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GETTING READY FOR A HURRICANE

INTRODUCTION

This guide is a compilation of the best advice from experts such as the National Hurricane Center, American Red Cross and Emergency Management Offices.

Experts believe the best way to cope with a hurricane is to prepare a plan in advance. In addition, you must be able to separate myths from facts.

WHAT IS A HURRICANE

A hurricane is a type of tropical storm with strong winds circulating around an extreme low-pressure area. When wind speed reaches 74 miles per hour, the storm is officially classified as a HURRICANE.

A hurricane's spiraling wind and rain bands can extend hundreds of miles from its eye. As the storm approaches land, tornadoes may form around its outer edges.

The most dangerous part of a hurricane is the storm surge, the large dome of water that floods the coast as the storm makes landfall. This surge is the greatest threat to life. Even if the storm strikes at low tide, the water level might reach as high as 20 feet at the shoreline. Flooding is also caused by heavy rains as the hurricane moves inland.

Most hurricanes start in the tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Although "hurricane season" runs from June 1st to November 30th, most hurricanes strike I August, September and October.

HURRICANE-RELATED TERMS

TROPICAL DISTURBANCE: An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms without a defined circulation.

TROPICAL STORM: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.

HURRICANE WARNING: Hurricane conditions are expected in 24-36 hours. You should complete all hurricane preparations. Follow evacuation instructions from local officials. Leave immediately after an evacuation notice is issued to avoid delays.

HURRICANE WATCH: Hurricane conditions are possible within 36-48 hours. You should begin preliminary preparations to protect life and property. Stay tuned to radio and TV for weather updates.

SAFFIR/SIMPSON HURRICANE SCALE

The severity of hurricanes is rated using the Saffir/Simpson scale. This scale assigns a storm to one of five categories based on its wind speed. Category one is a minimal hurricane and category five is the strongest. Using this scale helps estimate the potential property damage and expected coastal flooding from a hurricane.

Categories Wind Speed
1 74-95 mph
2 96-110 mph
3 111-130 mph
4 131-155 mph
5 155 + mph

PRE-HURRICANE PLANNING

Before hurricane season begins, experts agree that one of the best things to do is prepare a family hurricane plan - an outline that specifies what every member of the family will do before, during and after a hurricane.

Some general guidelines for preparing your family hurricane plan are:

  • Find out if you live in an evacuation zone.
  • Call your local emergency information center.
  • Decide in advance where your family will stay during a hurricane - at home, a friend's home, a shelter or a hotel. Pick a back-up location in case there is a problem with your first choice. Make sure everyone knows the location, address and phone number.
  • Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to be your emergency contact, and make sure everyone knows that person's phone number. Tell your contact person where you will be during the hurricane.
  • Make arrangements for those with special needs.
  • Talk to your employer about whether you will have to work in the event of a hurricane. If so, decide who will pick up the children from school.
  • Practice and review your plan.

A hurricane supply kit should be put together long before a hurricane threatens your area.

The following are procedures that should be followed for Y2K-related emergencies:

HURRICANE SUPPLY KIT CHECKLIST

Have a TWO WEEKS supply of each item for each person in your home.

WATER

  • Seven gallons of water per person (1/2 gallon for drinking and 2 gallon for bathing, tooth brushing, etc.).
  • Store water in clean, plastic containers.

FOOD

Purchase foods that require no refrigeration and little preparation such as:

  • Ready-to-eat canned food
  • Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
  • Soft drinks, instant coffee and tea.
  • Lots of ice (You can freeze your water supply.)

BABY

  • Formula, bottles, powdered milk, jarred baby foods
  • Diapers, moist towelettes and special medications

PETS

  • Newspapers or cat litter for your pet's sanitary needs
  • Moist canned foods in order to preserve water
  • Plastic sheets to cover the floor of pet's room

MEDICINE

  • First aid kit, rubbing alcohol
  • Aspirin, non-aspirin pain reliever and antacid
  • Extra prescription medication (especially for those with heart problems and diabetics)
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist how to store prescription medication.

PERSONAL ITEMS

  • Toilet paper, towels, soap, shampoo
  • Personal and feminine hygiene products
  • Denture needs, contact lenses and an extra pair of eye glasses
  • Sun protection, insect repellent

OTHER SUPPLIES

  • Battery-operated radio, flashlights, non-electric can opener, extra batteries
  • Charcoal, waterproof matches, extra propane for gas grills (Use grills outside only.)**
  • ABC-rated fire extinguisher in a small canister
  • Portable cooler
  • Plenty of absorbent towels, plastic trash bags
  • Wind-up or battery-operated clock
  • Tarp or sheet plastic, duct tape, hammer and nails (for temporary roof repairs)
  • Cleaning supplies such as chlorine bleach
  • Aluminum foil, paper napkins and plates, plastic cups.
  • Can of spray paint (can be used to identify your home for insurance adjusters in case it's damaged)**
  • ** These items can cause fires and shouldn't be stored inside the house.

CLOTHING/BEDDING

  • At least one change of clothing per person, sturdy shoes, hat and work gloves
  • Blankets and pillows or sleeping bags

YOUR HOME

Complete this checklist before hurricane season:

  • Learn the elevation of your area and find out if you're in an evacuation zone.
  • Make a list of loose items outside your home that should be put inside or tied down such as garbage cans, plants, etc. Don't forget the TV antenna. Urge neighbors to do the same.
  • Trim trees and bushes before hurricane season. Excess limbs can break windows and damage roofs.
  • Install hurricane shutters that meet building code requirements.
  • Inspect the roof for loose tiles or shingles and debris.
  • The main electric breaker, water valve and gas valve may need to be shut off. Know their locations.
  • Photograph or videotape your home and personal property.

MOBILE HOMES

A mobile home is vulnerable to wind and water damage during a hurricane. Although you must leave your mobile home before a storm, you can plan ahead to minimize property damage.

  • Check with the county zoning office to ensure that the mobile home is installed to code.
  • Check mobile home tie-downs for rust or breakage.
  • Consider an inspection by local building officials.
  • Know where to evacuate to.

APARTMENTS/CONDOS

Residents of high-rise buildings should be aware that winds are stronger at higher elevations.

  • If you live on a high floor, and your building is outside the evacuation zone, you should relocate to the third floor or below.
  • Condo owners should get hurricane shutters for all sliding glass doors and windows.
  • Renters you are responsible for securing your area. Follow home-safety hurricane procedures, such as installing shutters.
  • Buy renters or condo insurance for all personal property.
  • Make sure the condo association has adequate insurance.
  • Appoint floor captains to check on residents with special needs before and after a storm.
  • \Know the route to the nearest stairs. (Elevators may not work during and after a storm.)

EVACUATION PLANNING

It's important to plan an evacuation route before the storm hits. Only people in evacuation areas and/or vulnerable structures should evacuate, so as not to clog major highways.

  • Decide where you'll stay and what route you'll take. It's best to stay at a protected dwelling inland within your county.
  • If you live alone, consider "teaming-up" with a neighbor to work out an evacuation plan.
  • If you must go to a shelter, stay tuned to the radio or TV for shelter information. Shelter locations may change.
  • If someone in your home requires special attention or medical care, contact your County's "Special Needs Centers". Call your emergency management office for instructions.

SHELTER SUPPLY KIT

Supply kit items should be stored in easy to carry containers, such as a backpack or duffle bag. The following items are recommended by American Red Cross.

  • Bottled water and packaged food
  • Non-electric can opener and battery powered radio
  • Change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes
  • Blankets and pillows
  • First aid kit, prescription medicine, and toiletries
  • Cards, games and books
  • Eyeglasses
  • One flashlight per person, extra batteries
  • Credit cards, cash and identification
  • Extra set of car keys and a list of family physicians
  • Special items for kids include: baby supplies, games and toys, favorite food, coloring books and crayons.

PETS

Check with your veterinarian about whether you need to take any special precautions especially with an exotic or sick pet.

  • Shelters do not accept pets. If you're going to board your pet, make arrangements immediately with local kennels.
  • Call your veterinarian or the Humane Society for a list of kennels.
  • Pets should have collars with current identification and rabies tags. All yearly vaccinations should be administered.
  • Don't tranquilize your pets.

BOATS

Boats are vulnerable during a hurricane. You can minimize damage by following these safety precautions:

  • Make sure your boat is watertight and in sound condition. Absentee owners should arrange a supervised inspection.
  • If you keep your boat on a trailer, check with the manufacturer about the best way to secure your boat during a storm.
  • Consider moving arrangements in advance. Check the size and strength of the deck hardware (primary chocks, cleats, bitts, bollards, winches). Hurricane moorings should have double lines.
  • Purchase necessary hurricane materials such as additional mooring lines, crew anchors, fenders, fender boards, chafing gear and anchors.
  • Check your marina contract for policies and procedures for hurricane conditions. Most require evacuation.
  • Ask local marine and law enforcement agencies for evacuation plans. Bridges over waterways may be locked down for land evacuation routes.
  • If you plan to seek safe harbor inland, remember that water management officials discourage using the Miami River or drainage canals. Boats may damage or block flood control devices.
  • Know your route if you plan to evacuate by boat. Be aware of navigation requirements and restrictions along the route. NOTE: Marine experts say that you should move your boat at least 48 hours before a hurricane is expected to hit the area.
  • Rehearse your boat movement plan.
  • Make sure your insurance policy is current.
  • Record and keep your boat's registration number, description and location with you.
  • Keep current photographs or videos of your boat.
    For more information on marine-related issues, call your local Emergency Management Office.

INSURANCE

  • Before hurricane season starts each year, you should review your insurance coverage with your agent. Insurance policies provided by the JUA are more expensive than those issued by other companies, but they are available as a last resort before a hurricane hits, if you don't have homeowner's insurance. Other insurance companies may not want to provide insurance once a hurricane is within striking distance.
  • Make sure you have adequate coverage, especially if you have made any additions to your home, have expensive items or have had you property value increase.
  • Check your policy for windstorm and flood coverage.
    Make sure your standard homeowner's policy covers windstorm damage caused by wind or hail. Consider purchasing flood insurance if your home is in a flood zone as determined by the National Flood Insurance Program. Since there is an automatic five-day waiting period for flood insurance, purchasing flood insurance should be done before hurricane season.
  • Know what your policy does and doesn't cover.
    Review your policy for deductible, exclusion and coverage information including: relocation, temporary living expenses and personal injury. Standard homeowners' policies usually limit coverage on valuable jewelry, silver and guns.
  • Update your list of personal belongings.
    Maintain a current room-by-room inventory, including: serial numbers, purchase dates and cost of valuables. If your home is damaged or destroyed, it will be hard to remember details. Since your insurance company may require proof of cost, attach receipts to the inventory list. Videotapes or photographs are a good way to document your personal inventory.
  • Safeguard your records.
    Keep a copy of your policy and your inventory records in a safe deposit box. Make two copies; keep one in a fireproof home vault and give the other to a friend or relative. If your property is damaged, you will need quick access to this information.

For more information on insurance coverage, call Florida's toll-free Insurance Consumer Help line at 1-800-342-2762 or 1-800-528-7094.

HURRICANE PROTECTION PRODUCTS

Without protection, your home is at risk if a hurricane strikes. All windows and doors should be protected with products that meet the new building code. Shutters, windows and doors that meet strict hurricane resistance standards are classified as "hurricane protection products."
In addition to new shutters, there are also hurricane-resistant windows and doors that provide protection without using shutters. These windows and doors seal against the rain and windblown debris. If hurricane-force winds happen to get inside the house, your roof will not survive. Roofs are not designed to withstand wind pressure pushing up from the inside. Since hurricane- force winds can come from any direction, it's important to protect the entire house.
When shopping for your hurricane protection products, make sure the products you choose are approved.

SHUTTER TIPS

Shutters come in different shapes and sizes. Any shutter system certified as "impact-resistant" by Dade County Building Code is very strong.

TYPES OF SHUTTERS

  • Storm panels: These vertical shutters are stored in a stack and are installed at the time of the storm.
  • Accordion shutters: These folding, permanent shutters slide in pre-installed tracks to protect windows and doors. They work well to protect sliding glass doors and condominiums. No storage is required.
  • Roll-down shutters: These electric or hand-cranked shutters slide vertically to cover windows and doors. They're quick and easy when securing your home before a storm. Roll-downs work well on windows with no outside access.

Whichever shutters you choose, make sure they're installed by a licensed contractor and that you get a permit. Insist on a "final inspection" from your city or county building department. Beware of companies that want to install shutters without a permit.

PLYWOOD

Most plywood shutters don't meet the new building code or insurance industry standards, nor will they provide your house with the best protection.

WHY NOT PLYWOOD?

  • It doesn't meet the new building code. Technically, it's illegal.
  • No insurance discounts are offered if you use plywood shutters.
  • If not secured properly, they can become dangerous flying objects. Installation is very time-consuming and difficult. It can't be done alone or when a hurricane is approaching.
  • Plywood is bulky and deteriorates over time.
  • It's ineffective in protecting sliding glass doors and big windows.

A LAST RESORT

If there is no other alternative and you must use plywood as a last resort, the following tips should help reduce the risk of injury or damage. To ensure the safety of your family, home and others, don't take shortcuts when using plywood.

  • To avoid injury, don't work alone.
  • When measuring for shutters, add at least 4 inches on all sides of the opening to allow room for anchors.
  • Buy plywood that is at least ½” thick. Be sure the plywood is treated for outdoor use.
  • Pre-drill holes at least every 12 inches in both the wood and the wall for screws and anchors. Don't drill into molding or stucco that isn't secure.
  • Install 1-2 inch anchors into holes. Fill anchors with silicone caulk to keep out dirt and corrosion.
  • Use 1-inch diameter washers on all screws and bolts.
  • Keep screws, washers and anchors together in a plastic bag in a place that is easily accessible.
  • Label each shutter with the window it fits.
  • Practice putting shutters up now to avoid delays during a Hurricane Watch.

WINDOW FILM

Window film shouldn't be considered as a substitute for shutters. Film doesn't protect your home from flying debris. When hurricane-blown debris strikes a window that has film installed the window frame may not resist the impact and can collapse.

SKYLIGHTS

Since new skylights meet the current building code, it's suggested that you replace the old skylights. There may be cases when a skylight can be protected by shuttering or bracing it from underneath; however, this isn't advisable and may cost as much as a new skylight.
There are currently several different skylights that meet the new building code.

BUSINESS PROTECTION

Businesses should be aware of measures they can take to protect their facilities and employees. The primary objective should be to ensure that the business can continue to function after a hurricane has threatened the area. Without a complete plan to protect the business, a quick recovery from a hurricane will be difficult.
All business-hurricane plans should include: employee responsibilities at work and home, an emergency management team, communication lines, physical facilities and insurance coverage.
Since planning for a hurricane is a year-round task, the plan should be updated annually. The hurricane update plan should include: employee updates, implementation of plan (hurricane drills are advised), and insurance policy updates.

BUSINESS PROTECTION TIPS

  • Identify and protect vital records and back up all key files.
  • Protect electronic equipment and store back-up files in a safe place.
  • Elect a "hurricane staff" that will stay at the company during a hurricane (if it's outside the evacuation zone).
  • Make sure a safe room has been identified for these employees, and they know the location.
  • A hurricane supply kit should be available to employees.
  • Know what hurricane protection products are needed and where they're located.
  • Employees should be informed when
    they'll be released from work and when they should return. Give employees enough time to secure their homes and families.
  • Develop a 24-hour Emergency Contact
    List with phone numbers of key employees.
  • Give each contact person the names, addresses and phone numbers of employees in their group.
  • Since many employees will need money immediately after the storm, consider paying them before they leave to prepare their homes.
  • Review the company's insurance policy and make sure it provides adequate coverage.
  • Practice hurricane drills at least once yearly.
  • Have extra cash and blank checks available in case you need extra money after the storm.
  • Set up an out-of-town telephone number so employees can all to check in and receive company information.
  • Establish a temporary location for business operations in case your facility is damaged.

HURRICANE WATCH PLAN

By now, you should have completed your pre-season preparations and started safeguarding your property. Keep in mind that the storm can change course within the next 36 hours.

OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

Have your storm shutters ready for use and make sure you have all the parts.

  • Do not prune your trees at this time. Loose branches can become dangerous projectiles. Take any household or yard trash to your nearest Trash and Recycling Center for disposal. These Centers will remain open throughout the emergency, 24 hours a day.
  • Fuel and service all family vehicles.

INSIDE YOUR HOME

  • Check your Hurricane Supply Kit.
  • Prepare a "safe room" if you plan to stay in your home. This room or closet should be small and away from all windows, skylights and outside doors.
  • Make sure all emergency battery- operated equipment is in working order.
  • Get extra cash or traveler's checks. Banks might be closed for days if a hurricane strikes.

MOBILE HOMES

  • Inspect and secure mobile home tie downs.
  • Pack breakable items in padded boxes and put them on the floor.
  • Put lamps and taped mirrors in a padded bathtub.

APARTMENTS/CONDOS

  • Locate storm shutters for sliding doors and windows.
  • Prepare your "safe room" (interior bathroom, hallway, stairway, etc.).

EVACUATION PREPARATIONS

  • Listen to TV or radio for evacuation instructions. If ordered to evacuate, move immediately.

BOATS

Marine experts say that if you plan to move your boat, you should do it at least 48 hours before a hurricane is expected to hit the area. (This is normally before a Hurricane Watch is issued.)
You may need the extra time to move your boat since bridges might be locked down for land evacuation after a hurricane warning is issued.
Make sure:

  • Fuel tanks are full, batteries are fully charged, and fuel filters are clear.
  • Firefighting gear is fully functional.
  • Cockpit drains are clear and bilges are clean.
  • To remove or secure anything that can blow away or is susceptible to hurricane damage.
  • That boats are moored at locations near the ocean because they may take a beating against the dock during the storm surge. For the best offshore mooring procedures and locations, check local regulations.
  • To secure your boat from all possible directions; use more than one anchor.
  • To not tie boats together; the probability of damage will be greater.

ELDERLY RESIDENTS

Here are some things you will need to plan prior to the hurricane season:

  • Plan on taking care of yourself without electricity. Remember that the person taking care of you and your electrical devices may not be available right before and directly after the storm. If you are not available to do so, make other arrangements before hand.
  • If you are elderly, frail, or a person with disabilities and have friends or relatives that can help you with your property, housing and welfare, contact them now so that they can include your needs as part of their hurricane planning. They will need to include the time it will take for you to gather items you need and transportation time. You should rehearse this as part of your yearly hurricane preparation in May.
  • Make a list of prescribed medications, and get a month's supply. You should also make copies of the prescriptions. Your pharmacy's records may not be available right away.
  • If you normally require a special diet, make sure you take along three days supply of it in containers that will be easy to open.
  • Transfer to a manual wheelchair if you are in a battery operated one. You may not be able to recharge the batteries.
  • Make sure you are wearing an I.D. bracelet with your name, medications, allergies and contact information.
  • If you are in a nursing home, ask to see the hurricane plan that details where and when the residents will be evacuated. Be sure to let your family and friends know where you will be taken in case of evacuation.


HURRICANE WARNING PLAN

OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

  • Install hurricane shutters over windows and doors. Taping windows isn't recommended. Though it may reduce flying glass, taping won't keep the window from breaking.
  • Retrieve loose items from outside. Anchor objects that can not be brought inside your home.
  • When taking down the television antenna, unplug the set and make sure that the antenna does not come in contact with power lines.
  • If you own a swimming pool, don't drain it. Add extra chlorine to prevent contamination and turn off the circuit breaker to pool equipment.
  • If the filter pump is exposed, wrap it securely with plastic.
  • Park your car in a garage or by the side of a building. This will protect at least one side of the car from flying debris.

INSIDE YOUR HOME

  • Store all important documents and valuables in portable, waterproof containers and place them at a high elevation.
  • Clean bathtub, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils thoroughly. Fill jugs and bottles with water for drinking. Caulk bathtub drain and fill with water to be used for sanitary purposes.
  • Turn up refrigerator and freezer to maximum cold and don't open unless necessary. Fill the freezer with extra water jugs or with crumpled paper, to keep it tightly packed. These suggestions can maintain food-preserving temperatures for up to two days without electricity.
  • Take pictures off the walls and store them in a closet, preferably on a high shelf.
  • Put as many loose objects as possible, in drawers for safekeeping.
  • Keep all windows securely closed.

MOBILE HOMES

  • Turn-off the water where it enters the home.
  • Turn-off fuel lines and gas tanks. Don't disconnect fuel lines.
  • Bring in or secure all outdoor objects.
  • Leave! Don't stay in a mobile home during a hurricane.

APARTMENTS/CONDOS

  • Install shutters on windows and doors. Remove any loose items from your balcony.
  • If you live in an evacuation zone or on an upper floor of a high-rise building-- leave!

EVACUATION

  • Stay tuned to radio or TV, for instructions from your Emergency Management office.
  • If you live on the coast, barrier islands, in a mobile home, a high-rise in an evacuation zone, or in the flood plain of a river, EVACUATE once the order is given.
  • Leave early to avoid heavy traffic.

PETS

  • Bring in outside pets. If you must evacuate, take pets to your predetermined boarding place.
  • If you must leave pets behind, put them in an interior room with plenty of food and fresh water.
  • Don't tranquilize pets. They must be as alert as possible to survive.
  • Make sure all of your pets have identification and rabies tags.

BOATS
Don't move your boat if it will take you more than a few hours. You might get stranded aboard during the storm.

  • Tie the boat to the trailer.
  • Place wooden blocks between the trailer frame and the axle inside each wheel.
  • Let half the air out of the trailer tires.
  • Fill boat one-third full of fresh water to help hold it down.
  • Tie the boat to screw anchors secured in the ground. Consider a location away from trees.
  • Never remain aboard a boat during the storm.

SHELTER TIPS

  • Listen to the radio or TV to find out which shelters are open. Don't go to a shelter unless you know it's open. Local media will also broadcast pickup locations and schedules for county bus transportation to shelters.
  • Eat before going to a shelter. Food may not be immediately available. Bring the Shelter Supply Kit (See p. 19).
  • If you're taking a bus to a shelter, you may bring only one shopping bag and pillow per person.

PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
South Florida has a large population of "People with Special Needs." These people are frail, elderly or handicapped and will be in need of special assistance in the event of a hurricane. Special Needs Evacuation Centers (SNEC) will provide basic assistance to those evacuees who have no other place to go. If a person requires a caregiver in order to live independently, then the caregiver must accompany the special needs person to the shelter.
The SNEC facilities provide basic medical assistance and monitoring. In order to be eligible for SNECs, you must have a health condition that doesn't require hospitalization, but does require occasional skilled observation, assessment and/or maintenance. People in need of assistance with daily living (e.g., feeding, moving around, personal hygiene or medication), are also eligible to go to a SNEC.
A person with special needs must bring to the shelter:

  • 72-hour supply of prescribed medication
  • Dietary supplements
  • Medical supplies
  • Personal items (e.g., bedding, clothing, diapers, personal hygiene items, etc.)

Transportation will be available to people with special needs that aren't able to transport themselves to the center. These centers aren't equipped with advanced medical equipment nor are they able to provide advanced medical care. People who require continuous electricity, oxygen or technical nursing care should make advance arrangements with healthcare agencies for their care.
You must pre-register for services at a Special Needs Evacuation Center. Not every center will be open for evacuation. Persons assigned to Special Needs Evacuation Centers need to monitor the local media to determine if they must evacuate and what time the centers will open. The numbers assigned to each center will be used to identify them at the time of an evacuation.

DURING A HURRICANE

  • Keep all windows closed.
  • Tell stories or sing songs to help keep children calm.
  • If the eye of the storm passes over your neighborhood, stay inside in your "safe room." Storm conditions may lessen temporarily; don't be fooled by the calm outside. Hurricane winds will return from the other direction with the same or greater force.
  • Use your telephone only for urgent calls so others can use the lines for emergencies.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television to stay informed.
  • Stay calm. Don't walk around.

AFTER A HURRICANE STRIKES

You'll encounter difficulties with telephone communications, dangers from downed power lines and potential hazards from contaminated water and spoiled food. Once a hurricane has passed, it may still be unsafe to go outdoors. Stay tuned to your local television and radio stations to hear the official "all clear" from your county's Emergency Management Office, the American Red Cross or the police.

GOING HOME

  • If you evacuated, don't return home until officials announce your area is safe. You may be required to present proof of residency in order to re-enter evacuation areas.
  • Re-enter your home with caution. Check for structural damage. Turn-off any outside gas lines and let the house air out for several minutes to remove leaking gas.
    Don't use an open flame as a light source. Use a flashlight.
  • Make sure children are safe. Don't let them play in a damaged building or near piles of debris.
  • Make emergency repairs.
  • If your home has sustained structural damage, don't move back in until local officials check it. Each county has plans to certify buildings for safety.

TELEPHONE COMMUNICATIONS

  • Don't use the telephone unless it's absolutely necessary, so that people with emergencies have access to the system.
  • Don't call 911 except for life-threatening situations.
  • Don't report individual interruptions in electric, gas, water or telephone service. Utility companies have emergency plans to restore service after the storm clears the area. Call only after full service is restored in your neighborhood.
  • Do call police or utility companies immediately to report hazards such as downed power lines, broken gas or water mains or overturned gas tanks.

WATER PREPARATIONS

Water supplies may become contaminated during a hurricane. The Public Health Department will issue a boil water order immediately after a hurricane passes. During this time, use only your pre-stored water or boil water. (Note: Pre-stored tap water will only be good for one week.)
Recipes for Pure Water
If you don't have enough pre-stored drinking water and have to use tap water:

  1. Strain water through a paper towel or several layers of thick cloth to remove dirt before purifying; or let water settle in a container for 24-hours, so that solid particles sink to the bottom.
  2. Use one of the following methods to purify the water:
    BOILING: Boil water for ten minutes to kill any disease-causing microorganisms.
    CHEMICAL TREATMENT: Add one chlorine tablet (found in drug or sporting goods stores) for each quart of water to be purified.
    Add four water purification tablets per gallon of water; or add eight drops of chlorine bleach (without soap, lemon or other additives) per gallon of water.
    IODINE: Add five drops of tincture of iodine to each quart of clear water (for cloudy water add ten drops); or add one iodine tablet for each quart of water to be purified.
  3. Stir and let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes.
  4. To improve the flat taste of boiled water,
    Pour it back and forth from one container to another, let it stand for a few hours or add a pinch of salt for each quart boiled.
    For more information, call the EPA Safe Drinking Water hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

FOOD

  • Before using any food from the refrigerator, be sure to check it for spoilage. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Open your refrigerator only when necessary, in order to conserve cold air.
  • Since the fumes can be deadly, use gas or charcoal grills outside the home only.
  • Throw out all wet foods, except those sealed in airtight containers.
    For more information on food safety, call the USDA hot line at 1-800-535-4555 or the Florida Cooperative Extension Service in Dade at (305) 888-5010 or in Broward at (954) 370-3725.

PETS

  • Consider placing your pets in a kennel until it's safe for them to stay at home.
  • Check their food and water before they eat or drink it. Just like you, pets can become ill from contaminated food and water.

POWER GENERATORS

As a result of a hurricane, your home and neighborhood might be without power for some time. Use a portable generator with the following precautions:

  • A portable generator should only be operated outside the house. Breathing the accumulated carbon monoxide fumes will cause injury and could be fatal.
  • Never hook generators up to home wiring. Run separate heavy-duty extension cords from the generator directly to indoor appliances.
  • To prevent damage to your generator when electric service is restored, disconnect it before turning on the power to your home.

ELECTRICAL HAZARDS

After a hurricane, you may encounter electrical hazards around your home and neighborhood. Electricity from downed power lines can be fatal.

  • Don't touch any low-hanging or fallen power lines. They might be crossed with a live power wire. Power lines should be seen as potentially deadly.
  • Stay away from puddles with wires in them.
  • Don't touch or cut tree limbs near power lines.
  • Keep a close watch on children and make sure they don=t come close to power lines or utility crews.
  • Don't pile debris near or on top of power line equipment such as poles, transformers or downed electrical wiring. This will delay the work crews' efforts to restore power.
  • Inside the home, don't stand in water while operating switches or operate any appliances that may have been exposed to water.
  • When reinstalling a CB, TV or satellite antenna, check in all directions to make certain that no power lines are nearby. Contact with a power line could be deadly.

CHAIN SAW SAFETY

The Florida Cooperative Extension Service recommends the following safety precautions:

  • Keep both hands on the chain saw handles.
  • Never cut branches above your head.
  • Cut with the lower edge of the saw blade whenever possible.
  • Don't force the saw.
  • Wear protective clothing: a hard hat, goggles sturdy shoes, gloves and trim-fitting clothes.

CLEANING UP

  • Remember, if your home has sustained structural damage, don't move back until it's checked by local officials.
  • Make a list of damaged items inside your home, business or boat. Include a complete description.
  • Check outside for damage to walls, roofs, porches and screens. Photograph or videotape damage to your home, business, car, boat and other personal property. This will speed up your insurance claim.
  • Wear rubber gloves while scrubbing flood-damaged interiors and furniture.
  • Treat wet books and papers by sprinkling cornstarch or talcum powder to absorb moisture. Leave powder on for several hours before brushing off.

REVIVING YOUR POOL

  • Clean out as much debris as possible.
  • While waiting for electricity, super-chlorinate your pool with either a 10 percent sodium hypochlorite solution or 65 percent calcium hypochlorite granules.
  • Don't use your pool when it's super-chlorinated.
  • Don't drain your pool without professional advice; your pool could actually pop out of the ground.
  • Once you have electricity, call a licensed; insured pool company to check out your pool and equipment.

PHOTOS & ARTWORK

You can save storm-damaged family photos and artwork. Contact a professional as soon as possible because different types of art require different treatment. In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is preventing mold or mildew. The following remedies are suggested:

  • For photos, remove from frames and spread out to dry face-up on paper towels, blotters or clean cloths. If photos are stuck to the frame or to each other, try freezing them in plastic bags. If freezing several photos, separate them with wax paper.
  • For paintings, remove backing board and absorb moisture by dabbing them with paper towels on reverse side of canvas.
  • Lean paintings against a table or a chair to allow free airflow.

PLANTS & TREES

Your uprooted trees can be saved and those that are bare will bloom again.
To save your trees:

  • Stake leaning trees and bushes upright with cushioned wires or ropes.
  • Cover exposed roots with damp sheets. Never use plastic.
  • Prune lightly; don't use wound paint. If more than one-third of the plant is damaged, it may be better to replace it.
    Replanting guidelines:
  • Use native trees.
  • Plant mostly on sides of the house with high sun exposure. Plant around air conditioner unit to shade it.
  • Plant fast-growing vines to cover walls while trees are young.

BOATS

You've survived the hurricane and now you're wondering if your boat did too. Here are some suggestions:

  • Wait until it's safe to enter the area where your boat is kept.
  • If anything appears to be stolen, report it to the local law enforcement authorities.
  • Make any necessary emergency repairs to avoid further damage or looting, and save receipts to include with your insurance claim.
  • Work with your insurance agent to get estimates and to complete final repair work.

INSURANCE CLAIMS

If your home or personal belongings were damaged during the storm, the State Department of Insurance recommends the following guidelines for filing your claim:

  • Immediately report property damage to your agent or insurance company. After a hurricane, most insurance companies should establish toll-free numbers to handle claims calls.
  • Make emergency repairs and document them. Most homeowners' policies require that you make emergency repairs to prevent further damage to your home or its contents. Cover up with plastic or board up holes in roof, walls, doors and windows. Be careful! Take before and after pictures and save your receipts. Beware of contractors who encourage you to pay to a lot of money up front.
  • Take precautions if the damage requires you to leave your home. Secure your property to the best of your ability and remove valuables. Contact your agent and leave a phone number where you can be reached.
  • Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed, reputable service people. If you hire someone to make repairs to your home, make sure they have current licenses, insurance and permits. Never pay all costs of a repair job up front and always get a receipt.
    Beware of unlicensed "Adjusters for Hire". Demand positive identification and proof of license and insurance. Your insurance company will provide you with an adjuster free of charge; however, there are adjusters for hire who charge a commission that won't be covered by your insurance policy.

International Hurricane Protection Association
2501 Floral Road
Lantana, FL 33462
Phone: 561-282-2395
Fax: 561-433-2101