HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS by Curb Appeal Home Services Naples

 

Hurricanes are a common threat in Florida. The facts are that it’s not a matter of if, but when. Whether you are new to Florida or you have been here a long time, Curb Appeal Home Services of Naples knows that just hearing the forecast for a Hurricane creates stress. Many questions go through your mind when you here of the threat of a hurricane. Where is it going to make landfall? Do I have batteries? Do I have gas? Do I need a generator? Should I stay? These are just a few of the more common questions that get asked. Yet, there are certain questions that get asked too late, and they should be asked long before Hurricane season is upon us. Additional questions like; Where is the flashlight, do we have protection for the windows and doors, where are we putting the loose items outside, what happens if there is damage, what happens if we cannot get out, all too often these questions get asked when it’s too late.

hurricane preparedness

This is why people living in Florida should have a plan of action, or a Hurricane Preparedness plan. A plan of action for both pre-hurricane season, and a plan of action for when a hurricane is going to make landfall. Being prepared can be the difference in the health and safety of not just your home, but also your family. Not hesitating, makes the difference. Here are some items and reasons to help you prepare, as well as why, so you can be prepared.

 

  • Flashlight: First item on the list. First, if you have one, find it. Make sure to put it in a location where everyone in the family knows where it is. If you only have one, make sure to get a backup.
  • Batteries: Make sure that you have the proper size for your flashlights. Also, if there are any battery-operated items in your home, make sure that you have those size batteries as well. Clocks are a good example, or smoke detectors. The best time to buy your batteries would be at the beginning of hurricane season. You will be able to put fresh batteries in all your devices, and you will have fresh batteries just in case of emergency. Remember, the average shelf life for a lithium battery is about 5 years if kept in ideal conditions. This is why it’s best to make sure to buy your batteries before the hurricane season.
  • Food & Water: During hurricane season, if one does make landfall in your area, having a steady supply of food and water is essential. It is typical for the power to be off for an average of 3-7 days, depending on how quickly your electrical provider can disperse trucks, and how close you live to a grid that is deemed “priority”, such as a Fire Station, or Hospital. Ideally, you will want to store non-perishable foods with a long shelf life. NOW, is the best time to remember to fill your propane tanks for your BBQ Grill. Make sure you have a spare, as this could be your only source to cook food. Water, can also be stored for a long period of time but there are some important factors to remember about water:
    • Water for drinking. This is important for your health.
    • Water for flushing toilets. This can become an issue, and finding water for this is not as easy. Preparing ahead of time can make a difference. Empty buckets in the garage or on lanai’s can solve this problem.
    • Water for washing: Again, showering may not be a possibility. Having water on hand can make the difference when the power goes out, and there isn’t any AC.
    • DO NOT USE STANDING WATER FROM RAIN: This can be harmful to your health and home.
  • Window & Door Protection: Many of the newer homes in Florida are now required to have shutters. These can be roll down shutters mounted to the exterior of the home, or, panels provided for homeowners to install over their windows & doors. Either way, this is something that should be prepared for. Make sure that you regularly test your roll down shutters so that they work properly. This will insure that your windows and doors are protected when its needed. As far as shutter panels, it should be a routine plan to install them, the same as having a fire evacuation plan. Make sure that everyone knows where they go and how they are installed. Do you have all the bolts and nuts that go with the panels? Are the panels labeled on the inside so everyone knows which location they go to? Are the anchors that are provided around the window or door clean? Do they have plastic caps on them to protect them from the weather? These items are important for the safety and protection of your home and family.
  • NO SHUTTERS: Many homes are not provided with hurricane shutters. Wind during these storms can turn flying debris into missiles. If debris breaks the glass or worse goes through the glass, the pressure that can build up inside a home can be catastrophic. So, what does a person do if they do not have shutters? Below, is a list of items that can help to protect your home. Hiring a handyman service is another way for many who are older relieve some of the stress of trying to do this themselves.
    • 5/8” plywood or better. A full sheet is 5/8”x4’x8’. Usually, this is installed 4-6 inches bigger than the window or door that it is protecting. The minimum should be 5/8”.
    • 1-3/4” Concrete Anchors. These anchors are installed by drilling a hole with a concrete bit, and then installing the anchor. When installing these anchors, make sure they are tight, and they should be installed no more than 6” apart.
    • DO NOT try to use any type of tape or film on your windows or doors. It does not work. Winds can get extreme, and your home and the safety of your family is not worth it.
  • Outdoor Items: For many, the Florida lifestyle includes having a home with a pool, pool deck, and pool furniture, so that they can sit outside and enjoy the weather. When that weather gets extreme, outdoor patio furniture can become dangerous. When hearing that a potential hurricane could make landfall, it is best practice to move the furniture either indoors, or into the garage for safety reasons. This will include small potted plants, cushions, and any pictures or items that may be for decoration. Also, do not forget your BBQ Grill. This may become your only source of cooking if the power goes out as mentioned earlier. Some other items to take notice of:
    • Outdoor signs. Such as Security company signs.
    • Bird Houses that are hanging from tree limbs
    • Flags
    • Hanging Lights: Chandeliers at front entry ways for example.
  • Generators: Due to major hurricanes in the past, many homeowners are installing all home generators. If your home has one of these, or, if you are renting or purchasing a small generator, there are some important things to remember, and some helpful tips to make this a little less stressful:
    • Safety: Whole Home Generators are equipped to come on automatically when the power goes out. Small generators must be started when the power goes out. There are two main safety factors that must be watched for: make sure the generator has adequate ventilation; make sure any gas cans are stored away from the generator or heat sources. These two main factors will help protect your family.
    • No Gas: Having the generator running makes an uncomfortable situation a little less uncomfortable. But what happens when you run out of gas? Trying to find gas, or worse, there are gas rations, what do you do to save gas? The following is a guide to help make your gas last, your generator not run all the time, and still help with preserving the items in your home:
      • Before the storm while you still have power, turn your Air Conditioner and Refrigerator to a colder setting.
      • Once power has gone out, wait till the storm passes before turning on your generator. (At this point, you should have your flashlight, and do not open the doors of the refrigerator)
      • If your generator is a whole home generator, before the storm hits and power goes out, go to the electrical panel. Turn off any unnecessary items that you will not need. For example: Stove, Microwave, DW, Washing, Dryer. Keep on only the lighting you will absolutely need at nighttime, and all other circuits can be turned off. Now, turn on your generator.
      • If you are using a generator to plug into, go ahead and make sure the generator is outside, and the exhaust port is pointing away from the home. Start your generator and then plug in what is needed.
      • After several hrs, usually 4-5 hrs of running time, turn off your generator. This is called “cycling down”. The reason for this is two-fold. One, it protects the generator from running all the time, and saves the use of gas. Also, once your refrigerator has been cold, it takes less time to keep it cold. Items can be taken out, the door closed, and the door can remain closed to preserve the cold inside. The same will go for the AC on a whole home generator.
    • Personal information: Many times, damage will happen. Sometimes it is unavoidable. If you survived, then everything else can be replaced. In order to do that, you have to have your personal information. Insurance, License, and a whole list of items. Before the storm, it is usually a good idea to have all important documents scanned and installed on a Zip drive, or disc, that is available to you. If something should happen, and you need to either evacuate, or you’re rescued from the damage, it will be important to have those papers available. By having the Zip drive, you will be able to access all of those important papers from any computer, and you will know that they will be safe. Here is a small list of important documents that you can add to yourself:
      • Drivers License
      • Homeowners Insurance Policy
      • Car Insurance Policy
      • Picture of License Plate
      • Pet Papers
      • Dr’s Phone Numbers
      • Prescriptions
      • Birth Certificates
      • Passports
      • Social Security Cards
      • Phone Numbers of Family
    • Pets: Pets are part of our family, and we want them protected also. Remember, the wind howling, thunder and lightening can scare them, just like it can scare us. Make sure you have plenty of food and water for them as well. Have a place for them to sleep near you during the storm. Keep them close to you at all times. Many times, they like to hide under beds or tables and it can be hard to get them. Ensure that they are taken care of as well.
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