Florida’s prime tropical location has many benefits. The sun, the sand, the surf—what’s not to love? Our area’s relaxed atmosphere and environment make it a great place to vacation or stay for a lifetime. Many locals know that our sunshine state comes with some downsides which can include hurricanes. By staying thoroughly prepared, you can effectively manage the effects of these storms. Follow these tips for ways to keep your family safe this hurricane season.
Create an Evacuation Plan
If your area is ordered to evacuate, you should leave as early as possible to avoid possible traffic congestion. Devising a plan is imperative for your family. Ask yourself, how will you communicate during the storm? Where will you meet if you are separated? Which route will you take? Does your local shelter accept all pets or only service animals? Will any of your elderly neighbors need rides? These are all things to consider when developing your family’s emergency preparedness plan. Share the plan with family members digitally so everyone has access to it while they’re on the move.
Keep Storm Supplies Stocked Year-Round
Don’t wait until the last minute to grab water, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits and nonperishable food. Shelves may be empty or you may have to wait in long lines to purchase what you need. Instead, create a food supply to keep in stock year-round along with a two-week supply of water. Each person in your household needs at least one gallon of water per day, including pets. Keep more water in stock for pregnant women or anyone who is ill. Take note of expiration dates on store-bought water. Replace non-store bought water in supply every six months.
Make Sure Your Home Is In Tip Top Shape
Give your house a storm checkup. Be sure to look for roof leaks or other structural flaws that may become more severe or compromised if faced with hurricane force winds. Before a storm, clean out your gutters and drains, board up your windows and place sandbags at entry points around your home. The City offers sand and bags to residents free of charge. Check the City website before a storm for distribution locations.
Check Your Flood Insurance Coverage
Your home can flood regardless of where you live, even if it's not near water. Before Hurricane Irma, Florida residents called their insurance companies to add flood coverage to their policies, only to learn that it can take up to 30 days for it to go into effect. Add protection early and check your home's risk of flooding by entering your address at www.floodsmart.gov.
Make Copies of Important Documents
Store print copies in waterproof containers or create password protected digital copies of important documents. Take pictures of your valuables along with their serial numbers and upload those as well. You may need to have these files on hand when submitting claims to prove ownership of your house, car, boat, computer and other valuables.
Gather Prescription Medicine
Have more than just a couple days of prescription medicine on hand. Some pharmacies will remain closed for weeks after a hurricane. Also, check on elderly or ill neighbors to verify they have an adequate supply of medication.
Know Where to Find Storm Information
If you have questions before, during and after a storm, it's important to know whom to contact in the event something happens during a hurricane. Although your address may be listed as Altamonte Springs, you might actually fall under Seminole County’s jurisdiction. To find out, enter your address at the Seminole County Property Appraiser website (www.SCPAFL.org). This will help you determine whether you call the City or county for assistance.
- National Hurricane Center
- Seminole County Office of Emergency Management
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Department of Homeland Security