Living in Florida is great! Fun in the sun, plenty to do and great food! But what happens when that small “no-name” tropical storm unexpectedly turns into a grumpy and bloated oversized monster of wind and rain… and it’s heading straight for you. You get ready, prepare your supplies, and help your friends and family do the same. Below is a guide for what to do before, during, and after a hurricane. Above all stay safe and listen to the local authorities if they order an evacuation for your area.
Before a Hurricane:
- Build or restock an emergency preparedness kit. Be sure to include key items like a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
- Bring in items, such as outdoor furniture, that the wind can blow away.
- Have drinking water ready for use.
- Be sure to keep your primary vehicle in good working condition and keep the gas tank full. Stock it with emergency supplies and a fresh change of clothes.
- Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power – even 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, as flying glass from broken windows could be dangerous.
- If you are outside, move to higher ground and do not walk, swim or drive through floodwater.
- If power is lost, be sure to use a flashlight. Using candles can pose an unnecessary fire risk.
- Turn your refrigerator or freezer to its coldest setting and open it only when necessary. If you lose power, this could help preserve your food supplies.
- Watch or listen to a TV or radio for the latest weather updates or emergency instructions. Many city or county websites also often 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. In addition, be extra vigilant as floodwater could be hiding dangerous debris and areas where the ground has washed away.
- Only return home when authorities indicate it is safe. Be sure to keep in touch with friends and family so they know that 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 the 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.