With Hurricane Irma projected to arrive in north central Florida in the next few days, we know that many residents are looking for ways to protect their properties and families. As disaster restoration specialists, we wanted to offer our expertise as you prepare. We’ve pulled together 11 key steps to prevent damage and handle emergency situations to help you stay safe and secure this weekend.
- Be aware of the hurricane’s progress. Stay tuned to local forecasts, storm warnings, and hurricane trackers. By following the hurricane’s progress, you can make an informed decision of whether to evacuate your property, if necessary. Be ready to make this decision if you live in an area that could be flooded. If you live in a prefabricated house that isn’t sturdy enough to stand up to the wind, you should evacuate early to avoid the rush.
- Clear weak or dead tree limbs around your property. Loose branches pose a significant danger during high winds, which can blow them down and cause damage to your property. Make sure to dispose of any branches in a closed container.
- Secure and clear out your gutters. Hurricanes and tropical storms typically bring heavy rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding. Securing loose gutters and downspouts will also prevent them from being whipped out of place by winds.
- Shut and reinforce windows and doors. This will help protect against strong winds and rain, keeping the storm outside. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option, though not a last-minute one, is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. If you haven’t done this already, be sure to put it on your list in preparation for future storms. Don’t forget to secure any outside shed or garage doors as well.
- Clear your yard, porches, and patio. Make sure to safely store any outdoor furniture, grills, trash cans, bird feeders, hanging plants, kid’s toys – anything that high winds can pick up and use as a projectile. Playhouses, storage sheds, or any other outdoor structures should be anchored securely. If they are not already secured to a permanent foundation, you can use straps and ground anchors to keep them in place.
- Locate gas pilots and water mains. You will need to be able to find these and know how to safely shut off your utilities.
- Take photos or videos of the interior and exterior of your home and of your personal belongings. For insurance claims, it’s important to create a record of your personal property. This will help assist adjusters in case you need to file a claim. You can also create an itemized list of your furniture, clothing, and other valuables.
- Find and secure your important documents and insurance policies. If you don’t have time to access a safe deposit box, try to use a watertight box or make sure your documents are backed up online. If you plan on riding out the storm in your home, make sure you have a “safe room” inside the house.
- Put together a disaster supply kit. This kit should include a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate.
- Charge your cell phone now. The worst time to run down your battery is mid-storm, after your home has lost power.
- Know your local emergency service providers. In case of extensive damage to your home during a storm, it’s important to learn ahead of time who will be available to help. Look for licensed contractors in Gainesville, FL who specialize in restoration and provide all-hours service. Maven Construction Group provides these services to the north central Florida region, and can be reached 24/7.
For further information as you plan for Hurricane Irma, please see these emergency preparedness and response resources:
- Ready.gov is a great resource for making an emergency communication plan for your family.
- Here is a list of what to do after a hurricane.
- FEMA has a great download on how to prepare for a hurricane.
- Learn about your property’s projected flood risk.
- More than 20% of flood insurance claims come from people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas. Find some fast facts here on floods.
- Visit FEMA’s flood map service center to help you determine your flood risk.