Ah, the other H word… Hurricane season is upon us and I want to share a few pointers and tips on what to do if a storm is approaching to help protect your home and property.
In my opinion, we as Floridians have it best when it comes to natural disasters. I know, major hurricanes are no fun, however, at least we have plenty of warning and time to prepare. If you think about it, you don’t get a lot of warning when it comes to earthquakes, tornadoes, flash floods, wild fires or volcanic eruptions. That said, let’s have a look at the do’s and don’ts when it comes to hurricane preparation.
First, you need to make sure you are prepared to be without electricity for anywhere from 24 hours to, in extreme cases, two weeks or more. I remember during Hurricane Wilma I went 18 days without power and I can tell you that was absolutely zero fun. I recommend at minimum you have enough bottled water for at least a week; the usual recommendation is a gallon per person per day. Make sure you have a thirty-day supply of any medications you or your pets may need. Batteries and flashlights are a must and of course you should have a battery operated radio to receive any updates while power is out. I also recommend that you top off the gas tank in all your cars. In years past gas can become very scarce very quickly before and after a major storm. If you have a gas grille, grab extra propane so at least you can enjoy a hot meal even if we have no electricity.
Next up is the portable generator if you have one. I suggest checking the generator out to make sure it is in proper working order. In most cases generators don’t get used very often and may not start when the emergency hits if not properly checked out. Make sure you have fresh gas in the unit and check the oil levels, then start the unit and make sure it is running correctly. The biggest thing to remember when it comes to gas powered portable generators: NEVER operate one in an enclosed or interior space. Every time we have a major storm you hear the one or two horror stories of families who have died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by running a generator in an area that is not properly ventilated.
Okay, we have taken care of the people part of the program, what about the home you ask? Let’s start with the obvious; you need to protect all the windows in the home if you do not have hurricane impact windows. This can mean putting up shutters or in some cases, it’s time to head to your favorite home improvement store for sheets of plywood. Again putting up shutters or plywood is hard and in some cases dangerous work. If you are not 100% confident in getting the task done there are a plethora of service companies that will help you accomplish the task. I look at it this way, it doesn’t make sense to protect your home if you fall off a ladder and die in the process.
My next suggestion is going to be the least popular one on the list, albeit one of the most important. As the storm approaches you need to turn off all the power to your home at the circuit breaker panel. Hurricanes can be very destructive to the power grid depending on intensity. As power lines, poles and sub stations get impacted by the high winds, massive power surges are sent through the grid and one good surge can take out every electronic device in your home along with all the appliances and basically anything that is plugged into an outlet. In extreme cases, power surges can even start fires. I promise you if you have a fire in the home during a major hurricane first responders will have a hard time getting to you. As always proactive is better than reactive and I would point you in the direction of surge protection devices installed on the home to stop power surges if you don’t want to kill the power before the storm hits. Surge protection is a good idea in general, hurricane or not; the few hundred dollars it will cost you to install electrical protection can save you thousands in the long run. Remember, while rare, power surges do occur during regular thunderstorms and can even happen on a sunny day when someone hits a pole with a transformer on it and takes that transformer out.
I leave you today with these last couple of thoughts. Take the storm seriously. I myself was guilty of saying it is only a Category 1, it’s no big deal. We locals have a tendency to be a little jaded when it comes to storms and as corny as it sounds it really does only take one good hurricane to turn your entire universe inside out. Listen to the authorities, take cover as needed and remember, if Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel shows up in our neighborhood we are likely screwed.
Until next time my friends,
House Whisperer out!!
For Immediate Emergency Assistance Call 1-800-475-1504