With hurricane season here, running from June 1 to November 30, the need for South Floridians to be prepared is always high. Every year, we're warned to be prepared, and every year, people ignore those warnings. Remember the devastation of Hurricane Wilma in 2005? Nobody expected it to be as bad as it was. Remember Hurricane Andrew in 1992? It destroyed South Florida!
Here are a few ways you can be prepared for the next big storm:
Make sure you have your supplies
This is probably the easiest of all the ways you can stay prepared. Go online or to the store and buy a big tub. Then, go to Publix another grocery store and start stocking up on non-perishable foods. This means canned and boxed food. Make sure you get some protein (beans and soups), pasta, and forget vegetables. Have enough food for three to five for each person living in your household. Get more if you expect to have company during a storm.
Most importantly: Get bottled water. Home Depot and Lowe's sell it in bulk at discounted prices. Again, you'll need at least 3-5 days worth of water for each person. But remember, you'll need to use this water to drink, brush your teeth, cook (if you're not boiling it), and possibly bathe. After a hurricane, it's often recommended to boil all your water first, so if you don't feel like boiling water, make sure you account for this with your bottled water. Other things you'll need:
Radio that runs on batteries or solar power
Gloves for outdoor work
Dog food (if you have pets)
Propane if you have a gas grill
You'll need to check your supplies before each hurricane season or storm. Batteries corrode, food expires, or bugs can get to it.
Make neighborhood friends
Hurricanes are a time when people in a community can join together to make sure they're prepared. You may need help putting up your shutters, or ran out of fasteners for your shutters. Or, your neighbors may need help with something. Whatever the problem you or a neighbor has, it's important to be there for each other. Remember, the nicer you are to them, the nicer they'll be to you. This comes in especially handy when you lose power and your neighbor happens to have a whole-home generator and their air conditioning is working.
Do you want to be stuck in the humidity without power? No. Be friends with a neighbor who has a generator.
Get some tools
Make sure you have tools to get work done. Trees may fall, a window may break, or something doesn't fit and you need to make a repair. Here are some tools we highly recommend:
Hammer and nails
Battery-operated drill with bits and screws
Tree trimming and pruning tools. Loppers come in handy for branches up to 2.5 inches thick
Saw - battery-operated or hand-powered. You may need to cut plywood to board up a window (but not if you have impact windows)
Heavy-duty gloves. If you have a partner, get a pair for them, too. They now make gloves that have fabric that allows you to touch a cell phone screen. Quite convenient!
Rope always comes in handy
Your AC should be working well
Wait, what? Why would I need to have a properly working AC during a hurricane? Good question. You need an air conditioner to work well because you may experience heavy rains, high humidity, and power surges. If your AC needs to work overtime with the humidity (assuming you have power) then having it break down is the last thing you need to happen. Likewise, if there's a power surge and your AC isn't protected or the equipment is not in top shape, the electrical systems can get blown out.
We recommend having a regular AC maintenance plan that includes semi-annual tune-ups and covers your if there is damage. Be prepared.
Prepare your home and land
Next, when preparing your home to weather the storm, there are a few things you need to make sure you do.
Trim the trees and plants on your property and -- and this is super important -- make sure the trimmed branches and leaves are removed BEFORE the storm. They can become projectiles and smash through unprotected windows that don't have storm windows or shutters.
Put up your shutters. No brainer, right? If you don't have shutters, we recommend getting hurricane-strength windows. If you have them you can skip this step.
Bring your patio furniture and all outdoor decorations inside. This includes chairs, tables, planters, rugs, grill, etc. You don't want these things ending up inside a neighbors house.
Bring the pets in. Hurricanes are one of the biggest reasons pets are lost. People forget to bring them in or, unfortunately, some people just let their pets go. Be nice to your pets.
What are you supposed to do if you don't have room in your house or garage to store furniture? An old trick is to put the things you can inside your swimming pool. That's right, put the chairs and table in the pool. They won't go anywhere. Just be aware of what chlorine may do to them.
The fun stuff
If you're weathering the storm with a friend or loved one, make sure you have some entertainment. Get a few books and board games to play, or even some fun puzzles. Kids in college love to have hurricane parties, so if you're responsible, why not do the same? Take some time to disconnect from technology and enjoy the time with people.
Don't be afraid to evacuate
Look, hurricanes are scary. If you don't have a secure place to stay, or your home is located in a flood zone, or it's required that you evacuate, don't mess around. There are many shelters out there that are safe and will take you. Or, you can leave the South Florida area (we're in Boca Raton) and go to another state or somewhere inland.
The point is that the fear or inconvenience of evacuating is a lot better than risking your life. It's as simple as that.
Remember, safety is your first priority during a hurricane. Be logical, be smart, and be prepared for the worst.
If you're not sure if the windows in your home are hurricane-strength and are interested in new impact windows, give us a call at (561) 213-4988. We'd love to talk. Or, shoot us an email and we'll get back to you right away.