Florida isn’t always fun and sun especially during the hurricane season that runs from early June to the end of November, which means Florida residents should be prepared for hurricanes or tropical storms six months out of the year. Many residents living in Key West and South Florida often drive further north to Central or Northern Florida, but that doesn’t mean Central Florida residents are in the clear of any natural disasters. It wasn’t too long ago in 2004 when Orlando felt the wrath of hurricanes Charley and Frances proving that Central Florida is not a hurricane-free zone. The recent impact Hurricane Dorian made shows that proper preparation is vital for you, your family, and your home. Normally residents are given only a few days warning before the hurricane hits so you should prepare throughout the year instead of waiting last minute. Here are 10 ways to protect your home and your family during a hurricane:
1. Hurricane windows and doorsYour windows and doors are some of the most vulnerable parts of your home especially in Central Florida where there are heavy rain and strong winds. Traditional windows and doors can weaken under harsh external elements. If your home has a lot of windows, then installing impact glass windows will help minimize damages. The last thing you want during a hurricane or tropical storm is your windows or doors to break decreasing your family’s safety. Call us at 321-436-9426 to schedule your free window replacement quote today.
2. Purchase or renew your insurance.Central Florida is susceptible to hurricane-force winds and tropical storms which is why having homeowners insurance is important. If you plan on purchasing homeowner’s insurance or already have one, make sure it includes wind or windstorm insurance. If you are in a FEMA flood zone, do your research and find out your options on flood insurance. Homeowners insurance is a necessary expense and investment that will help cover the costs of damages or replacements caused by a hurricane. Keep your homeowner’s insurance documents in a fireproof and waterproof safe. Also, take photos or videos of the interior and exterior of your home: windows, doors, garage, roof, front yard back yard, bedrooms, etc. This speeds up the insurance claim process should you need professional repairs, hire an experienced and reputable contractor such as CDS Contractors Inc. and provide them with a signed work authorization so they can be there when the insurance adjuster arrives to streamline the process of recovery.
3. Cut down or trim large trees.Regularly inspect your front yard and back yard for any weakened trees, fallen branches, or tree growth. Make sure to pick up all fallen tree branches, trim branches too close to your home, or cut down a weakened tree to avoid damages to your home and car. A tree can fall on your roof, through your window, on your cars, or even worse on your family. Have a professional inspect your yard for any hazards. Proper maintenance will also ensure that, in case your tree falls on a neighbor's property, you and your neighbor are properly covered and repair costs do not fall on you for negligence.
4. Have a generator and gasoline.Losing electricity is very common during a hurricane which is why you should always have a good quality generator ready for use should your electricity goes out. A generator will help keep your air conditioner and refrigerator running until the power company repairs the outage. A few days before the expected hurricane arrival, fill a few fuel tanks with gasoline for your generator and your car.
5. Make sure your roof is durable.An unreliable roof will put your home and your family’s safety at risk. The roof plays a very important role in a home because it keeps outside elements out while maintaining the integrity of the home. If your roof is several years old or is experiencing leaks, then get a contractor to inspect your roof to determine whether or not repairs or a complete replacement is needed. If damages are from before a storm, you may still have to pay a hurricane deductible, which is much higher than a regular claim deductible, if you file a claim after any named storm.
6. Reinforce your garage door.Strong hurricane winds can blow a garage door up, bringing in heavy rain and debris as well as cause havoc in your garage. Before the hurricane arrives, turn your garage power off and securely lock it. For more security, you can install a garage door hurricane reinforcement kit or a garage door brace to help keep your garage door shut during heavy winds. If your garage caves in or opens during a storm, the likelihood of your roof experiencing damage greatly increases.
7. Stock up on essentials. If you wait until the last minute there is a likely chance that the grocery store shelves will be empty. Once your area gives residents a hurricane warning, go to the store and stock up on essentials such as water, canned goods, snacks, candles, flashlights, can opener, batteries, first-aid kit, wipes, toilet paper, bug spray, and medicines. You should have enough water and food for at least three days or more. A good rule of thumb is a gallon of water per person per day. If you have pets, make sure they have enough water and food stocked as well. A couple of new board games or books will help keep your family entertained and alleviate stress and fear related to the hurricane.
8. Communication is key. Speak to your family, friends, and relatives before the hurricane arrives. Determine where you would go should your home gets hit by a hurricane. If you have relatives in a nearby state safe from the impending hurricane and they offer their home to you and your family, by all means, take their offer. Just make sure your home is secure before you head out of town. If you and your family decide to stay in your home to ride out the hurricane, then have an exit plan in place just in case. Each person should have a backpack filled with some clothing and any important belongings that can fit. Should your family have to evacuate, the bags are ready and waiting. Make sure all cell phones and battery packs are fully charged. Installing a walkie-talkie app is also a great idea just in case phones are down.
9. Have emergency cash. Just in case banks, ATMs, and credit card machines are down directly before, during, and right after a hurricane so you should have a reasonable amount of cash on hand. Many businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels will open, if they have no damages after a hurricane, but may not take credit cards temporarily due to their credit card processors being down which is why keeping a reasonable amount of cash is imperative.
10. Keep your important documents safe. Important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, insurance policies, car titles, documents showing ownership, or any other important documents should be kept in a safe place at all times especially right before a hurricane. The strong winds and heavy rains can cause damages to both the outside and inside of your home. These documents are important because they give proof of your identity and gives you legal claims. If your home is damaged by the hurricane you will want to call your insurance company as soon as possible but if your insurance policy is missing then your home repairs may be delayed putting your family’s safety and security at risk.