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Hurricane Season: Don’t be scared, be prepared!

Posted on: 05/01/2015

Hurricane Season: Don’t be scared, be prepared!

Summer in South Florida can me gorgeous, balmy beach days and warm nights listening to live music at a local bar with friends. On the other hand, it can also mean hurricanes. From June 1st to November 30th each year, the threat of a hurricane is real. For many who have lived in Fort Lauderdale all their lives, preparing for an incoming storm is practically second nature. For those who haven’t ever experienced this specific brand of Mother Nature’s fury, we have some tips for preparing for the storm as well as coping with the aftermath.

Preparation:

  1. Check for updates on developing storms in the Atlantic periodically and track their progress through official channels like NOAA Weather Radio, The Weather Channel, or the National Weather Service (NWS).
  2. When a storm is coming in, check your emergency supplies and replace anything that has been used or has spoiled (look for a list of necessities at the end of this page). Don’t wait until the last minute, though, or a lot of stores may be cleared out of important supplies!
  3. Around your apartment or house, bring in anything that isn’t bolted to the ground like lawn furniture, bicycles, potted plants, etc. Close and lock all windows and, if your home or building is equipped with them, close the hurricane shutters as well. If you do not have hurricane shutters, sheets of plywood are a common and inexpensive substitute. Should neither of those options be available, taping your windows will not protect you from incoming debris, but it may limit the spread of glass should a window break during the storm.
  4. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and try to keep the doors closed as much as possible so that the food inside will last longer if and when the power goes out.
  5. Turn off any propane tanks, unplug small appliances to avoid shorts during the storm, and ensure any vehicles you may need to use after the storm have a full tank of gas.
  6. Pay attention to NOAA and NWS storm updates, especially in regards to the category level of the storm. Before the storm arrives you and anyone in your household should create an evacuation plan to be used in case of emergencies.
  7. Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Get directions to local shelters, register any special medical needs with the Red Cross, and make plans for any pets to be cared for. Also ensure you and your household/roommates have all your necessary contact information in case anyone gets separated from the others during the storm.
  8. Obey evacuation orders. Fort Lauderdale often has to close down bridges and roads during hurricanes and staying in a mandatory evacuation zone will put you in serious danger should anyone be hurt during the storm. You may not be able to get help and help may not be able to get to you.

Categories of Hurricanes (taken from the National Hurricane Center):

  • Tropical Storm
    • Winds at 39-73 mph
    • Category 1 Hurricane
      • Winds at 74-95 mph (4-82 kt or 119-153 km/h)
      • Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
      • Category 2 Hurricane
        • Winds at 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/h)
        • Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
        • Category 3 Hurricane
          • Winds at 111-129 mph (96-112 kt or178-208 km/h)
          • Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
          • Category 4 Hurricane
            • Winds at 130-156 mph (113-136 kt or 209-251 km/h)
            • Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
            • Category 5 Hurricane
              • 157 mph or higher (137 kt or higher or 252 km/h or higher)
              • Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

 

Supplies to have on hand during a storm:

  1. Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  2. Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  3. Several flashlights
  4. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  5. Enough extra batteries to power crucial devices for over a week
  6. First aid kit
  7. Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  8. Multi-purpose tools
  9. Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  10. Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  11. Cell phone with chargers and battery extension packs if possible
  12. Family and emergency contact information
  13. Extra cash
  14. Blankets
  15. Map(s) of the area
  16. Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers) if applicable
  17. Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  18. Tools/supplies for securing your home
  19. Extra set of car keys and house keys
  20. Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  21. Rain gear
  22. Insect repellent and sunscreen
  23. Camera for photos of damage