Hurricanes are strong storms that cause life and property threatening hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes.
Above all remain calm, keep yourself organized and preparation is the best protection for your family against the dangers of a hurricane.
Know the Difference:
Hurricane Watch—Hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Review your hurricane plans, keep informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued.
Hurricane Warning—Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.
What you need to get ~ Family of 2 Adults & 2 Children, 1 dog & 1 Cat
Food and water
- 20 gallons of water
- 20 cans or jars of tuna, chicken, ham, soup, stew, chili or beans
- 10 cans of fruit (get the ones packed in juice, not in syrup)
- 10 cans of vegetables
- For babies, get five days worth of baby food in jars or pre-mixed formula.
- Powdered, evaporated or UHT boxed milk
- Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
- Peanut butter, jelly and/or honey
- Powdered drink mixes, fruit juices, vegetable juices, soft drinks
- Bouillon cubes
- Non-perishable pudding and gelatin
- Cookies, crackers, chips
- Small boxes of dry cereal
- Bread, muffins, bagels
- Condiments, including ketchup, mustard, onions, garlic, oil and vinegar. Virtually any condiment can spice up canned vegetables
- Hard candy
- 5 pounds of dry dog food or 10 cans of wet dog food.
- 5 pounds of dry cat food or 10 cans of wet cat food.
- 20 gallon-size freezer bags (for freezing water before the storm and keeping items dry)
- 2 gallons household bleach (without lemon scent). For cleaning and purifying water.
- 1 hand-operated can opener
- 60 sets of plastic cutlery (fork/spoon/knife)
- 100 paper plates
- 28 contractor cleanup trash bags, at least 3 mil thickness, 42-gallon or larger
- 3 rolls of toilet paper
- 40 diapers or overnight pants, and ointment. (Even if your toddler is toilet trained, young children sometimes regress in stressful situations).
- 8 flashlights with extra batteries (1 per person, 1 per vehicle and two in the house)
- 1 battery-operated lantern with extra batteries
- Battery-powered radio or digital television, with extra batteries
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches: Wooden kitchen matches are best. Keep them dry in a plastic bag or a plastic film container
- 1 old-fashioned clothesline with clothespins
- 2 gas cans
- Copies of important documents: Homeowners insurance, deed, life insurance, Social Security cards, driver’s license, bank statements, and your will
- Tools: Hammer, nails, tarp, ax, crowbar, screwdrivers, battery-powered drill with screwdriver bits; knife, handsaw.
- Duct tape and masking tape
- Ice Chest or Cooler
- Keep all items in a waterproof container:
- 1 First-aid manual.
- 1 box of sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes.
- Sterile gauze pads and roller bandages in a variety of sizes.
- 1 roll hypoallergenic adhesive tape.
- Scissors and tweezers.
- Needle, for sewing and removing splinters.
- 2 bars of soap in their own plastic bags or waterproof containers.
- 80 moist towelettes.
- Antiseptic spray.
- 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide.
- 1 bottle rubbing alcohol.
- 1 bottle iodine.
- 1 thermometer.
- 1 jar petroleum jelly to relieve itching.
- 1 tube ointments for burns and cuts.
- Various sizes of safety pins.
- 1 box latex gloves.
- Aspirin, acetaminophen and antacid tablets.
Special medical needs
- Arrangements should be made early for family members who are elderly, disabled or in need of special medical care.
- Individuals receiving home health care, scheduled treatments such as dialysis or chemotherapy, or using medical equipment that requires electricity should check with their doctors or providers to see what accommodations will be made in the event of a storm.
- Special Medical Needs shelters can provide help for people with minor health problems who need help taking medicine or who need help with personal care. Evacuation transportation is also available.
- To apply for or learn more about these services, call Broward County Human Services at 954-357-6385 (or TTY 954-357-5608); Palm Beach County Emergency Management at (516) 712-6400; or 305-513-7700.
For children and students
- Talk to your children about hurricanes in advance. A crash course when a storm is approaching may cause panic.
- Explain to your children that hurricanes can be destructive and dangerous, but they can stay safe with precaution and preparation.
- Talk to children about the disruptions of a hurricane; they can leave families without electricity or running water; schools might close and they might have to stay indoors or eat different foods.
- Help children mark on a map where hurricanes are likely to strike, and where they live in the hurricane zone.
- Experts also recommend that children carry proper identification as a storm approaches. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has recommended children carry a photo ID in a waterproof bag. The IDs should include name, address, birth date, medical information and home phone number. Also include phone numbers of relatives, in and out of state. Several organizations offer photo IDs for free or minimal cost. Check with your local law enforcement agency. The center’s website, www.missingkids.com, also offers advice. On the left-side box, click on “Natural Disasters.” It’s also recommended that parents carry current photos of their children, especially during evacuations. Give relatives outside the area (or other emergency contacts) photos, dates of birth, medical and other essential information.
- To notify parents of a closing, the Broward School District will use multiple methods to reach parents, including Facebook, Twitter, the district’s website and, if necessary, its automated phone system. Some schools also will email or text parents. Parents should check the district website, http://www.browardschools.com and also can call a rumor control hotline, 754-321-0321. District officials say it’s “vitally important” that parents keep their personal information up to date with the schools, including addresses and phone numbers.
- The Palm Beach County School District also will activate its emergency hotline for parents, at 561-357-7500 or 866-930-6001. The district’s website, palmbeachschools.org, will be updated with new information, and the district will use an automated call system to relay information before and following the storm.
For information about college campus closings or evacuations, check the campus websites for information or hotlines. Those include:
- Broward College: www.broward.edu
- Florida International University: www.fiu.edu
- Nova Southeastern University: www.fau.edu
- Florida Atlantic University: www.fau.edu.
- FAU also has an information hotline for each of its campuses, including Boca Raton, Jupiter, Fort Lauderdale and Davie. The hotline numbers are:
- Boca Raton: 561-297-2020
- Broward: 954-236-1800
- Jupiter: 561-799-8020
- Treasure Coast: 772-873-3330
- Be sure your pets have proper identification. Tags increase the chance of an owner-pet reunion after a storm.
- Get a two-week supply of any medications.
- If you’re going to board your pet, call kennels now and get information about admission requirements. Ask if the facility is in a flood zone, if they have and evacuation plan, and ask whether a person will be staying with the animals during the storm.
- If you are leaving town with your pet, bring along a collar with identification, a familiar towel or blanket, food, a leash and medications. Call hotels on your route in advance to see if they take pets.
- There is a pet-friendly shelter in each of South Florida’s three counties. You must register in advance and show proof you live in a mandatory evacuation zone or mobile home in that county. Those who registered last year must sign up again this year. Pet-friendly shelters do not accept reptiles or livestock. Owners usually sleep in a different part of the facility than their pets.
- Shelters require: proof of rabies vaccination; name, address and phone number of the pet’s veterinarian, and a current photo of the pet. Check for other specifics.
- Broward County: The pet-friendly shelter is at Millennium Middle School, at 5803 NW 94th Ave. in Tamarac. Pre-registration can be in person or by mail and is handled through the Humane Society, 2070 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale.Call 954-266-6828 for more information or an application.
- Palm Beach County: There is a pet-friendly shelter at West Boynton Recreation Center, 6000 Northtree Blvd. in Lake Worth. Call 561-233-1266 or go to http://www.pbcgov.com/animal for an application and more information.
- Miami-Dade County: There are two pet-friendly shelters: One in the Sunshine Pavilion on the grounds of the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition grounds, 10900 SW 24th St., and one at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High, 1410 NE 215th St., North Miami. Go to www.miamidade.gov/animals or call 786-331-5354.
For your car
- Fill the tank with gasoline. Check oil, water levels.
- Store your car in garage or carport.
- If you’re in a flood-prone area, move your car to higher ground.
- If you must leave your car outdoors, park next to a building, away from trees or poles that may topple onto it. Cover your car.
- Stay out of your car, and off the roads, during a hurricane.
- After the storm, avoid driving through large puddles. You could damage your:
- Engine intake system. Water in the intake system ultimately gets into the pistons, which are designed to compress air. But water doesn’t compress, and the resulting pressure inside the engine can bend piston rods or crack the engine block. Either essentially ruins the engine.
- Transmission. Water makes the gears slip.
- Brakes. If the rotors are very hot, exposure to water can warp them. The result is your car will vibrate when you try to brake, particularly at higher speeds. In addition, water may get into the brake lines andcause brake failure immediately or later, when you least expect it.
- Interiors. Water in the driver and passenger compartment ruins carpets, upholstery and the foam in the seats.
- Electronic systems. Many manufacturers install automobile computers in the floorboards and under the seats. Water damage to these components can result in all sorts of electrical and electronic problems.
If your car is flooded, here are some tips:
Check with your insurance agent to verify extent of coverage before repairs begin.
- If your car stalled because of flooding, have a mechanic look at it before you restart it. A car may start up after a dousing, but problems with certain systems water in brake lines for instance may not show up until later, and cause dangerous failures while you�re driving.
- The engine, transmission, brakes and power steering are the most vulnerable systems. Electrical systems also are extremely subject to damage and water-sensitive components may need to be replaced.
- At the very least, oil and filters need to be changed; the oil pan is usually the lowest portion of an engine, and water may have seeped in.
- If you clean the wet interior of a car yourself, take out all the carpeting and let it dry thoroughly. Damp carpet left in cars can cause rust months later. Keep in mind that some parts of a car are virtually inaccessible to the average car owner. Door locks, window regulators, wiring harnesses and heating and air conditioning components often are tucked into small spaces and can fail later.
- Restoring a car severely damaged by flood may not be cost-effective. Check the market value of your car against the estimated repair bill before authorizing any work on the vehicle.
For your boat
- Boat owners have several options during a storm: smaller boats can be taken out of the water and stored in a boatyard or a residential backyard, left in some marinas if prepped correctly, or secured on a river or canal far from the coast.
- “For a large percentage of people living in Fort Lauderdale, this is really something to think about,” said Erik Rimblas, regional vice president of boating superstore West Marine.
- If left unprotected, boats not only are likely to be damaged, but can also cause damage to neighboring boats or the marina.
- “The problem with Florida is that a lot of boats don’t get prepped because the owners are from out of state,” said Bob Adriance, technical director with BoatU.S., a marine insurance company based in Alexandria, Va.
- Smaller, open boats and high-performance power boats with low freeboards have the best chance of surviving a storm if taken out of the water, according to a BoatU.S. hurricane guide.
- The best way to store a boat on land is to leave it on a trailer or placing it on jack stands and cradles. Either way, the boat should be tied down to the ground or trees with lines and stakes, Rimblas said.
- Removing the air from trailer tires and filling the boat partially with water is another option to help weigh it down.
- But not all vessels can be pulled out of the water easily.
- Boats and yachts greater than 30 feet can stay in a marina or tie off in a canal.
- If a boat comes loose and hits another boat or a dock, or damages other property, uninsured owners may be liable.
- Ideally, boats should be placed in the middle of a canal and be tied off to the sea walls on both sides. Multiple lines should be used to create a “spider web” effect. The more line used, the more secure the boat is, Rimblas said.
- Professionals advise using up to three times more than the normal amount line when tying up a boat at a dock or in a canal to account for the storm surge. This means there should be some slack in the line to account for the extra pull during a surge.
- Some marinas require boats to leave the property if a major storm is approaching. If a boat is allowed to stay in a marina, it should be properly secured with lines, just like as if it were in a canal.
- The many bridges that cross Fort Lauderdale waterways may be in the locked down position and closed to boat traffic three and half hours after an evacuation order is given or when winds reach 40 mph. This can be up to a day before a hurricane makes landfall.
For your outdoor area
- Hurricane season is a good time to get rid of any extra junk you may have collected in your yard or patio over the last year.
- The less debris you have in your yard now, the less you’ll have to deal with when the storm is coming.
- Once we’re under the threat of a hurricane, prepare the outside of your house by:
- Bringing in or tying down anything that could blow around: toys, bicycles, garbage cans, patio furniture, gas grills, trellises, potted plants.
- Even heavy items get thrown around in a hurricane.
- If you have a satellite dish, take it down.
- Remove turbine vents on the roof and replace with metal caps. Secure or remove loose tiles or shingles.
- Close shutters, lash down awnings or mount plywood across your windows and sliding glass doors, including the garage door.
- Identify the points to shut off the water, gas and electricity. Shut them off if you have to evacuate.
- Get the trees trimmed
- Tree trimming should be done early in the season, before we’re in danger of getting hit with high winds.
- Even if your trees don’t need full-scale pruning, you should trim sprouts and dead, diseased or crossed branches.
- Bad practices, such as lopping off the top of a large tree, which causes excessive sprouting of weakly attached new branches, or excessive “lifting,” which means removing too many lower branches, causes trees to become top heavy and more dangerous in storms.
- Any tree trimmer or arborist you hire should be licensed and insured. Avoid hiring somebody who just comes to your door with a pickup truck and a saw.
- During the trimming job, seed pods, nuts, coconuts and anything that might fly around during a hurricane should be removed.
Taking care of your pool
- There are several steps you should take to prepare your pool before a storm hits.
- The No. 1 rule: Do not empty your pool.
- Sufficient water levels provide weight to hold a pool in place when heavy rains raise the local water table.
- Experts say to lower the level by one to two feet.
- If there is substantial rain, the level of groundwater can be raised by the rainfall and the pool empty is like a boat.
- If you drain the pool it may float. The weight of the water is what keeps the pool in the ground.
- Shut down the pump and motor, at the breaker box if possible, and cover them with plastic to prevent them from being drenched.
- Experts recommend that you “super chlorinate,” or put extra chlorine in the pool water. This can prevent impurities from building up.
- Damage to the frame of an enclosed screen can be reduced by removing panels to allow a vent for wind to escape.
- Remove all loose items, pool equipment, toys and furniture from the pool. The furniture can crack the pool finish.
As the storm approaches
- Check prescriptions and other medical supplies. If you don’t have enough, go to the pharmacy now.
- Top off your food supplies. You should need only perishable goods to complement your staples and canned goods. If you don’t have your staples, get them right away.
- Check the first-aid kit. Replenish missing items.
- Stock your safe place – the strongest, inside room of your house – with a first-aid kit, small supply of food and water, flashlight, games for the kids, blankets and a mattress.
- Fill clean containers with water.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings. Start freezing plastic gallon-size freezer bags and/or 2-liter soda bottles filled with water. Don’t open the refrigerator unless you absolutely must. A portable ice chest can be used to keep extra food and beverages cool.
- Identify where to shut off electricity, water and gas.
- Unplug all electrical appliances that you don’t need at this point. Cover computers and other electronics with plastic bags.
- Put valuables and documents, including a list of possessions, in a waterproof container. Place a videotape or photographs of valuables in there, too.
- Bring in pets. Make sure they have a two-week supply of food and are wearing identification.
- Collect some basic tools: pliers, screwdrivers, socket wrenches, a hammer, etc. Put them all in one place.
- Make sure everyone knows where the fire extinguisher is.
- Charge your cellphones.
- Get cash from the ATM
- Review with family members escape routes out of the house, and meeting places in case you get separated.
Amy Vulpis is a full-time real estate professional with Balistreri Realty International, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, FL who specializes in luxury waterfront property. She is dedicated to providing her clients with the finest customer service available. For more information on the Florida Real Estate market contact Amy Vulpis, Realtor @ 954.591.4280 or visit www.amyvulpis.com.