Most years, some part of Florida is affected by a hurricane. Sometimes multiple hurricanes strike in a single season, and they vary in severity. Long-time Floridians are familiar with hurricanes and know how to stay safe. Newer residents might not have the experience to know what precautions to take. Even some natives might believe myths or take inadequate precautions. With a few tips, however, you can stay safe during hurricane season.
Hurricanes bring heavy rain and high winds. Strong winds can damage roofs, cars, and trees. Sometimes hurricanes can produce tornadoes, which can cause more extensive localized damage. The strongest hurricane winds can even knock cars and trucks over. The rains hurricanes produce can cause flooding. For people living near the ocean, large waves driven the storm can even batter and damage houses.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that homeowners install permanent storm shutters, or at minimum board up their windows when a hurricane approaches. Use 5/8″ marine plywood to secure your windows. Weaker wood might not provide adequate protection. Some people believe that taping windows will help. In reality, tape does little to nothing to keep windows intact.
Homeowners should take steps to better secure their roof. High-force hurricane winds can dislodge or even entirely remove the roofs of many timber-frame houses. If you have trees and shrubs near your house, make sure they’re well trimmed. A fallen limb can cause serious roof damage. Some people in hurricane-prone areas install safe rooms. Safe rooms, made from reinforced concrete, are commonly used in tornado alley and can resist many flying projectiles.
If you live in an area where an evacuation seems likely, make sure to have a full tank of gas. During the actual evacuation, gas stations can be overrun and might even be shut down if the storm is hitting. Secure your home and keep a battery-powered radio and supplies with you. Do not leave at the last minute or in a panic. Always avoid downed power lines and never drive through flood water.
During a hurricane, be sure to secure your house. Keep away from windows and avoid using the phone or other electronics unless absolutely necessary. Have a supply of non-perishable food and keep plenty of clean drinking water around. Also have water supplies for sanitation, for example by filling your bathtub. If the storm becomes intense, take shelter in an interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level of the building.
Hurricane safety should be taken seriously. Neglectful hurricane preparation can result in structural damage and, more seriously, injury and even death.