Florida is no stranger to heavy tropical storms that can form off the east coast in the Atlantic or south in the Caribbean. Depending on the strength and size of a tropical storm, and whether or not it evolves into a hurricane, widespread damage may be inflicted across the city and the rest of the state. Dealing with the possibility of hurricanes is part of the price of living in the beautiful and temperate state of Florida.
The positive side of dealing with hurricanes is that they provide much more advance warning than most natural disasters. Hurricanes can be predicted and tracked up to a week before they make landfall on the Florida coast, along with a fairly accurate idea of what path they’ll end up taking through the state. This means that with proper preparation, the damage from a hurricane can be greatly mitigated and the safety of your family can be ensured. There are steps you can take and hints you can remember to help protect yourself, your family, and your property from some of the ravages of a tropical storm.
General Preparedness and Planning
- Each city in Florida will have a designated hurricane and tropical storm evacuation route. Learn yours as soon as possible and keep it a map outlining it somewhere you can access easily.
- It may also be helpful to record the location of nearby grocery stores, gas stations and hardware stores that are equipped with emergency generators.
- Create an emergency supply kid of nonperishable foods, water, first aid items, flashlights, a two-way radio, contact information and critical documents, and anything else you believe may be necessary in an emergency.
- Set up an emergency plan that your family should follow when a tropical storm is over your hometown. Everyone needs to know what to do if they are separated, even young children. Most emergency plans involve staying put and awaiting rescue.
Most of this information can be found at the local city or county website, usually under the “public safety” heading. In Palm Beach County, information on the location of emergency shelters for the season is found in the Logistics Directory.
Create a Supply Kit
- As far as non-perishable foods go, you want to have an array that covers the nutritional essentials: protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals.
- Canned tuna and meats like Spam are a good choice for protein as well as beef jerky. Beans provide dietary fiber and some more protein and carbs.Peanut butter provides fat and protein, along with all types of nuts. Crackers provide carbohydrates and can be paired with the meat and peanut butter. And honey provides a sweet treat that is naturally anti-microbial and will keep almost forever at room temperature.
- Essentials to have on hand include a good first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, all necessary hygiene items, a manual can opener, flashlights, matches or a butane lighter, dust masks and an emergency whistle.
- A solar charger can be useful for phones and digital devices, but be aware that cell phone towers may be knocked out during a storm.
- Some items for entertainment can also really help to keep people’s spirits up during an emergency, such as board games and books.
- Consider any special needs including medications, supplies for pets, baby formula and other necessities, mobility devices and aids for vision and hearing among other possibilities.
- Also, don’t forget to store some jugs of clean drinking water!
- Trim excess branches from trees near your property. Tropical storms can easily tear loose branches from trees and send them through your windows or walls.
- You can reduce water damage to your home by making certain rain gutters are in good condition before the storm hits. Clear out any clogs you find.
- Garage doors should also be reinforced. There are kits made for this purpose that can be kept on hand until necessary. They tend to run from about $150 for a single door to $300 for larger double-door kits.
- If you have a portable generator, you must keep it outside, protected from the elements, and at least 20 feet away from windows and doors to prevent noxious gas byproducts from entering your home. You must also never plug a portable generator directly into a wall socket to try to power your house, as this will likely cause an electrical fire.
Hurricane Watch and Warning
- If you are notified of a hurricane watch, it means that a strong tropical storm may be in your area within the next 48 hours.
- If you are notified of a hurricane warning, it means that a powerful tropical storm is expected to be in your area within the next 36 hours.
- After receiving notice of a hurricane watch or warning, review your emergency kits and emergency plans with family members. You should also take any lightweight objects that could become dangerous if swept up in a strong wind and secure them safely inside your home.
- Straps or ties should be prepared in advance for anything outside that cannot be brought inside once high winds start. Roof straps or clips also add an extra layer of structural security if it is possible to use them with your dwelling.
- Close all storm shutters and do not open them until the storm has officially passed. Consider using temporary plywood to seal windows if your home is not equipped with storm shutters.
During a Tropical Storm
- Unless you are in an evacuation warning area, you must stay where you are. If you are not at home, contact your loved ones if you can to let them know where you are.
- Charge your cellphones as soon as you can in case power goes out. You should also turn fridges and freezers to their coldest setting and do not open them unless absolutely necessary; this should keep perishable foods edible for longer.
- Turn on emergency radios once every 15 to 30 minutes to check for emergency broadcast updates. Unless you have plenty of spare batteries or a renewable power source, you should not leave electronic devices on for extended durations.
All residents of the state should follow these preparedness tips in order to be ready prior to a hurricane announcement, but it is especially important in coastal areas like Boca Raton. There are predictable runs on supplies when a hurricane announcement is made, so it’s best to have everything in place prior to the formation of tropical storms out over the ocean. For more information about tropical storm preparedness, you should visit www.ready.gov, a government website of the Department of Homeland Security that covers emergency preparedness in a variety of situations and natural disasters.
If you have to bunker down and endure a hurricane in your home, hopefully these preparation tips will help everyone to make it out safe and secure. Should you experience injury due to someone else’s negligence or the failure of a property owner to properly secure the premises, however, Shiner Law Group is always happy to serve as your Boca Raton personal injury lawyer and should you need us, contact us at 561-777-7700. Our experienced attorneys will fight for you, and our staff is always available to begin the process of reviewing your case.