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Hurricane Dorian is Approaching Florida

Attention all Floridians: Hurricane Dorian is expected to make landfall in Florida in the afternoon of Monday, September 2nd. The wind and storms on the outer edge of the hurricane might be felt much earlier, though, as it crosses the Bahamas this weekend. It is also not exactly known where the Category 4 hurricane will make landfall. In other words, everyone in Florida needs to prepare for Hurricane Dorian.

The National Hurricane Center has described Hurricane Dorian as “extremely dangerous” and “life-threatening.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already heard reports of major retailers running out of emergency supplies, such as cases of water and nonperishable foods.

At Somera & Silva, LLP in Boca Raton, we wish the very best for our friends and community members in the days ahead. But we know that simply hoping for safety when Hurricane Dorian crosses Florida is not enough, which is why we are sharing some must-know hurricane preparedness safety tips and additional information. Preparation in the face of disaster builds safety for yourself and your family.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane Before It Hits

  • Check often for updates about the hurricane’s path as it approaches Florida. The National Hurricane Center has a useful tracker you can access as often as you want:
  • Locate the safest room in your house in case you get trapped inside your own home during the hurricane. Windowless, interior rooms on the lowest level that is not subjected to flooding are ideal. Instruct your family to gather all pets and meet in this room in case of an emergency.
  • Locate local emergency shelters and evacuation sites, which may become available to you for use if the hurricane is confirmed to be approaching your hometown.
  • Create a hurricane preparedness kit now to use during and after the hurricane hits. (We discuss this preparedness kit in more detail further on.)
  • Do what you can now to prepare your property for water and wind resistance. For example, you should clear your gutters and drains, as well as secure shutters tightly over all windows. You should also pull your vehicles into your garage, if possible.
  • Discuss a full evacuation and emergency plan with your family. When the hurricane is 36 and 18 hours away from your town, discuss this plan again, including new updates.

Preparing for a Hurricane Predicted to Hit Later Today

  • Charge your cellphone fully and do not use any data unnecessarily.
  • Tune into emergency radio and television broadcasts at least twice an hour for critical updates.
  • To protect food from unnecessary waste, turn freezers and refrigerators to the coldest setting and do not open unless absolutely needed. If power is lost, be careful when eating perishable foods that may have expired during the blackout.
  • Stay in your home if you have not been instructed by emergency personnel to evacuate. Tell people outside your current group where you are and where you intend to stay during the hurricane.
  • Evacuate all people and pets from your home if you are instructed to do so, using approved routes to designated evacuation centers. Emergency responders will have difficulty locating you in an evacuation zone, often due to the pretense that all people should be evacuated from it. Do not try to stay behind in your home if you have been given an evacuation order.

Staying Safe During a Hurricane

  • Evacuate if instructed by emergency radio broadcasts to do so.
  • If you are unable to evacuate, bring your family into the most secure room or storm shelter on your property, as previously mentioned.
  • Do not enter closed attics if flooding occurs. Always leave yourself an opportunity to leave your home and access open air.
  • Never try to walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. It only takes 6-to-12 inches of rushing water to cause you and your vehicle to wash away.
  • Avoid bridges over water whenever possible.

What to Do After a Hurricane Passes

  • Check emergency broadcasts and channels for updates, which will likely tell you when it is safe to leave or return to your property.
  • Work in pairs when assessing your property damage and during cleanup.
  • Avoid standing or moving through standing or flood water as much as possible. Downed powerlines may be concealed in the water, posing a life-threatening electrical hazard.
  • If safe to do so, shut off your property’s main electrical breaker for the time being.
  • Do not use your cellphone unless absolutely necessary. You won’t know when you will be able to charge it again.
  • Take pictures around your property to document the damage, which your insurance provider will want to see for your consequent property damage claim.

What Should Be in Your Hurricane Preparedness Kit?

The purpose of a hurricane preparedness kit is equipping you and your family with as many essential supplies as you will need in case you are trapped in your home after Hurricane Dorian and you can’t rely on emergency responders to help you any time soon. Ideally, you will actually have two preparedness kits: one to last two weeks in case you can’t be reached by emergency responders, and one to last three days in case you are forced to evacuate the area on your own. Tell everyone in your home where to access your hurricane preparedness kits, what they are for, and how to use individual items in them.

FEMA suggests you keep these supplies in your hurricane preparedness kit or kits:

  • Fresh water: One gallon per day per person; a two-week supply for just you should have 14 gallons of fresh water. You will want to practice water conservation during a disaster, but preparedness means having more than you might need, just in case.
  • Nonperishable food: Any food that can be eaten readily and without a heat source is ideal. Many canned foods can be eaten cold, and the can protects them from damage and contamination. Be sure to include food for any pets as well.
  • Flashlight with spare batteries: One flashlight per person is advised.
  • Self-powering radio: Hand-crank models are available that let you charge the battery as needed.
  • First-aid kit: Bandages, gauze, disinfectant, painkillers, medical tape, etc.
  • Toolkit: A single device that can perform the uses of a screwdriver, hammer, scissor, can opener, etc. Duct tape is extremely versatile and can be included. Gloves, goggles, and protective mouth covers can also be included.
  • Medication: Dosages should last one or two weeks, depending on the medication’s necessity.
  • Sanitation items: Toiletries and wipes to reduce the chances of infection or illness if trapped indoors for days.
  • Fuel: One gallon per vehicle required for evacuation, and one gallon per gas-powered generator.
  • Crucial documentation: Copies of emergency contact information, medical records, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc. that you won’t be able to easily retrieve afterwards.
  • Cash: Enough to purchase further emergencies supplies and rations in case banks and ATMs are inaccessible.

Be Prepared & Be Safe!

From all of us at Somera & Silva, LLP, please do all you can to protect yourself, your family, and others from hurricane hazards. Each year, Florida is hit by powerful hurricanes, but we always endure. Together, we will make it through Hurricane Dorian, too.