The summer months can bring stormy weather to Florida. Whether you are a native, implant or new Floridian, everyone should have a plan in place.
1.) Do Your Research
- Find local shelters at floridadisaster.org/shelters. Shelters may or may not accept pets; most county websites designate pet-friendly shelter locations.
- Gather emergency contact numbers. Designate an out-of-state friend or family member to be an emergency point of contact; it may be easier to get a call to go through out of state than across town in case of a local disaster. Also, every person with a cell phone should have a designated ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact in their phone, which emergency personnel are trained to look for.
- Know emergency radio stations which will broadcast storm-related information; NOAA has a helpful broadcast list on their website.
- Know your evacuation zone. Evacuation zones are planned for those areas that are susceptible of flooding during a hurricane. Many communities have designated areas for you and your family to go to for safety in the case of flooding and emergencies.
- Download the FEMA app. With all the technology we have at our fingertips, FEMA has created an app to help you know what to do before, during and after a hurricane. The app also gives you weather alerts in your area, lifesaving tips and access to disaster resources. So that you can access this app, pack portable or solar phone chargers in your emergency kit, if possible.
2.) Take Inventory
- Make a written and photographic inventory of contents in your home, including serial numbers, for insurance purposes.
- Store important docs in a waterproof container. This includes your inventory along with other valuable documents such as vehicle titles, mortgage documents, birth certificates, etc.
3.) Create an Emergency Supply Kit and store it in a waterproof container. Ready.gov offers a complete checklist; a basic kit includes:
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Water – One gallon per person, per day, for three-days
- Pet supplies for at least three days (if applicable)
- Baby supplies for at least three days (if applicable)
- Manual can opener, cups, plates and eating utensils
- Basic tool box with wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- First-aid kit and medications
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, or a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Basic camping supplies including blankets, matches, hygiene products, plus moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Change of clothes
- Cell phone with portable charger, solar charger and/or power inverter
- Local maps
- Important documents such as insurance policies, identification, etc.
4.) Plan with Your Family
- Set an evacuation route and be sure your family knows it well by practicing together.
- Listen to local officials. If officials say to evacuate, don’t wait or assume you’ll be fine. It is better to be safe than sorry. Keep your family safe.
- Plan to communicate without technology (flashlight signals, sounds, etc.), as communication systems can go out in a bad storm.
- Give everyone a copy of your emergency contact list.
5.) Secure Your Home
- Protect your windows. Permanent shutters are the best protection, but a lower cost approach is to pre-cut and drill plywood panels. Label the panels so you know which is for what window and have holes pre-drilled in the exterior walls for easy installation.
- Maintain trees and shrubs as limbs and branches can become damaging to your or your neighbor’s homes. In particular, trim any branches overhanging your roof.
- Seal around windows and doors. Seal any cracks in the stucco finish with an elastomeric caulking, and caulk around doors and windows with an outdoor caulk designed for your window or door frame materials. Adjust the door threshold for a tight seal.
- Bring loose belongings inside the house or garage as yard decorations, patio furniture, grills and garbage cans can be blown around by high winds and damage your property and others.
- Turn the fridge and freezer to coldest settings and keep the doors closed. According to foodsafety.gov, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is left closed and a full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours. If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.
6.) Protect Your Furniture
- Elevate on waterproof materials
- Move items to the second floor if you have a two-story home
- Break down larger items in containers if you can
- Pack smaller items in waterproof containers
- Don’t be afraid to break out grandma’s old furniture covers or plastic wrap larger belongings which aren’t easily moved