Hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1-Nov. 30. Prepare yourself by understanding the potential storm dangers, ranked by the hurricane categories of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale outlined below. Also be aware that approaching storms can unexpectedly step up in strength just prior to landfall, after it is too late to adjust your preparations.
Category 1: 74-95 mph sustained winds
Strong winds may cause minor damage to roofs and wood fencing. Shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Limited power outages could occur in neighborhoods and intersections with older electric infrastructure.
Category 2: 96-110 mph winds
Dangerous winds may cause significant damage. Homes could sustain roof and siding damage. Unprotected windows may be broken. Tree branches and downed wires may temporarily block roads. Regional power losses are expected; outages could several days. Travel will be delayed.
Category 3 (major): 111-129 mph winds
Serious damage may happen to all but the most well-protected homes, including damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees and power poles will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable, and even travel may be restricted for several days after the storm passes.
Category 4 (major) 130-156 mph winds
Devastating damage will occur to frame houses, and even concrete block homes can suffer loss of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed, isolating residential areas. Prolonged power outages and limited access will cause some of the affected areas to be uninhabitable for weeks.
Category 5 (major) 157 mph or higher winds
Catastrophic damage will occur to most structures. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Utility infrastructure will require significant rebuilding, and normal travel is impossible, causing most of the affected area to be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Secure your property in advance
- Fit all windows with plywood covers, hurricane shutters, or replace old windows with hurricane-resistant windows. When hurricane-force winds break windows or doors, the resulting updraft can lift the roof off the structure. The opening also admits water from the storm that compounds the damage.
- Either purchase professionally made hurricane reinforcement for the garage door, or reinforce it with wood 2-x-4s installed vertically against the inside of the door, and anchored securely to the floor and ceiling.
Prepare as the storm approaches
- Pick up all loose items in the yard and bring them inside. Even in 80 mph winds, small items can become dangerous projectiles.
- Do not put garbage or yard trimmings out at the curb for collection. Two or more days before landfall, the county’s waste management trucks will be parked. Garbage cans and bags left outside then become hazards in the wind and strew trash all over the neighborhood.
- Fill clean containers and even your bathtub with water to use for cleaning and drinking after the storm.
- If you must shelter in place, find the strongest, safest spot in your house and reinforce it with mattresses and sturdy furniture. In strong storms, windows may fail and the roof may detach, so plan your fortifications to protect yourself and family against falling and flying objects.
After the storm subsides
Once the winds subside, it is possible electric and phone services may not be available up to several weeks. Fuel may not be available either, and restocking of groceries and other necessities may not be possible right away.
The following items will be helpful to have beforehand:
- Cash and rolls of quarters
- Two weeks worth of bottled water and nonperishable food, along with a manual can opener. Plan on 1 gallon of water, per person, per day, plus a gallon of water per pet, per day.
- A flashlight for each member of the family, as well as extra batteries.
- First-aid book and first-aid kit.
- A cooler for food and another for ice.
- Plastic tarp for temporary roof or window repair.
- Plastic garbage bags.
- Mops, buckets, towels and disinfectant.
- Items for infants, children and pets.
Remember: Among the greatest dangers after a hurricane are downed power lines. Do not walk near or drive over any wires lying on the ground. Do not allow children — or adults — to play in standing water after an event, as the water may be contaminated or harbor vermin like ants and snakes.
When a hurricane strikes, you may be on your own for 3 days or longer. In case this were to happen again, you want to have the necessities of life by shopping now before the hurricane threatens.
Here are supplies that should be on everyone’s list. Print it or make your own and take it to the store with you.
- Portable camp stove or grill
- Propane tank
- Aluminum foil
- Oven mitts
- Non-Perishable Foods
- Canned meats, fruits, vegetables
- Bread in moisture-proof packaging
- Cookies, candy, dried fruit
- Canned soups & milk
- Powdered or single serve drinks
- Cereal bars
- Peanut butter & jelly
- Instant coffee & tea
- Manual can opener
- Disposable plates, cups & eating utensils
- Napkins & paper towels
- Portable battery powered lanterns
- Battery powered radio
- Extra batteries
- Ice chest & ice
- First aid kit
- Waterproof container for document storage
- Personal Battery Operated Fan
- Baby supplies
- Pet supplies
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