Hurricane Preparedness Guidelines
The hurricane season in Florida is June 1 through November 30. A long time. A hurricane is the most powerful storm on earth. Statistics show that the majority of people living in hurricane prone areas have never experienced a major hurricane. Many of these residents have been through weaker storms or hurricane fringes and have developed false strength impressions…leading to apathy and a lack of preparedness.
Tropical Storms & Hurricanes
On average, about 10 named tropical storms develop each hurricane season. About half of these strengthen into hurricanes. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with winds exceeding 74 MPH, originating in the tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico. There are 5 strengths of hurricanes. They are categorized based upon their sustained winds, with Category 1 being the weakest and Category 5 being the most powerful. Here in Central Florida there are 3 distinct hazards to us from hurricanes:
WINDS: Most vulnerable from winds are trees, power lines, signs, manufactured homes, recreational vehicles, and homes and businesses with unprotected windows.
TORNADOS: Hurricanes can spawn numerous tornados without warning and add to the destructive potential of the hurricane. Many can develop after the Hurricane has passed.
RAIN/FLOODING: Hurricanes and tropical storms can produce 6 to 8 inches or more of rain in 24 hours or less producing flash flooding in many residential areas.
Know What to Do Before June 1
Know the difference between a hurricane WATCH and a hurricane WARNING.
WATCH: Means Hurricane conditions may hit your WATCH area usually within 36 hours. Put your hurricane plan into action.
WARNING: Means Hurricane conditions are expected to hit your WARNING area usually within 24 hours. All precautions should be taken.
ASSEMBLE A DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT:
- Cell phone, check cell phone battery
- Battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, candles
- First aid kit and essential medications, medical history record
- At least three gallons of water per person, bucket (to flush toilets)
- Canned food, manual can opener, paper towels & plates, drinking cups & napkins
- Matches in water proof container, waterproof bags, including zip locks
- Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags
- Hygiene and sanitation products
- Road maps
- Special items: Disposable diapers for youngsters or incontinent adults; O2 bottles for oxygen dependent.
- Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so.
IN ADDITION, REMEMBER:
- IDENTIFICATION: Every person should have identification on them at all times.
- MEDICINES: Make sure you have a minimum of a three week supply.
- MONEY: Keep a list of all bank account numbers. Have enough money accessible to purchase necessities. Banks will be closed and credit cards will not be accepted until phone lines and electricity are restored.
- INSURANCE: Your lease requires you to have rental insurance. Make sure you have adaquate rental coverage for all your personal needs. Keep in mind your insurance company will probably require proof of the cost of any item for which a claim is made. Photographs and/or videotapes are good ways to provide an accurate visual record.
- ORDERED EVACUATION: Prepare a family home evacuation plan.
Know What to Do When a Hurricane Watch is Issued
Double check your Disaster Supplies Kit list. Listen to NOAA Weather radio or local radio or TV stations for up-to-date storm information. Prepare to bring inside any lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by the wind. Prepare to cover all windows of your residence. If shutters have not been installed, purchase plywood to cover large windows. Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended. Locate a safe place to store gas grills and propane or LP gas tanks. If damaged in a storm, they become a leaking, potential bomb. They must be tied down in areas subject to flooding to prevent them from becoming floating mines. Fill your car’s gas tank. If you plan to board your pet(s), survey the kennels to determine specific locations and requirements. Most boarding facilities require proof of up-to-date vaccinations, and a properly fitted collar with a current license (identification) and rabies tag before they will take your pet(s). If you plan to leave your pet(s) at home, survey your home and determine the best location away from windows to place you pet(s) during a storm emergency, such as a utility room, bathroom, kitchen or other tiled area which can be easily cleaned. Provide access to high places such as a counter top, in case of flooding. Plan feeding animals by leaving dry type foods that are relatively unpalatable to prevent over eating. Leave water in bathtubs or other sturdy containers that will not spill.
Know What to Do When a Hurricane Warning is Issued
Listen to the advice of local officials and leave if they tell you to do so. Complete preparation activities. If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows. Disconnect all electrical appliances and equipment, except refrigeration. Close all windows and draw blinds or drapes. Be aware that the calm “eye” is deceptive; the storm is not over. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and winds blow from the opposite direction. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and other objects damaged by the first winds can be broken or destroyed by the second winds. Be alert for tornados. Tornados can happen during a hurricane and after it passes over. Remain indoors, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows. Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. As a rule of thumb, don't drive into water that's too deep to see the painted markings on the road. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car and climb to higher ground.
Know What to Do When an Evacuation Order is Issued
Identify ahead of time, where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places... a friend’s home in another town, a motel or shelter. Determine to leave early before roads become congested or impassable. Allow for three times the normal driving time. Only take a seven day supply with you for each person when you evacuate. Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your locality. You may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Pack personal items and important papers such as insurance information, medical information, doctor information, etc. If you elect to go to a shelter, remember shelters are not hotels. You will not be permitted to check into and out of a shelter as if it were a hotel. They will not be able to provide you with any convenience or luxuries. Bring your family’s Disaster Supply Kit to ensure proper provisions. Weapons and liquor are not permitted in shelters. Under no circumstances are pets allowed in Red Cross shelters. The only exceptions are dogs for the hearing or visually impaired. If time permits, make an inventory of all moved items to ease unpacking after the storm. Ensure that you have an adequate supply of waterproof bags for your important papers, cash, household inventory, insurance policies, photo albums, and other personal materials. Prepare your vehicle with topped-off fuel tank, oil and water. Fill tires and spare to recommended tire pressure. Refill your vehicle gas tank at the first opportunity. If you have a pool, super chlorinate it. Do not empty the water. Moor your boat and remove or lower Biminis and antennas. If you leave your boat on a trailer, deflate tires and tie boat down. Remove instruments, fill the tank with fuel, and fill the oil reservoir. Remove loose seat pads and covers. Before leaving the property, check that the exterior of the building is secure. Lock all doors before you leave. Be sure to tell a friend or relative that is outside the storm area where you are going and how to get in touch with you. Prepare a message on your answering machine for relatives who might try to reach you. Lastly, review all items on your list to assure that none have been overlooked. THROUGHOUT- REMAIN CALM
Remaining in Your Home or Condominium?
If you elect to stay, bear in mind that you probably will not have fire, EMS, or law enforcement support during the peak of the storm or for some time after. If you are one of the doubters and think that you will be safe in remaining, we can only offer suggestions:
HOME RESIDENTS: Find the safest place in your home. An interior room, closet or bathroom without windows is much more preferable than an exterior room with sliding glass doors and windows. Bring mattresses and move supplies into the safe room before the storm hits. Make sure you have a portable radio and flashlights with spare batteries and a sturdy pair of shoes for each member of your family. There may be plenty of broken glass, nails and other debris that could injure you after the storm passes.
CONDOMINIUM RESIDENTS: Although most levels of condominiums are above the storm surge, they do present unique problems and responsibilities inasmuch as wind velocity increases with height. Residents in upper floors, especially the elderly or those with mobility problems, should seek refuge on the lower floors, a safe area – above the second level – before the electricity goes out and elevators are inoperative. Don’t forget to take your Disaster Supplies Kit plus a chair to sit on in the stairwells or hallways. Before you leave your condo unit, remove all loose items from your terrace or porch such as patio furniture, plants, wall hanging, etc. Close and lock all windows, and sliding glass doors. Close shutters. Close blinds, curtains and drapes and move furniture away from windows.
FROM HOME or CONDOMINIUM safe area, continue to monitor the course of the storm by listening to NOAA Weather Radio or the local radio station. Use only battery operated lanterns in your safe room. Flames from candles can cause fires. Once the electricity goes out it is going to get hot and sticky. Try to get used to it because electricity may be out for hours, weeks or even months. The electric utility company will try to restore power as rapidly as possible. Try to remain calm for your own benefit and for other family members. The roaring noise from hurricane force wind and rain will be extremely unnerving. Add the sound of debris crashing into your home or building and the noise will be terrifying. Prepare your family as best you can in advance for these possibilities. Remain indoors away from windows until the “All Clear” has been given. If the “eye” of the storm passes over your area, the winds become calm and the sun may be shining, don’t be lulled into thinking the worst is over. The winds will become extremely strong again from the opposite direction. STAY INSIDE.
Know What to Do After a Hurricane is Over
After the hurricane passes, expect the worst but hope for the best. Depending on the intensity of the storm, damage will range from light to catastrophic. Many measures that you used in preparation for the hurricane will, hopefully, limit damages to your property. Common sense should prevail when returning to a storm-damaged home. Be extremely careful when using generators, chain saws, heating and lighting appliances. The electricity utility warns that generators should never be connected to the main breaker box in your residence. Keep listening to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for instructions. If you are evacuated, return home when local officials tell you it is safe to do so. Inspect your home for damage. Use flashlights at all times; agan, avoid using candles. Stay clear of downed lines in your yard or in the street. Help keep the utility telephone lines clear for emergency calls. All tenants should contact their own insurance carrier and report damages as soon as possible to their property manager.
Russell Properties, Inc. Procedures
Russell Properties office personnel and managers will report to the corporate office as soon as possible after the officials say it is safe to go outdoors. Maintenance and vendor personnel will have been on alert and if safe to do so, report to their respective property managers for “post hurricane” instructions. Before any cleanup begins please report any damage to Russell Properties and what assistance is needed. Russell Properties personnel are the only ones authorized to contract with cleanup and maintenance vendors. As Russell Properties has its own independent contractors, we do have management agreements with our clients who require (non-emergency) damage assessment notifications and estimates. Russell Properties office will notify individual insurance carriers and get claim numbers and claim representative’s names, phone numbers, and email contacts. All work should be authorized by claim representatives prior to any contract being signed other than any emergency work order authorized by Russell Properties. Our office will make every effort necessary to contact Owner(s) ASAP of damaged residences. Provide “post hurricane” assessments reports on damaged residences and any work necessary or in progress.
Important Telephone Numbers/Websites
- Emergencies 911
- Disaster Information Help line 800-525-0321
- F.E.M.A. 800-462-9029
- Florida Emergency Information Line 800-342-3557
- Tenant's “My Family Disaster Plan” - http://www.floridadisaster.org/family/
- FEMA Hurricane Website - http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
- National Weather Service Hurricane Center - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
- Red Cross Disaster - http://www.redcross.org/disaster/safety/guide/hurricane