Be Prepared and Protect Your Home and Family
Hurricane season is no time to be unprepared. Though advanced radar and tracking systems allow us many days of advanced warning before these storms hit land, you need to have a clear plan and take other precautions at the beginning of hurricane season, so when the watch is issued, you’re ready to go. That’s why we’ve compiled a hurricane season checklist to help Southwest Florida residents through this difficult time. With the proper preparation, you can ensure your home and family is ready to ride out the storm or evacuate as necessary. Read on to discover what you can do to get your home ready for the Atlantic hurricane season, so that when June 1st rolls around, you’re prepared for the year’s hurricane season.
Step 1: Plan an Evacuation Route
Before hurricane season even starts, you should have a plan for evacuation. Talk to family members or friends outside the area and make arrangements for where you will stay if you need to evacuate due to a storm. Buy a road atlas and plan multiple routes you can take to account for the possibility of closed roads. Do not rely solely on your GPS or routes only on major highways. If a large number of people are evacuating and all use the same route given by a GPS, traffic congestion can occur, causing more confusion and delay.
Step 2: Stock Up on Emergency Supplies
If you plan to “ride out” any storm, you’ll need the appropriate supplies to get you and your family through. It’s important to know that if you are told to evacuate, you should absolutely do so. Never attempt to ride out storms that the weather service has deemed too dangerous. You should purchase all of these items and have them on hand before storm season begins. If you wait until the alert for an approaching hurricane has been issued, you could face crowds at the store and sold out products. Be sure you have all of the following at the ready:
- 5 gallons of drinking water for every person in the home
- Food supply for 3 to 5 days (non-perishable, if possible, in case the power goes out)
- First aid kit
- Medicines and required prescriptions
- Batteries and flashlights (recommended one flashlight per person)
- Grill or other means of cooking without power as well as necessary fuel for it
- Extra gas for your generator (if you have one)
- Portable radio and weather radio with backup batteries
- Battery operated fan
- Fire extinguisher
Secure & Protect Your Home
Even with the force of hurricane winds, your home can still be left standing, especially with the proper preparation tactics. In the months leading up to hurricane season, or if you have time in the days immediately before a hurricane hits land, secure your home using the following methods:
Check the condition of storm shutters or install them: If you already have storm shutters, ensure they are still in good enough condition to protect your windows from high winds. If you don’t have any shutters, consider having some installed as this is a quick and easy way to protect your windows without requiring any work. As an alternative, you can fit plywood panels over your windows, nailing them to window frames as the storm approaches.
Protect your AC unit: Often overlooked, your ac unit needs to be protected from hurricanes, either with a cover or tarp. You’ll also need to cut electricity to the unit as the storm hits.
Secure entry doors: All entry doors in your home should be thoroughly secured with three hinges and a deadbolt lock that is 1-inch long.
Reinforce garage doors: Garage doors that aren’t designed specifically to withstand wind pressure and high impacts could leave your home at great risk for damage if they are blown off. Make sure you’ve reinforced your door or replaced it with one that is approved for wind pressure and impact protection.
Seal outdoor wall openings: Stop water penetration during the storm by caulking any wall openings that would allow water into your home. This includes vents, outdoor electrical outlets, and areas where pipes or cables enter the wall.
Check generator: Do a trial run of your generator to ensure it’s still in working condition, and you know the proper way to start and run it.
Take Photos of Your Home & Personal Property
Make a list of all the personal items in your home, taking pictures as you go to create a complete inventory of your belongings. Make sure you have enough insurance coverage to replace these items in the event of complete damage of your home. Having this inventory can also help to speed up the claims process. If you evacuate, be sure to take this list with you.
Be Ready to Evacuate
When a hurricane is heading for Southwest Florida, the number one item on your list should always be to prepare for evacuation. Storms often worsen as they head for land, picking up steam in the warm waters of the ocean, so when the warning comes to evacuate, do not hesitate. Make sure you have a bag of clothes and other essential items packed. This includes medications, important paperwork, and other things you’ll need during or after the storm. Never attempt to ride out a storm after the order has been given to evacuate.
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