Hurricane Irma is projected to strike South Florida soon, which will be the 4th Category 5 storm to make landfall on the U.S. mainland. The National Hurricane Center categorizes hurricanes using the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, which uses wind speed as the defining factor determining severity. Category 5 hurricanes usually have winds of at least 157 MPH. Because Category 5 hurricanes often leave deaths and extensive property damage in their wake, it’s important to be ready for the impending natural disaster. Here are a few steps to take in case Hurricane Irma makes landfall.
Make a Hurricane Emergency Kit
To prepare for the storm, it’s important to gather together some essential emergency materials. Don’t wait until the evacuation order is given. Have this kit ready to go before the hurricane even strikes. Your emergency kit should contain the following:
- 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days (drinking and sanitation)
- 3-day supply of nonperishable food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- A NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications
- Infant supplies (formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream)
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash/ traveler’s checks
- Important family documents
- Sleeping bag/ warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing
- Sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies/ personal hygiene items
- Paper and pencil
- Mess kits and disposable kitchen supplies
- Entertainment (books, puzzles, games)
This kit should be readily available to you in the event of a sudden order to evacuate. Keep the canned food in a cool, dry place, store boxed food in a tightly closed plastic or metal container, and replace expired items as needed. It also helps to keep 3 kits in separate locations—home, work, and car—in case you have to go in a hurry or are caught away from home.
Know Your Zone
If you’re unsure which zone you are in, you might not know if your area is being evacuated or not. Do you live near the Gulf or near the Atlantic Coast? To check whether or not your area is being evacuated, visit the National Weather Service (NWS) website to find your zone. That website can be found here.
Create or Review a Family Emergency Plan
Before a disaster occurs, you and your family should plan what to do and where to meet if you are separated during a storm. How will you get in contact and which direction will you travel if the evacuation order comes? Make a meeting plan with your friends and family and keep a copy with you in your emergency supply kit or another safe place where you can find it quickly in the event of a disaster.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Some insurance policies won’t cover the cost of damage caused by what they consider an “Act of God.” If your home may be damaged during the storm, and your insurance won’t cover it, consider adding storm coverage to your policy. Alternatively, you could do your best to protect your property as much as possible before the storm hits. Board up your windows or invest in storm blinds to keep your windows from breaking during the storm.
Understand the NWS Forecast Procedures
The NWS will continually watch the development of storms that may threaten the lives of residents. Make sure to look at their Watches and Warnings webpage to understand the level of threat your area might be experiencing. The National Hurricane Center issues tropical cyclone advisory notices at least every 6 hours, so keep updated on the storm’s progress by visiting this site.
Prepare Your Home
You may not be able to move your home out of a flooded area, but you can do your best to ensure your property remains as safe as possible. Keep trees around your home trimmed well before a storm to prevent any branches from falling onto your roof or knocking in your windows. Bring in any loose, outdoor items, such as patio furniture. They can be picked up by the wind and flung in any direction, causing damage to homes. Secure all doors on your property, including your garage door (the most vulnerable). Last, move your car inside a garage or to a safe location to prevent it from being damaged by flying debris.
Watch the News
Tune in to whatever news source you most trust to give you up-to-date information on weather. You can do this by watching TV, using the radio, social media, a computer, or your phone. If local officials warn you to evacuate the area, listen to their precautions. Until the evacuation order has been issued, stay in a small, interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level during the storm. You want as many walls between you and the storm as possible.
Del-Air Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing was founded in 1983 with the purpose of helping consumers, builders, and commercial clients with their heating and air issues by providing exceptional customer services. We are one of the largest residential heating and air conditioning companies in Florida. If you have a problem with your HVAC system, need maintenance, or would like to install a new unit, we can help.