Preparing for Hurricane Irma in Florida

Preparing for Hurricane Irma in Florida

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.

Gather Supplies

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.

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