It’s Hurricane Season in Florida. Massive tropical cyclones born from the sea & sky are already hurling themselves at our coastlines – determined to uproot trees, peel off rooftops, and damage our spirits. But they only win when we’re not prepared for them. Fortunately for us, preparing is easier than we think. How prepared are you this season? If you think you’re due for a Hurricane Prep refresher, then read on. It’s our Light Team at Keller Williams Hurricane Preparedness Checklist.
1. Create a Plan with your Family
You should Hope for the Best, but Plan for the Worst. When families are proactive in planning for possible disasters, it can help reduce the chaos during the situation. Every Plan should include evacuation routes, emergency numbers, shelter possibilities, and a communication strategy. First, you’ll need to know where to go in the event of a hurricane. To discover your local hurricane evacuation routes, contact a local emergency management agency and be prepared to drive about 20-50 miles inland in order to locate a safe place to stay. In case any family members are separated during a disaster, it’s important to have a plan of action to find one another. Before a storm, it’s important to prepare children for how to handle these incredibly stressful, and often frightening, emergencies. To do this, practice evacuation drills with kids so that, during an emergency, you are able to complete an evacuation quickly and as safely as possible. Sign up for local alerts and warnings, plan for possible shelter options, and stay tuned to local wireless emergency alerts, radio, or TV for weather updates, emergency instructions, or even direct evacuation orders.
2. Build a Disaster Kit
Get these items sooner than later — as many places sell out! A disaster kit may be different for each family. However, each kit should have the basics such as:
- Bottled Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food / Non-Perishable Snacks – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food — don’t forget the manual can food opener for canned goods
- Pet Food and extra Water for your Pet
- Paper Cups, Plates, Paper Towels, and Plastic Utensils
- Cash or Traveler’s Checks
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Small Portable Solar Generator
- Flashlights, Lanterns, and Glow Sticks
- Extra Back-Up Battery or Solar-Powered USB Charger for Cell Phones
- Whistle to signal for help
- Sanitation Items such as Moist Towelettes, garbage bags & plastic ties for personal sanitation, Feminine Supplies, Personal Hygiene Items (Toothbrush, toothpaste, bar of soap).
- First-Aid Kits
- Prescription Medications and Non-Prescription Medications (such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, etc)
- Sleeping Bag or Warm Blanket for Each Person
- Glasses & Contact Lens Solution
- Important Documents – Identification, Birth Certificates, copies of Insurance Policies, Bank Account Records — these should be saved electronically and/or in a waterproof, portable container
- Local Maps
- List of Important Contacts:
- Emergency Management Offices
- County Law Enforcement
- County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
- Local Hospitals
- Local American Red Cross
- Your Property Insurance Agent
- For Children — extra school supplies and books to keep them busy, as well as comfort items such as blankets and stuffed animals.
Assemble as many of these critical items as you can, and secure them in a weather-resistant “Go Bag.” Keep it somewhere accessible, so you can grab it in a moment’s notice or when taking cover.
3. Take Pictures of your Belongings
Insurance companies will be handling many thousands of claims after a natural disaster. Avoid hassle and confusion by having recent photos of your valuable belongings ready. For electronic devices, grab a photo of the serial number and/or model number on the back. These images will go a long way in proving what may have been lost or destroyed in a storm. (Bonus: this is helpful after other unfortunate events, such as burglary or looting)
4. Protect Windows
Most storm damage occurs when windows are unshielded. A single broken window in a home is enough to create a pressure differential that can cause your roof to literally burst off your home. Your best option is to pre-install permanent/semi-permanent storm shutters. If that’s not an option, go for one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows. Stores like Lowes and Home Depot can help you find the right fasteners to apply these wooden barriers to your home’s exterior.
5. Bring in Outdoor Items
Outdoor items that aren’t fastened to the ground can quickly become high-powered missiles in heavy winds. Bring in or thoroughly secure outdoor furniture, toys and bicycles, gardening tools, grills, and trash cans that the wind could easily launch and fling at your home or others. Store them away from stairs or exits.
6. Fill up your Gas Tanks
Gas availability can quickly become costly, and/or scarce after a disaster. You’ll want to be sure you have plenty of gas, in case you need to evacuate. If you’re evacuating on an empty tank, it’s too late.
7. Turn your Fridge & Freezer to its Coldest Setting
Stock up your fridge, then crank it down. You’ll likely lose power during or after the Hurricane, so you’ll want to give your fridge a bit of extra chill to preserve your food as long as possible. Once the power is out, only open the fridge when necessary, and don’t keep it open long. Cool air is very quickly replaced by the warmer air in your un-powered home.
8. Fill Bathtubs and Sinks with Water
You might lose water pressure after a heavy storm. Keep plenty of bottled water for drinking, but fill up your tubs and sinks for other uses – like cleaning, or to flush your toilets. Many don’t know you can force a toilet to flush by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl. It helps to have a tub filled with water right next to the toilet.
9. Unplug Small Appliances
As power goes in and out, the strain of inconsistent voltage can burn out key appliances – like wall or window AC units, computers, televisions, and more. Unplug them until consistent power at normal voltage is restored in your neighborhood.
See Other Hurricane Supplies on Amazon
Read More Tips on These Sites
- National Hurricane Center
- Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist
- BePrepared.com Hurricane Emergency Preparation Guide
- What to Do Before, During, and After a Hurricane
We sincerely hope, for all our sakes, that the next hurricane passes by without leaving a trail of damage and destruction in its wake. But we hope you’ll be prepared for the worst, by following this checklist or the others linked above. Good luck out there!
– The Light Team at Keller Williams Advantage III Realty