As Florida braces for Hurricane Irma, we thought it might be wise to review the most important precautions your family can take in preparation for a storm. Knowing what to do well before the storm comes ashore can make a huge difference in your comfort, health, safety and even survival.
While the phrase "batten down the hatches" stems from 19th century sailors who had to prepare a ship when rough seas were ahead, it really isn't so far off the mark in modern times, especially when it comes to hurricanes.
Here are a few hurricane safety tips for securing your home from damaging storms.
1. Cover every window
Permanent storm shutters are ideal, but if you don't have them already installed on your home and cannot do so, you can use exterior-grade or marine plywood to board them up. According to Ready.gov, tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
2. Bring in the outside
Bring inside any of your property that cannot be tied down. This includes garbage cans, plants, furniture and yard decor. Anything that can be securely tied down, do it. Otherwise, bring it inside.
3. Trim trees and shrubs
Keeping landscaping properly trimmed can increase their wind resistance, which is definitely a very good thing.
You should also stock up on your supplies and prepare for loss of electricity.
4. Install a generator
If you are able to, install a generator to provide temporary power.
5. Gather food and water
You should stockpile food and water to last at least three days. Water is the top priority, and a basic guideline is a gallon per person per day. Make sure you have canned or dry goods that do not require electricity to be prepared or refrigeration to be stored. Also keep a manual can opener on hand.
6. Keep your cellphones charged
Also have a battery-powered charger on hand for when they do eventually die. You don't want to risk going out to your car to use a car charger during a hurricane.
7. Get a battery-powered (or wind-up) radio
Access to a radio will help you keep up on the storm's progress and rapidly changing conditions.
You also need to take note of your surroundings.
8. Know the lay of your land
If your property is low-lying or prone to flooding, you'll have a better idea of when to evacuate if a storm surge or tidal flooding is predicted.
9. Take note of nearby levees and dams
These may pose a threat to you in the event of a hurricane.
10. Know your shelters
If you do have to evacuate, know in advance where the nearest high-ground shelter is, and have a plan to reach it. You can search American Red Cross shelters or search by your state and county for those nearby.
Even though hurricanes are scary, it can be a huge benefit to be prepared, to have a plan and to know where to go in the event that things go badly in a hurry. It can turn a frightening situation into an experience that may not be much of a good time, but less terrifying and dangerous than it could be.