We’re already into the fourth hurricane of the year and peak season has yet to arrive, which is around September 10. Hurricane Irma, currently a Category 5 storm, is heading towards the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. It’s not clear at this point rather Irma will make landfall in the continental U.S. but Florida officials have already issued an evacuation and closed schools as the storm appears to be on path to strike around the weekend. In an effort to be as prepared as possible for if Irma does make landfall here are several tips from the Department of Homeland Security to help you and your love ones remain safe.
Basic Preparedness Tips
- Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
- Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
- If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
- Make a family emergency communication plan.
- Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”
Preparing Your Home
- Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
- Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
- Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
- Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.