Living in Florida has its perks – fun in the sun, plenty of activities, and great food. However, when a small tropical storm unexpectedly turns into a bloated, oversized monster of wind and rain, it’s important to be prepared. Below is a guide for what to do before, during, and after a hurricane to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.
Before a Hurricane:
- Build or restock an emergency preparedness kit. Key items to include are a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Bring in outdoor furniture or anything else that could be blown away by the wind.
- Have drinking water ready for use.
- Keep your primary vehicle in good working condition, and stock it with emergency supplies and a fresh change of clothes.
- Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. Consider building an emergency communication plan.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
During a Hurricane:
- Close storm shutters and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows can be dangerous.
- If you are outside, move to higher ground and do not walk, swim, or drive through floodwater.
- If power is lost, use a flashlight instead of candles to avoid fire risks.
- Turn your refrigerator or freezer to its coldest setting and open it only when necessary. This could help preserve your food supplies if you lose power.
- Watch or listen to a TV or radio for the latest weather updates or emergency instructions. Many city or county websites also supply updates every 30 minutes or so.
After a Hurricane:
- Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you over, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Avoid any floodwater that may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Floodwater could also be hiding dangerous debris and areas where the ground has washed away.
- Only return home when authorities indicate it is safe. Keep in touch with friends and family so they know you are safe.
- Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
- DO NOT directly connect your generator to your home’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a home’s wiring will “back feed” into power lines, which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or crews working to restore power.
- DO NOT run generators inside your home or garage, as they produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
- Keep generators away from all open windows, including neighbors’ windows, to prevent fumes from entering a home or business.
- Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous.
- Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
- Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
- DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water, or on damp ground.
- NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running. Hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
- Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.
Remember to always stay safe and listen to local authorities if they order an evacuation for your area.