PREPARING FOR HURRICANES AND OTHER SEVERE WEATHER
When hurricanes directly hit the Winter Haven area in 2004, total damages to the community grounds and property amounted to about $90,000. While these losses were covered under our commercial business insurance policy, many homeowners sustained substantial damage to their personal property and incurred substantial costs for repairs.
As a result, the Ruby Lake Board of Directors adopted a community hurricane plan in 2005 which includes:
- A web site page that informs residents about the dangers of climatic events such as hurricanes, tornados and severe lightning.
- A web page that provides a checklist of preparations before a hurricane strikes.
- A preparation plan for the Board members to follow to safeguard all community property and the common grounds.
- Signs that communicate warnings and suggest actions to be taken as a consequence of a hurricane.
- Maintenance of all community trees to make them less susceptible to wind damage and prevent further loss to common grounds and any residential property.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELVES AND YOUR PROPERTY
Many of us get caught up in the news and weather when a hurricane is mentioned or approaching, but do not prepare our own yards, houses or vehicles accordingly. Please keep in mind that many of us try to do all we can think of, in the short time we have available, but might overlook some areas to prepare effectively. The following are suggestions for items you might address, before the oncoming storms.
- Trim trees, as much as possible, to allow more wind to travel through them.
- Pick up all yard waste and dispose of it properly.
- Tie or stake plants, shrubs and trees to withstand the high winds that change direction.
- Check fences and gates to make sure they can withstand the heavy winds.
- Pick up any loose items that can turn into torpedoes in the wind. Pay particular attention to to various garden ornaments.
- Pick up all loose items and store in the garage.
- Store furniture in the garage or house. If pool furniture is capable of handling pool water, throw it in the pool.
- Drain pool approximately 10”, to allow for the oncoming torrential rains.
- Shock pool accordingly after lowering water level. Change filter valving to bottom drains only.
- Secure screen door latches.
- Check guide wires, and tighten if needed.
- Make sure all windows are closed and locked.
- Check gutters and downspouts for strength to endure the winds. Secure as needed.
- Cover exposed windows with plywood and/or hurricane approved panels, and secure as necessary. *See Note #1
- Sandbag all low or threatening areas from water entry. *See Note #2
- Make sure your BBQ gas tank is full of fuel.
- Note #1: Taping of windows will not keep windows from breaking but might help to prevent shattering. Duct tape is stronger than masking tape. Regardless of tape type used, remove tape immediately after storm, as the adhesive attaches to the window surface in the heat and is hard to remove.
- Note #2: Don’t trap yourself in the house with sandbags – allow several escape routes, and make sure everyone in household knows these routes.
- Have plenty of bottled water on hand – enough for one week for each person.
- Have adequate non-perishable food on hand, also enough for one week per person.
- Have enough pet food and supplies for your pet/s.
- Obtain enough of your medicines for a two week supply.
- Have a complete first aid kit always available.
- Open refrigerator and freezer doors as little as possible.
- Freeze in advance, freezable containers filled with water. Use these in cooler/s.
- Clean bathtub and fill with clean water, for emergency usage – keep bathroom door closed to protect children and pets from drowning. In a major emergency, the water in the toilet’s refill tank is relatively clean water.
- Have several fresh batteries on hand for your flashlights (make sure you have the proper sizes).
- Have emergency candles on hand, but only use with adult supervision, and only when awake. Use only when a person is in that room where candle is lit.
- Keep a portable (battery operated) TV or radio handy, to listen for storm updates. Of course, have plenty of batteries available for these also.
- Let family and friends know that you’re OK (when possible). If leaving your house to escape the area, make sure your friends/family are aware of this and know your travel route.
- Flush toilets as little as possible.
- Turn off circuit breaker for A/C unit during storm, to protect compressor.
- Clean house before storm approaches, as you may lose power during storm.
- Have your vehicles filled with fuel and oil, and readied for travel.
- If you have cell phones, make sure they have a full charge.
- Stay in inside area of house during storm, i.e. any room that does not have any outside walls (if possible).
- Make your work aware, if you are stranded at your house or just can’t go into work.
- Monitor the weather and news, to stay up on the storm and your local area.
- Know your Civil Defense “WARNING TONES”.
- If using a portable or fixed generator:
- Be sure it is properly wired to house.
- Shut off main breaker to eliminate back current into the public power grid.
- Check generator’s operation before the storm, and correct if needed.
- Have enough fuel and oil available to operate your generator, on and off, for one week.
- Check oil level before using.