In 2017, we on the Treasure Coast in Florida witnessed the wrath of Category 4 Hurricane Irma. St. Lucie, for one, endured a recorded 21.7 inches of rainfall, with top wind speeds of 100 mph.
There’s a lot to love about Florida and its tropical climate is perfect for enjoying the beaches and coastal destinations year-round. But when we talk about rainy days, we know we can’t help but talk about hurricanes—it’s a part of life here.
In this article, we will discuss 4 important things to remember about hurricanes and how to be prepared for them.
1. Know Your Facts
First, you need to know your hurricane terms. Storm conditions vary in terms of size, intensity, and even angle from which the storm will approach a specific area.
For starters, a tropical depression is a cyclone with winds of up to 38 mph. Tropical storms, on the other hand, have wind speeds between 39 and 73 mph while hurricanes have wind speeds of 74 mph and above.
Other terms you might also hear include the following:
- Hurricane watch - Hurricane conditions may be experienced in the area
- Hurricane warning - Hurricane conditions are to be expected in the area
- Eye of the storm - The center of the storm where conditions may be calmer
- Eye wall - The part of the storm surrounding the eye, which brings the most severe weather conditions
- Flood watch - Issued when conditions are likely to result in flooding
- Flood warning - Issued when flooding is imminent or already occurring
- Tornado watch - Issued when conditions are likely to result in severe thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes
- Tornado warning - Issued when a tornado has already been spotted
2. Assemble an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit is something that you should keep close, in a spot that you can easily find.
It must contain first aid supplies, medicines, a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, and at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food and water.
You should also pack towels, warm clothes, some cash, and a can opener if you’re packing canned food. It might help to have a basic mobile phone in there, too.
Additionally, the emergency kit should be handy and portable enough for you to easily grab when it’s time to evacuate.
3. Secure Your Home
You can already prepare and secure your home even before a hurricane watch or warning is issued. The National Hurricane Center suggests that you assess your home’s vulnerability to flooding, wind, and storm surge. This way, you can perform necessary precautionary measures.
Here are some things you can do to minimize damage to your home during a hurricane:
- Protect your windows. Plywood boards are the least expensive solution and they can be put up even without drilling, as shown on this video. If you want a permanent reinforcement, you can install storm shutters, which give ample protection while adding style to your home at the same time. If you’re up for some window upgrades, you should consider getting high-impact window glass. They can resist the strongest of winds without compromising form and function.
- Secure the roof. If we’re expecting a really strong hurricane, you might want to have secure straps and clips in place.
- Strap down outdoor furniture and other items. If there are items that can’t be strapped down, just put them inside before a hurricane comes.
- Reinforce your doors, including garage doors.
- Regularly trim trees and shrubs.
- Get regular home inspections to make sure that weak spots are found and addressed immediately!
4. Develop a Family Plan
When worse comes to worst, you might find yourself needing to evacuate. You might also end up separated from other family members for some reason. The anxiety that such scenarios could bring can be overwhelming, but you can lessen the worry by knowing that every family member knows your communication and evacuation plan.
Sit down with your family and come up with answers to the following:
How will you contact each other if separated during a hurricane? It might help to have backup phones and numbers in case landline service is down. You might even find handheld radios useful at these times.
How will you get back together? Set a rendezvous point that everyone knows and will possibly remain accessible during a hurricane.
Where is the closest evacuation shelter? How will each of you get there? Pay attention to news broadcasts to get evacuation details.
As your trusted Port St. Lucie REALTOR®, I'm not just here to help sell your home or assist you in buying a new home. I also want to help keep you and your property safe, too—all year round! If you want more tips on hurricane preparedness, get in touch with me today!