Hurricane season is less than a month away and now is the time to make sure you are prepared. This week has been designated as hurricane preparedness week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. I want to remind you of several things to keep you and your family safe as we approach the hurricane season.
The first thing I want to talk about is determining your risk. Threats from hurricanes can vary widely depending on where you live. Now is the time to evaluate what you need to do to protect your home and family. Hurricanes bring certain hazards to coastlines and others to inland areas. Storm surge is a big impact along the coast and inland flooding causes a big problem for inland areas. Other hazards are tornadoes, strong wind, rip currents, and large waves.
Next, make sure you have an evacuation plan. The first thing you need to do is figure out what evacuation zone you are in. Our website has an easy way to determine that just by typing your address in. You can find this at https://www.fox4now.com/weather/hurricane-center. You need to know if your home would be unsafe in a hurricane. If you're told to evacuate, you need to know where you would go and how you would get there if told to evacuate. You may choose to leave the state, but you could find a person or family member who doesn't live in an evacuation zone or an unsafe home. If you choose to go to a shelter make sure you call ahead to see if they accept pets. WIth Covid-19 present listen to local officials on questions related to how you may need to adjust any evacuation plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC.
It may take several hours for a hurricane to move through your area, but the effects could last much longer. Not only do you need enough supplies to make it through the hurricane, but you may need them for a much longer period of time until power returns and it is safe go travel on roadways. Water and electricity could be out several weeks so make sure you have enough non-perishable foods, water, and medicine for AT LEAST one week if not two. Make sure you have extra cash, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, and a portable crank or solar powered USB charger to charge your cell phone. If you go to a public shelter bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person. Hand sanitizer is also a plus to bring with you.
Now is a good time to call your insurance company to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or replace your home. Standard homeowners insurance DOES NOT include flooding! Flood insurance requires a 30 day waiting period so find a separate flood policy at floodsmart.gov.
If you're planning on staying at home during the storm there are things you can do to strengthen your home. Make sure its up to local hurricane building code specifications. Use proper plywood, steel, or aluminum panels to board up windows and doors or install hurricane shutters. The garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home so it must be able to withstand high wind.
There are many ways you can help your neighbors after a hurricane, but also before one arrives. Many people, especially senior citizens rely on assistance from neighbors to collect supplies they will need before a storm. You may assist in helping them to evacuate and when its safe to do so, check on them after the storm passes if they choose to stay in place.
It may be hard to remember everything you need to do if a storm is approaching so I suggest writing down your hurricane plan. Having a written plan will take the guesswork out of what you need to do to protect you and your family. Know where you will go and where you will get your supplies now. Many people wait until a hurricane watch or even warning is issued for their area. In this case lines are long and many essential items may be sold out!
Be prepared NOW. Whether this year is an active or non-active season, remember it only takes one storm to change your life.