Charley totaled over $15 Billion in damage, and was responsible for 10 deaths in the US, 1 in Jamaica, and 4 in Cuba.
In 2017, the US was hit with two of the most deadly storms: Irma and Harvey. While Texas suffered from the destruction of Harvey, Floridians were hit hard with Irma. Irma was the most powerful storm ever to come out of the Atlantic ocean in recorded history. She would have done more property damage than she did, had it not been for new building codes being put into effect to help Floridians’ homes better suited to withstand these type storms. Estimated damage costs from Irma to the US was close to $50 Billion!
With all of these stats, its obvious that hurricanes are not something to ignore. You must always take them seriously when it comes to preparation. The National Weather Service has an official Hurricane Preparedness Week from May 6 – May 12. Although many of us want to take this time in Florida to get our pools cleaned, purchase new swimsuits and head towards the beach, its also a good time to take the necessary steps to get prepared for the upcoming Hurricane Season. If its already in the thick of Hurricane Season, and you haven’t done any preparation yet, then take the time now to get prepared. Its never too late.
#1. Get an action plan.
Your personal action plan helps you determine who does what, where you go for safety, and what you take along with you. And just like you had fire drills in elementary school, practice drills for the hurricane are always a good idea for you and your family members.
- In the event of an evacuation, determine where you will go. Will it be at a relative’s home, a shelter, a motel, a friend’s house?
- Get a paper map (you never know if internet or cell service will be unavailable) and highlight the safest and quickest way to get to your destination. Keep in mind that bridges, areas near rivers or low-lying areas may be unsafe during a storm. Having alternate ways to get to your destination are just as important.
- Revisit your insurance policy. If you are not sure of something, reach out to your carrier to review your coverage. Keep your policy number and a phone number to the insurance carrier handy.
- Take photos and videos of your valuables, your important documents, and footage of your property itself. Put the digital photos and video in a cloud where you can access them from anywhere at any time, in the event you need them for an insurance claim.
- Download a Hurricane Tracking Map, have it laminated and put it up where your family can watch it and mark with a dry erase marker and keep track of the hurricane.
- Put together a list of emergency contacts, including close relatives, friends, doctor’s and homeowners insurance carrier phone numbers. Also include a list of reputable contractors that you can call on after the hurricane, should you have incurred any damage.
- Fill up your gas tank (this should be done just a day or two before the hurricane is suspected to hit.
- Fill up portable gas cans (for use in generator or extra gas for cars)
- Download your favorite tunes to your phone or iPod before the internet and electricity goes out!
#2. Get supplies together.
Your emergency supply kit is actually composed of 2 kits. The first kit is for when you stay at home. The second one includes additional supplies (on top of the first kit) that you’ll need for when you must evacuate. There are many great resources out there. It doesn’t hurt to check out more than one to make sure you have everything you need in your kit and you have yourself covered.
At Home Kit:
- A battery-operated weather radio
- 6 extra sets of batteries (size for radio and flashlights)
- 2 flashlights
- A cooler.
- Gel Freezer packs
- Grill with fuel, camping stove, or charcoal grill with charcoal and lighter fluid
- A fire extinguisher
- 2 tarps
- 3 towels per person
- A 2 week supply of any prescription medicines that you or your family takes
- If you have a baby, prepare a 2-week supply of diapers, formula, bottles, etc…
- A first aid kit that includes 2 week supply of Aspirin/Tylenol, antacids, anti-diarrhea medicine, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial cream, bandages, bug spray, scissors and tape
- If you have pets, a 2-week supply of pet foods, can opener, litter, etc…
- A whistle
- Bottled drinking water in plastic containers- A minimum of 1 gallon per person/per day for 14 days
- A cell phone
- Box of large plastic trash bags
- 1 box of plastic zip-top type gallon freezer or storage bags
- A water purifying kit
- Eating utensils – forks, knives, spoons etc..
- Portable Generator, window fans, and 2 portable AC units if possible
- Plywood, nails and hammer for boarding up windows and doors prior to the storm
- Phone chargers and portable batteries for your phone
- Map and Compass
- Can of tire sealer (for the trunk of your car)
- Blankets and sheets for each person – or sleeping bags
- Air mattresses for everyone
- Suitcase with clothing and shoes
- Toiletries (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc…)
- Phone chargers and portable batteries for your phone
Prior to the storm, you should stock up on non-perishable foods and water. These items should be used only after all the perishable food items from the refrigerator and freezer are eaten. Examples of non-perishable foods are:
- Canned mets, vegetables, fruits, soups, evaporated mild, cooking oil, juices, drinks.
- Boxed items such as soup mixes, sugar, salt and pepper, flour, etc..
- Energy boosters such as granola, granola bars, peanut butter, bread, cookies, nuts, dried fruit, snacks, etc…
This may seem like overkill. But you can never be too prepared. Hurricanes can be dangerous storms and should never be taken lightly. Besides, its always better to be over prepared and ready for the worst. Once you have your supplies and action plan together, the next year will be much easier and less involved. You will feel much more at ease and confident. The next Hurricane Season you should be a master at the preparation