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Always Assume a Hurricane Will Hit You

Hurricane Irene-on-the-ProwlMIAMI – Aug. 23, 2011 – As of late morning, Hurricane Irene appears to be turning from the Florida coast and heading toward the Carolinas – though Atlantic coastal cities should still expect rough surf, blustery weather and possible tornados. But even if Irene avoids the Sunshine State altogether, Floridians should be generally prepared for hurricane season and specifically prepared for any named storm lurking off the coast. Just remember Andrew in 1992.

Preparation includes family and home first, but business records should also be preserved, either by using a cloud computing system that stores records in a non-hurricane state, or by backing up the information manually before power potentially goes out.

For more information, check the floridarealtors.org hurricane center.

Consider the following:

Before hurricane season
• Review your homeowner’s policy. Consider whether you have flood insurance and if your policy covers current rebuilding costs. Understand your responsibilities, which may include installing shutters and ensuring that sump pumps are functioning.

• Consider improvements to protect your home, including storm shutters for windows and sliding doors, and a hurricane-proof roof.

• Make a home inventory. Be as detailed as possible, listing all personal items and include photos or videos. Keep your inventory in a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box.

• Stock emergency supplies, including a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, first aid handbook and kit, a week’s worth of non-perishable food and water, tools, blankets and/or sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, paper plates and cups, boards, plastic sheeting, tape and toiletries (soap, bleach (for disinfecting), diapers, etc.).

• Develop an evacuation plan and notify family and friends where you will be staying if forced to evacuate. Give them your cell phone number and be sure to compile a list of key numbers you might need in the case of an emergency.

• Secure your home: Repair loose boards, shingles, shutters, down spouts—the kind of things that could become greater problems in high winds or torrential rain.

During a hurricane watch
• Listen to advisories on radio or TV. Follow advice from local officials.

• Double check emergency supplies.

• Charge cell phone batteries.

• Fill the car’s gas tank.

• Bring items inside that could become dangerous as flying objects, including toys and lawn furniture.

• Securely anchor sheds, cabanas and other detached structures.

• Protect glass windows with boards, shutters or tape – they could be broken from wind pressure.

• If flooding is possible, move important papers and valuables to the second floor.

• Turn a refrigerator to the coldest setting; if the power goes off the food will last longer.

• Fill a clean bathtub with extra water.

During an evacuation
• Turn off utilities, including gas, water and electricity.

• If going to a shelter, leave animals in a secure place with food and water to last for several days. Never tie them up – they won’t be able to escape in the face of danger.

• Lock doors and windows.

• Leave a message for authorities notifying them where you will be.

• Take important documents, including your insurance policies, and emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, prescriptions, first aid handbook and kit, non-perishable food and water, tools, blankets or sleeping bags, cooking and eating utensils, paper plates and cups, boards, plastic sheeting, tape, baby food, clothes, cash and toiletries (toilet paper, soap, bleach for disinfecting, diapers, etc.).

• When advised to leave, go as soon as possible. Follow recommended routes only.
Keep your radio on for current storm information.

• Evacuate motor homes and take shelter in a grounded building.

During the storm
• Stay inside.

• Open a window or door on the side of your home opposite the prevailing wind in order to reduce dangerous inside pressure.

• Stay away from windows.

• Remain in the center of the room, or in an inside room.

• Turn off electricity if flooding begins.

• Listen to the radio for advisories.

After the storm
• Check utilities. Turn them off if you suspect damage and don’t turn them on again yourself.

• Listen to the radio for advisories and instructions.

• Stay home unless ordered to evacuate.

• Let a car dry out before starting it.

• When returning to a home, be cautious when entering a damaged structure.

• Stay away from damaged or weakened walls.

• Wear shoes around debris.

• Avoid fallen power lines.

• When beginning cleanup, use protective gear such as eyewear or gloves.

• Dispose of digestible items touched by floodwater – food, drinks, and medicine.

• Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible if you have experienced damage.

• Create a list of damaged property that includes photographs and/or videotape when available.

• Do not dispose of damaged items without prior approval from your insurance claims adjuster.

• Keep an accurate record of any temporary repairs or expenses that can be part of your claim.

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.
© 2011 Florida Realtors®

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