In our daily rush from one place to the next and one task to another, it’s way too easy to overlook hurricane preparation. Yet at some point during the hurricane season, you can bet that one will be heading our way. At that point, preparation will become all that we can think about even though it may be too late.
There is, of course, a better way. Do the preparation well in advance and incorporate some of that preparation into your seasonal maintenance routine.
What are the signs that you’re not prepared? And more importantly, how can you be prepared for the next hurricane?
What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms with sustained winds above 74 mph. That’s a Category 1 hurricane. You can find the five categories of hurricanes listed below along with the types of damage to expect.
|Hurricane Category||Sustained Winds||Expected Damage|
|1||74 to 95 mph||Some damage to roof, vinyl siding, gutters, trees toppled, branches down, power lines and poles down, power loss for a few to several days.|
|2||96 to 110 mph||Extensive damage to frame homes and trees, power poles down, power loss for days to weeks.|
|3||111 to 129 mph||Devastating damage, loss of roof and gable ends, trees and power poles down, loss of both power and water for weeks.|
|4||130 to 156 mph||Catastrophic damage, loss of roof and some walls, most trees and power poles down, loss of power for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|5||157 mph or higher||High percentage of frame homes destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Power out for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable.|
Source: OSHA Hurricane Preparedness https://www.osha.gov/hurricane/preparedness
As you can see, hurricanes are classified by their ferocious winds. But that’s not all they bring. Storm surge, the mountain of water that’s blown in front of the hurricane, is the leading cause of hurricane-related fatalities.
The second cause of fatalities is flooding from heavy rains. Then there are the tornadoes that can arise from the severe weather. Rains and flooding can occur hundreds of miles from the path of the hurricane and last for days, well after the hurricane has moved on.
Do Hurricanes Hit Florida?
Florida is the top-ranked state for direct hurricane hits, with 120 total hurricanes between 1851 and 2020, and of those, 37 were major hurricanes rated at Category 3 winds of 111 mph and above. In fact, 40% of all U.S. hurricanes hit Florida.
For further background, see our article Worst U.S. Cities for Hurricane Damage. You’ll find that of the 10 cities that are most vulnerable to hurricanes, six of the cities are in Florida: Miami, Tampa, Fort Myers, Bradenton, Naples, and Jacksonville.
Signs You’re Not Prepared
A careful examination of the chart above under the heading “expected damage” will reveal that power and water can be lost for days or weeks. In the worst storms, the area can become uninhabitable.
Preparation to deal with all this is a big deal. Here are the signs that you’re not prepared along with a few words of advice on what you can do about it.
- No family emergency plan. Without a plan, you’re left to spur-of-the-moment decisions along with less than advantageous choices. A written plan can provide the best options, including spelling out you and your family’s actions before, during, and after a hurricane. It should also incorporate information from workplace and school plans so everyone is covered no matter where they are at the time. Ready.gov has a superb family emergency plan as an excellent starting point to building your own plan.
- No emergency home shelter. If your home is suitable as a shelter, designate an internal room without windows that can protect your family from high winds. Stock it with the supplies you’ll need and let your family know where to go in an emergency.
- No emergency supplies on hand. After a hurricane has devastated your area, the only supplies left will be those you’ve stored in your family shelter. They will need to last you several days, if not weeks. Key items are food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, charged cell phones, prescription medications, pet food, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, and more. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supply kits.
- No weather monitoring system. Keeping watch on the hurricane’s path and development will be critical to your safety. A smartphone weather app can provide warnings. But if cell phone service isn’t working, you’ll need a battery-powered NOAA weather radio to keep up on things. Don’t venture outside until the all-clear has been given.
- No evacuation information. Even if you’ve taken every effort to set up a family emergency shelter, the severity of the hurricane may force evacuation. That means you’ll need information on shelter locations and travel routes. As the situation develops, you may need alternate travel routes due to road closures or flooding. It’s also wise to have a list of alternative shelters as well. Have a set of emergency supplies to take with you.
- No home preparation. A poorly maintained home won’t be the shelter you’ll need during hurricane weather. The roof, gutters and drainage systems, as well as tree trimming to help prevent broken branches hitting your home, all need regular ongoing maintenance. It’s also best to make sure your crawl space has the necessary drainage systems. Use storm shutters or cover windows with plywood. Install a wind-load garage door or use a hurricane shutter.
For more advice on hurricane preparation, see our articles Hurricane Preparedness Week in Florida and 4 Tips to Prepare Your Florida Home for Hurricane Season.
We Can Help
We serve the greater Orlando area. As a result, we’ve helped quite a few people prepare for severe weather including hurricanes.
We can also help identify any issues with your home and foundation that should be addressed before a hurricane arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Florida Foundation Authority.