Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

June 1 begins the Atlantic hurricane season. In case you haven’t been keeping track, we’re almost there. As the hurricane season approaches, it’s important for individuals and families living in hurricane-prone areas to prepare adequately. While the thought of an impending hurricane can be intimidating, preparing well in advance can significantly mitigate risks and reduce the stress associated with such natural disasters. At Better Protectors, we like to say that preparation leads to confidence and that’s the opposite of fear. Here are some steps you can take to help you and your loved ones remain safe and sound.

Understand the Risks

Start by understanding the specific risks associated with hurricanes in your area. This involves knowing your community’s evacuation routes and local hurricane shelter locations. Check if your home is in a flood zone and consider what the storm surge could mean for your neighborhood. Knowledge is a powerful tool in disaster readiness.

It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t apply only to hurricanes. Tropical storms can pose significant dangers, especially in coastal and flood-prone areas.

Watch or Warning: The Difference

As part of your hurricane preparedness, it’s important to understand the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. This knowledge can significantly affect your decisions and actions as a storm approaches.

Hurricane Watch

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or higher) are possible within your area. Typically, a watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm-force winds. This alert serves as a heads-up for possible hurricane conditions and means you should begin final preparations to protect your life and property. If you are not fully prepared, this is the time to finalize your plans and prepare your home and safety kit.

Hurricane Warning

A hurricane warning, on the other hand, indicates that hurricane conditions are expected within your area. Warnings are usually issued 36 hours in advance of tropical storm-force winds to give people enough time to complete their storm preparations and leave the area if directed by local officials. When a warning is issued, it’s time to execute your hurricane plan, secure your home, and evacuate if instructed by local authorities.

Develop an Emergency Plan

Communication can become challenging during a hurricane. Create an emergency plan and share it with everyone in your household. Make sure everyone knows:

  • How to contact one another if separated. (Remember, cell phones may not work)
  • The evacuation route to take.
  • The location of the nearest emergency shelter.

Keep a copy of the emergency plan in a place where everyone can easily access it, and practice the plan with your household to ensure everyone knows what to do when a hurricane warning is issued.

Build an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is a fundamental aspect of hurricane preparedness. This kit should include:

Keep your kit in a designated place and have it ready during hurricane season in case you have to leave your home quickly.

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Comfort Items

You may find yourself without power for a while, so there are a few things you can have on hand to make it a little more comfortable. Some of those things could be:

Secure Your Home

Take the time early in hurricane season to secure your home from potential hurricane damage:

  • Trim trees and shrubs around your home to minimize the risk of wind-borne debris.
  • Secure loose gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas to prevent water damage.
  • Install storm shutters to protect windows. Alternatively, board up windows with 5/8 inch exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. (Pro Tip: Have your materials BEFORE a hurricane watch is issued)

Stay Informed

Staying informed is vital during a hurricane. Keep track of the latest weather updates and emergency instructions via a trusted news source. Ensure your mobile devices are charged and functional. Consider buying a power bank to keep your devices charged during a power outage. Sign up for alerts from your local weather stations and emergency services.

Car

Don’t forget about your car. Make sure it is in good condition, including your tires and windshield wipers. Fill your tank ahead of the storm and get fuel for your generator while you are at it.

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Protecting Special Needs and Pets

If you have family members with special needs or pets, make additional preparations:

  • Ensure there is enough medication and supplies to last for several days after the hurricane passes.
  • Create a pet emergency kit with food, water, and other supplies.

Check Your Insurance

It’s a good idea to review your insurance policies before hurricane season begins. Check that your home and possessions are adequately covered against damage from hurricanes. Understand your policy details and how to file a claim. This step can give you peace of mind and aid in a quicker recovery if your property is damaged.

Tax Holiday

We’re based in Florida and the state has tax holidays scheduled to help you prepare for hurricane season. During these time periods, items that help improve your readiness have no sales tax. Items like portable generators or batteries aren’t a surprise. But many pet-related items, like food, cat litter or travel carriers are also included. You can view the Florida dates and list here.

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Some Closing Thoughts

While hurricanes are powerful and unpredictable, taking proactive steps to prepare can significantly reduce the impact on your life and property. By planning ahead and taking action now, you can ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe. Remember, preparation is not just about survival during a hurricane; it’s about maintaining comfort and safety throughout the ordeal, including afterward. Let’s stay prepared and protect what matters most.

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