Though hurricane season can induce anxiety, there are many steps you can take to prepare your property and ensure your individual safety before a hurricane hits your area. Always pay attention to the local radio news and the Emergency Alert System for warnings of any named storm and have a hurricane preparedness plan and disaster supply kit ready to go. Your hurricane response and disaster planning can help save lives and prevent property damage,making recovery less costly.
The first thing in preparing for hurricane season is ensuring you have all of the proper tools,personal items, and medical supplies on hand in a preparedness or disaster kit. Since the season lasts for multiple months, it is crucial to have enough supplies prepared in advance that can last you until the end of November. The supplies should be kept in an easy-to-carry emergency-preparedness kit that can travel with you if you need to evacuate your home.
This kit should include, at a minimum, the following basic supplies:
If you have young children or pets, you should also include extra baby supplies, pet supplies, and other items that your child or pet might need.
You should keep the kit in a designated safe room and ensure that you are able to access it quickly. Each family member should know where the kit is. You should also keep a kit in your car in case you are caught in a storm while driving. With these preparations, as well as having an evacuation plan, you will be ready in the instance of a hurricane warning. A hurricane plan may save your life from heavy rains, flood waters, high winds, and hurricanes.
To prepare for a hurricane, it is crucial to create a checklist to ensure that you do not forget any steps or required items in the hours before a storm hit. Many resources provide in-depth details on the different things you should have on your checklist.
For additional information, you can check the Floridadisaster.org supply checklist here.
As part of your checklist, you should include generator planning. Ask yourself, how will your generator be powered? If a hurricane hits, it may be more difficult to obtain a fuel delivery during and after the storm. Further, it might be more costly to buy fuel during the storm than if you had purchased in advance. Determine whether you will fuel your generator with diesel gas, natural gas, or some other fuel and purchase ahead of time to ensure that you will not be scrambling for power or waiting in long lines once the storm actually hits.
Another crucial part of your checklist should be making sure you prepare the trees on your property for a hurricane. Proper pruning is the most essential part of helping trees survive hurricanes. When the tree is young, you should give it a well-spaced framework so that it develops a dominant trunk with sturdy branches. Keep the shape as high up the tree as possible. If a tree is more than fifteen feet tall, get extra help from a certified arborist to properly prune it before hurricane season begins. The arborist will be able to create a safe place by correctly removing dead branches, which could risk falling on houses, electrical equipment, cars, or people. Make the tree less prone to falling by shortening excessively long branches. Remove low branches that are close to the roof. It is essential to hire a professional to evaluate your trees every two years to avoid damage during a hurricane.
Before hurricane season, you should always take steps to strengthen your home, and business building if you are a business owner, to prevent damages during a hurricane. To prepare, you should:
Mobile homes are at a much higher risk than non-mobile homes during a hurricane. If you live in a mobile home, be sure to take extra precautionary steps before hurricane season to prevent damages to your home. These steps include:
If you do not have any insurance policies for your mobile home, it is critical that you at least obtain a standard homeowners insurance for any damage that the hurricane might cause to your home or personal property. Also, have an emergency kit prepared.
If you do not have a safe place to hunker down in, such as a school or public shelter, then you should always stay indoors and away from all windows or glass doors. It is crucial to secure all interior doors and brace external doors. Stay in a safe area, such as an interior room or closet. Never go outside during a hurricane until the local officials confirm that the storm has passed.
People with disabilities or special needs may have to take extra steps to ensure their safety during a hurricane or an emergency. If you have family members, friends, or neighbors with disabilities or special needs, take extra steps to help them with these additional precautions. The Federal Alliance for Same Homes provides a non-exhaustive list you can use to help those with disabilities or special needs:
If you own a boat, you will want to take the proper steps to ensure that your boat survives hurricane season. The BoatUS Hurricane Catastrophe Team notes that the location of where the boat is stored during the hurricane is the number one determining factor as to whether the boat will survive the hurricane.
Their best advice is to store the boat ashore during hurricane season. Some boats must be pulled to have any chance of surviving, such as smaller open boats or high-performance powerboats with low freeboard. If the boat stays in the water, it will likely be overcome by waves, rain, and spray.
We always want to ensure that our furry friends and other pets are safe during a hurricane. If you evacuate, always remember to bring your pet with you.
If you stay at home during a hurricane, be sure to keep your pet in a crate or other form of carrier, and find a safe area where the whole family is staying during the storm. Do not remove your pet’s collar or tag, in case you get separated. If your pet does not have a microchip already, it is crucial to microchip your pet in case they lose their collars.
Miami Dade County answers crucial questions related to pet-friendly evacuation centers. You are not required to pre-register your pet before using pet-friendly evacuation centers. Upon arrival, a veterinarian will examine your pet to determine if your pet will present a safety risk. You must bring supplies for your pet to any evacuation center, and centers limit pets to four per household. At least one family member must stay at the evacuation center with your pet at all times, and your pet must be in a cage or on a leash at all times.
Be sure to review the Emergency Planning with Your Pets document ahead of time to prepare before a hurricane.
Esri, a geographic information system company, has created a Hurricane Risk Index based on population density and previous hurricane data to determine the high risk areas. The coastal cities along the east coast and Gulf of Mexico are at great risk of danger during a hurricane, as you’d expect, and the low-lying zones that have elevations between 0 to 20 feet above sea level are especially vulnerable. The counties with the most hurricanes are seen by the darker shades of red on the map below:
This map shows that the following counties see the most major hurricanes. Not surprisingly, the top 3 are all in southern Florida.
The study showed that areas at the highest risk were those that saw a high frequency of hurricanes and had large population densities per county. The index found the following areas with the highest risk:
To determine whether or not you should evacuate, you should always listen to your NOAA weather radio and stay alert with hurricane watch updates and storm advisories. People who live in a low-lying, flood-prone area or on a barrier island should consider evacuating when a hurricane approaches. Further, if you live in a mobile home close to the coast or if you are worried about the structural safety of your home, then you should consider evacuating before the storm hits. Know if you are in a flood zone or close to a flood zone and understand your hurricane risk before a hurricane hits.
When a hurricane is approaching, you should always plan ahead by making an emergency plan. Make arrangements with family members, family friends, neighbors, or other people to assist you during evacuation and know where to head when you evacuate. If necessary, contact the local emergency management office to assist you as well. Do not wait until the last minute to make these plans.
Map out your route and only use travel routes that local authorities specify. Do not evacuate until you know where you are going. Before the storm, always ensure that your car has enough gasoline to get you to your destination. When evacuating, you should always bring:
Be sure to secure your home before evacuating by boarding up windows and glass doors, anchoring all loose objects, and locking your doors.
The National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center breaks down each type of hurricane into categories based on wind speeds and the types of damages that the hurricane can cause. This national atmospheric administration refers to the categorization as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Category 1 has sustained wind speeds expected between 74 to 95 miles-per-hour (mph). This category is more powerful than tropical storms. The scale estimates that there will be very dangerous winds that will produce some damage. Well-constructed frame homes could see damages to the roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Category 1 storms can also cause large branches of trees to snap and shallow-rooted trees to topple. Power lines can see extensive damages, which will likely result in power outages that could last for one to several days.
Category 2 has sustained winds expected between 96 to 110 mph. The scale estimates that there will be extremely dangerous winds that will cause extensive damage. Homes could see major roof and siding damage. Many shallow-rooted trees will topple, uproot, or snap, blocking numerous roads. Experts expect near-total power loss, with power outages potentially lasting for days or weeks.
Category 3 has sustained winds expected between 111 to 129 mph. The scale predicts that devastating damage will occur. Experts predict that electricity and water will not be available for several days to weeks after the hurricane passes.
Category 4 has sustained winds expected between 130 to 156 mph. The scale predicts that catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built framed houses will likely have most of their roof structure damaged along with damage to exterior walls. Experts predict that power outages will likely last for weeks, or possibly months. Most of the affected areas will potentially be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5 has sustained winds expected to be 157 mph or higher. The scale predicts that catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of homes will be destroyed with potential roof failure and wall collapse. Experts predict that power outages will likely last for weeks, or possibly months. Most of the affected areas will potentially be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
If you are expecting a hurricane, you should follow the specific steps Miami-Dade County advises:
Some parts of your home are more likely to get damaged than other parts of the home. Before a storm, you should always secure specific parts of your home to prevent damage. These specific parts include:
After a hurricane, you should have a home inspector come to inspect your home for damage so that you can have a thorough report when filing a claim with your insurance company.
Hurricanes not only cause catastrophic damage to individual homes but also to the community development as a whole. A hurricane can cause downed power lines, which may take days, weeks, or even months to fix.
Fallen trees can block off roads, making evacuation routes difficult. Further, flooded streets can make driving impossible.
These community damages are common, which is why you must create a plan to address these types of potential damages.
If a hurricane caused damages to your property or caused you injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation based on the legal concept of premises liability. Premises liability is the requirement for homeowners or property owners to maintain the safety of their property so as to not harm others.
If a property owner fails to do so and allows others to be exposed to hazards, which causes injuries or damages, then they could potentially be held liable for those damages.
Hurricanes often leave properties without food, power, water, or even housing. Nursing homes are required to ensure the safety of their residents at all times during a hurricane. Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to do so, which can lead to a nursing home neglect lawsuit.
If you or a loved one was not properly protected while in a nursing home during a hurricane, you have legal rights. Nursing homes must have backup generators, procedures regarding evacuation, and other protocols to protect their residents during emergency situations.
As you can see from the hurricane risk data described above, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County are at extremely high risk for hurricanes during hurricane season.
The deadliest hurricanes to pass through Florida were:
The most well-known power company in Florida is the Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), whose parent company is NextEra Energy and is the biggest electric company in Florida. Other power companies include Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Company, and Gulf Power Company.
During a storm, you can report an outage, or check the status of a power outage on the company’s website. You can find FPL’s power outage information as well as where to report or track an outage here.
You can receive emergency alerts from FloridaDisaster.org’s Emergency Information center here!