Prepare for Hurricane Season With These 5 Tips
Hurricane season is a few months away, but you want to prepare your family and your property for the devastation that tropical storms sometimes cause. Preparing for torrential rains, gale-force winds, and flooding can take weeks, and you want to do everything in your power to get ready.
Many of your long-term efforts should focus on preparing your home and yard for hurricanes, as well as ensuring that you have the right supplies to get through the season. Below are five tips to help you prepare for the tropical storms that sweep through Florida each summer.
1. Prepare Your Yard
Each spring, you should schedule a consultation with your local arborist so he or she can verify that your trees are healthy and can withstand strong winds. Tree rot and disease, dead branches, and other health issues can weaken trees, especially their root systems. An arborist can ensure that your tree won’t be uprooted during the storm.
The arborist should also trim any branches that could break off and damage your home during a hurricane. You don’t want a heavy limb breaking off of one of your backyard trees and crashing into your home or car. Tree damage-and its resulting devastation-is one of the most expensive repairs homeowners face after a tropical storm.
Long before hurricanes arrive, you should have everything in your yard secured. Bring in lawn furniture, ornaments, potted plants, and tools, and store them in a safe location. Keep your bushes, vines, plants, and grass trimmed so that post-hurricane clean-up is easier.
2. Prepare Your Home
Your yard isn’t the only thing you should prepare. Your home may also need a little attention before the winds pick up.
Take an honest appraisal of your home and look for weak points. If you have an older home, you may want to reinforce, or even replace, your roof. You should ensure that you have storm windows and doors. If you have a basement, you should flood-proof it and install a pump if necessary.
Next, look for loose downspouts or rain gutters and secure them. Avoid water damage by unclogging pipes and removing debris so that your home and yard can drain properly.
You might also consider installing a generator for power outages. Your generator should be at least 20 feet away from doors and windows. Take measures to protect the appliance from moisture. You might also want to build a safe room or storm shelter-one that is enforced to protect you, your family, and your most prized possessions from the ravages of the storm.
During and after the storm, you may have to survive for an indeterminate amount of time without power. After you’ve prepared your yard and house, stock up on supplies and provisions so that you have what you need.
You should include the following items in your emergency preparedness kit:
Non-perishable foods (enough for each member of your family to eat comfortably for at least three days. Make sure that you have the supplies you need to prepare the food, such as a kerosene kit and matches)
Blankets and bedding
A fully-stocked first aid kid
Flashlights and batteries
A radio (to hear evacuation orders and other government-issued announcements) Cash
Paper copies of important family documents in plastic bags Tools
You don’t want to face an emergency unprepared. Keep your emergency preparedness kit in a safe place where it can’t be ruined by moisture or mice. Also remember to replace outdated supplies from time to time-an expired can of food won’t do you much good in an emergency.
4. Have a Plan
Your physical preparation is important, but don’t forget to communicate with your family about what to do if an emergency occurs. Hopefully, the worst damage the hurricane will cause is a short power outage and a few loose shingles. But if the situation becomes dangerous and the hurricane causes real problems, your family needs to know what to do.
Start by establishing your evacuation route. Your local government may recommend that your family evacuate to a safer location, and every member of your family should know the route and evacuation location. You should also talk about where to meet and when if you become separated.
Develop your family communication plan as well. If the power goes out and you can’t communicate with each other by phone, how will you get in contact? Decide how you’ll reach out to each other in an emergency.
5. Pack Your Evacuation Bag
Nothing is more important than you and your family’s safety, but you might have a few moments to grab and save a few possessions if you do need to evacuate. During an evacuation, you’ll need to leave quickly and won’t have time to go through the house, collecting items as you go.
Instead, create your evacuation bag and keep it in a safe, accessible place. Include important family pictures and photos, needed medication, and a change of clothes for each family member in the bag.
Begin preparing for hurricane season today. Pack your evacuation bag, create a family plan, and work on your emergency preparedness kit. And don’t forget to call your arborist and schedule your trimming and tree inspection.