It’s no surprise to Florida residents that we’re the top-ranked state for direct hurricane hits from 1851 to 2020, with 120 total hurricanes, and of those, 37 at the highest Category 5 level. The runner-up is Texas with just 64 and 19, respectively. That’s around half of what Florida has seen. For more insight, see our article Worst U.S. Cities for Hurricane Damage.
Our hometown of Orlando didn’t make that list. But it certainly sees the brunt of many hurricanes. Even so, due to its inland location, many coastal Florida communities evacuate to Orlando.
Given that background, it’s a good idea to do everything we can to prepare for the hurricane season that starts June 1 and runs through November 30.
Prepare Your Home
Ideally, you’ll be able to take shelter at home in the face of a hurricane or tropical storm. We’ve developed a list of steps you can take now to prepare, as well as the steps to take immediately before a hurricane arrives.
- Review home insurance. Flooding due to weather events isn’t usually covered by your homeowner’s insurance. You can find coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program or check with your insurance agent on other options.
- Setting up weather notifications. Set up weather alerts using a smartphone app or monitor NOAA weather radio. It’s important to keep up with changing weather conditions. FEMA also has a mobile app for keeping up with alerts and for finding open shelters.
- Trimming trees. Dead tree limbs can be a real danger when the wind blows hard. Conduct regular tree trimming to remove dangerous branches around your home and to keep your yard in shape.
- Keeping gutters clear. Keep your gutters and downspouts clear as part of your spring and fall maintenance. Water coming off your roof and falling on the foundation can cause significant damage throughout the year, but particularly during severe rain associated with a hurricane.
- Checking foundation drainage system. Make sure your exterior drainage system is free from blockage and ready to move water away from your foundation. If you don’t have such a system, we can help.
- Maintaining your roof. Repair or replace any loose or missing shingles, as well as any roof vents. Any roof damage can lead to leaking into your attic and home. It can only get worse during a hurricane.
- Adding an emergency generator. A small gas or propane-fueled generator can keep appliances running and a few lights on during a power outage, even an outage that can extend for days. Make sure you test the generator before you need it and never run it indoors.
- Keeping backup fuel on hand. In the aftermath of a hurricane, finding anything can be a real challenge, including gasoline and propane. Make sure you keep fuel on hand ready to power generators, grills for cooking, and even chainsaws to help clear downed trees.
- Moving your vehicles. As a hurricane approaches, get your cars to safety. Ideally, that’s your garage. It’s a good idea to fill their tanks as well. Make sure you know how to manually open the garage doors when the power fails.
- Securing outdoor furniture. Under heavy winds, patio furniture becomes an airborne missile that can cause serious damage and injury. Move them into storage or secure them to avoid damage to your home.
- Covering windows and secure doors. Cover your windows with hurricane shutters or plywood. Damaged windows not only allow rain into your home, but the resulting wind can lift your roof. Wind-load garage doors are a great replacement for standard doors.
- Setting up an emergency family shelter. Set up an interior room away from any windows as your family shelter. Stock it with emergency supplies.
- Stocking emergency supplies. The storm and its aftermath could last for days and perhaps weeks. You’ll need to stock up with food, water, flashlights, medications, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, and quite a bit more to support your family. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supplies kits.
Prepare Your Family
While you’re preparing your home for hurricanes it’s also important to prepare your family. Here’s a list of steps to take.
- Write a family emergency plan. You may have some ideas on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, but it’s best to write it all down. Then share it with your family. They can also offer improvements and bring in factors that weren’t considered. Ready.gov has a superb family emergency plan as a starting point.
- Add school and work plans. Schools and workplaces also have emergency plans. Consult those plans and integrate them into your family plan. That can bring everyone in your family up to speed on what’s expected during an emergency.
- Read the community hurricane response plan. Your community also has a detailed disaster plan including shelter locations, evacuation plans, and ways of notifying residents. Read through that plan and make sure the details relevant to you and your family are incorporated into your own planning.
- Set up family emergency contact numbers. Keeping in touch with family members during a hurricane will prove very challenging. Make sure all the phone numbers are available, from work to school to cell phone numbers.
- Establish an emergency meeting location. It’s quite possible that everyone in your family will not be able to make it home. You have the contact numbers, but in case those don’t work, it’s wise to set up one or more meeting locations after the storm.
- Practice your plan together. Review your emergency plan with your family and then practice your plan. This will help cement the required actions in the mind of family members. It will also expose your plan to the light of day, helping reveal any problems.
Prepare for Evacuation
Storm damage or evacuation orders may dictate that you leave your home. You’ll need to be prepared to gather your family, find a nearby shelter, and then travel to the shelter.
Your community’s hurricane response plan will provide the location of shelters. You’ll also need to plan travel routes to those shelters as well as backup routes in case of road closures or flooding.
It’s wise to take emergency supplies with you to the shelter. This can be a subset of the emergency kit you’ve built for your family shelter.
We Can Help with Your Preparation
We can help identify any issues with your home’s foundation that need to be addressed before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Florida Foundation Authority.