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Ceil Brown Realty - Storm Prep

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Copyright 2005 The Miami Herald

STORM PREPS  

Tropical storms and hurricanes are a fact of life in South Florida.  Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, peaking between mid-August and mid-October.

With the most stringent building codes for storm protection in the United States, we're the best prepared in the nation.  Also, the steps residents take are part of that preparation.  We've provided many of the resources you need right here.

Take some guidance from an associate who's lived here 35 years and continues to build on his experiences to prepare for the next storm...like being without power for three weeks following Hurricane Wilma in October, 2005

He had all his supplies and FEMA provided him with a generator.  Prepare to be on your own for 72 hours?  Better to prepare to be on your own for 1-2 weeks.  His other suggestions:

  • Stock up on water, figuring a gallon per person/pet per day.  Fill the bathtub with water for sanitary uses like flushing the toilet or cleaning dishes. FEMA no longer supplies ice.
  • Stock up with 1-2 weeks of canned goods and nonperishables - including pet food.  MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are available commercially and have a long shelf life.
  • Put perishables in the refrigerator or freezer and turn it to its maximum cold setting when the hurricane warning is issued for your area (24 hours before expected hurricane conditions).  They'll keep longer when the power goes out.  Since they're perishable, they'll be the first things you'll want to eat or discard after the storm.
  • Keep a gallon or two of water frozen in the freezer.  It will keep the freezer contents cooler longer and you'll have a source of cold drinking water. 
  • Keep your gas tank full during hurricane season and avoid the lines of panicked - sometimes angry - drivers who didn't fill up before the storm.
  • Taping windows is no protection from flying debris propelled by 50-100+ MPH winds.  Plywood is a relatively inexpensive, if imperfect, solution.  Don't wait to buy your plywood.  Do you really want to join the throngs jamming Home Depot or Lowes as the storm approaches?  Even better protection can range from Kevlar shades (the stuff used in bulletproof vests) to full-fledged shutters.  To keep your neighbors safe, bring anything inside that could become a deadly missle in hurricane winds.  If you wouldn't want to be hit by it on I-95, you don't want it loose in your yard.
  • Hitting the roads is a bad idea, unless you're in a coastal evacuation zone and ordered to leave.  You may recall the lines of traffic leaving Houston a few years ago.  You may be stuck in traffic, without water, food...and gas, when the storm hits and/or have no place to shelter once you arrive wherever it is to which you've evacuated.  Whether you choose to hit the road or stay home...
  • Invest in a First Aid kit.  Most injuries happen after the storm has passed as people try to navigate and clear yard debris.
  • Flashlights and radios are great.  Solar powered lights and radios are even better.  You can help save the environment and save on the cost/frustration of dealing with frantic shoppers trying to find batteries as a storm approaches. 
  • Give your cell phone a full charge.  Cell towers may be affected during the storm, so...
  • Have a simple plug-in phone on hand.  (Caveat: this won't work if you have VoIP on cable or standalone DSL line and no battery backup). When the power goes out, most cordless home phones or office phones won't work without electric or battery power for the base unit.  Simple "old school" plug-in phones draw their power from the phone line.  And you're therefore in luck if you still have a standard phone line.  More phone lines are buried than power lines and therefore more storm-resistant.
  • Kerosene lamps and candles are fire hazards, can emit noxious fumes...and a bad idea.
  • You'll likely be very hot, sweaty and uncomfortable if you're without power following a storm.  Invest in a backup generator and a few fans...even a portable air conditioner.  Keep the generator well away from the house and open windows.  Carbon monoxide is an oderless, colorless killer.
    UPDATE: You might consider investing in a window a/c unit you can run off the generator.  Unlike a portable, it's already set up to vent outside.  With some handywork, it can be fitted to the bottom of an awning window.  A small unit is only 11¼" high.  Finally, in regular use you can raise the temp of your whole-house central a/c, letting  the window unit cool a bedroom or home office...and taking some load off the central unit.
  • A grill is great for cooking those perishables...and bonding with the neighbors.  Like the generator, keep it outside away from the house and don't let the deadly fumes ventilate into the house.
The additional benefit to all these preparations - as those in earthquake zones like California will tell you - is that your household will be prepared year-round for almost any natural or manmade disaster. 

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