Natural disasters are often unpredictable and extremely damaging. With
Texans still recovering from the recent damage from Hurricane Harvey,
Florida residents are now preparing for the worst with Hurricane Irma
just a few days away. According to recent estimations, the storm is projected
to hit Southern Florida this coming weekend. With winds consistently set
around 185 mph, and gusts of up to 225 mph, Hurricane Irma is set at a
category 5 storm which is considered catastrophic and extremely dangerous.
Residents of Pinellas County, including those in Clearwater, are asked
to prepare for extreme weather conditions. Southern residents, including
those in the Florida Keys and Miami, are currently under a declaration
of emergency and numerous counties have been evacuated. In order to prepare
for the coming hurricane and possible evacuations, all Florida residents
should be prepared with an evacuation plan, a safe shelter, and a bag
of essential supplies and documents.
Make a Plan
To prepare for Hurricane Irma, the first thing residents should do is develop
a plan. Make sure you know where to go if your area is threatened by Irma,
and go over that plan in detail with your family. Know where nearby emergency
centers are, where your supplies are stored, and what part of your home
is the safest to seek shelter.
Find a Safe Place
Those threatened by the Hurricane directly should follow evacuation plans
and seek refuge in designated shelters. Or, it may be better to stay with
a friend or relative who is not threatened by Hurricane Irma. If you have
children, make sure they know where to go, and either take your pets with
you or find a safe, secure place for them.
If you are able to remain in your home, find the most secure place in your
house. Structures are typically more secure at their center and on the
first or second floor, especially under stairways or in rooms without
windows. Identify this safe room in your own home and make sure everyone
in your household is aware of where they should go in an emergency. Also,
store your supplies in this safe space.
Note: Manufactured homes are
never to be used as a safe shelter during a hurricane. If you live in a mobile
home, seek out your nearest storm shelter or ask to stay with a friend
or family member.
There are certain supplies everyone should have in the event of a natural
disaster. However, that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from
swarming local grocery stores to stock up on water bottles, plywood, generators,
and nonperishable foods. If you do not keep these supplies on-hand in
your home, make sure you obtain them. If your home is damaged or your
area loses power, a generator will help your family until help arrives.
Perishable food and water will also help in the most basic way, and plywood
can be used to help protect your home. If you or your family members take
medication, make sure you have a sufficient amount with you, and that
it is stored safely.
It is also a good idea to keep a first aid kit on hand, as well as changes
of clothes for yourself and your family members, flashlights, emergency
blankets, and other essentials. Store these supplies in your safe room,
and make packs of the essentials, such as food, water, flashlights, and
first aid kits, for each member of your family to grab if necessary.
Collect Legal Documents
In situations where you have time to prepare for an emergency, it is always
a good idea to gather all important legal documents. Make copies of your
most important documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates,
social security cards, wills and estate plans, passports, and any insurance
information. Also collect medical information, including the contact information
for your doctor and nearest hospital, any allergies, health history, and so on.
Make copies, or take photos of these documents and send them to trusted
relatives or friends. If you can, store the documents in a folder or weather-proof
document case and bring it with you if you evacuate.
Protect Your Home
Whether you are evacuating or remaining at home, you should do what you
can to protect your property. For the more prepared, there are storm shutters
and screens that can protect windows from hurricanes, though most last-minute
preparations rely on the use of plywood. In any case, close and board
up your windows to protect your home from strong winds and intense rain.
Keeping rain gutters clean and trees neatly trimmed can also greatly reduce
the damage to your home and make the storm easier to bear. Clean up debris
or other items that could become deadly projectiles in high winds and
stormy weather. Florida residents should bring in all lawn furniture or
outdoor items and store them indoors until the storm passes.
All vehicles should be packed up with emergency supplies and ready to go
in case of an evacuation. Pack an empty gas can in case you need to get
more gasoline and make sure your vehicle is in travel-ready shape.
For updates on Hurricane Irma, click here or visit CNN.com.
Contact Roman & Gaynor
to talk to our Clearwater personal injury attorneys.