Hurricane Preparation Guide
> Download our Hurricane Preparedness Seminar PDF
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. The state of Florida can be threatened anytime during this season. It’s never too soon to begin preparing for potential emergencies.
The following are definitions to terms commonly used during the hurricane season:
- A Hurricane Warning is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
- A Hurricane Watch is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
- Tropical Depression means a cyclone with winds of less than 39 miles per hour or 34 knots.
- Tropical Storm means a cyclone with winds from 39 to 73 miles per hour or 34 to 63 knots.
- Hurricane means a cyclone with winds of greater than 74 miles per hour or 64 knots.
The first 72 hours after an emergency is the most critical period. Basic infrastructure, communications and transportation systems may be challenged, inoperable or inaccessible and the steady flow of supplies such as gas, ice, water, medicine and food may not be readily available. The first line of preparedness for any emergency is to plan to meet your, your families’ or your organization's basic survival needs for 72 hours.
BEFORE THE STORM
The key to preparedness is having a Disaster Plan ready to implement when emergency strikes. The following items will help you better understand what your Disaster Plan should be comprised of.
- Discuss the types of hazards that could affect your family/facility. Understand your home’s and surrounding area’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
- Determine where you will ride out the storm and familiarize yourself with area shelter locations in the event you need to evacuate.
- Determine a “safe room” within your location. In certain circumstances, the safest areas may not be your home but within your community. This “room” should be one away from windows. Bathrooms and/or closets are examples of some typical “safe room” choices.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles. For evacuation routes, and county pick up sites, please call 311.
- Designate an out-of-state friend or family member as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
- Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate, and make sure their registration and vaccinations are current and that you keep a copy of this documentation readily available.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by your phone and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
- Check your insurance coverage.
- Have all of your important documents including deeds, identification, and insurance papers and contact information in a safe and waterproof location.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
- Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.
- Have your Family Disaster Plan in place.
- Remove loose debris before storm season begins. Make sure balcony drains/scuppers are clear and unobstructed from any debris (i.e. dirt, leaves, etc.) to will prevent water from accumulating on your balconies and possibly entering your home through the sliding doors.
- Lay towels or other absorbent materials along the inside of the sliding doors and windows during any severe rain storm to prevent water intrusion
- Bring in or secure patio furniture.
- Turn off or unplug any non-essential electrical equipment.
- Do not put out trash or debris for pick up once a Hurricane Watch or Warning is issued. Any trash or debris must be brought in and/or secured until after the storm.
- Stay tuned to the radio and television for weather updates.
- If you are asked to evacuate, do so ASAP!
- Please note, if you must use an open flame such as canned heat (sterno) for warming or cooking, do not wear loose fitting, flammable garments. Use the canned heat with extreme caution and in the sink only.
- Make sure you have one phone that is not dependent on electricity (non-cordless)
- Make sure you fill up your gas tank before the storm
- Keep a supply of sturdy garbage bags and ties should also be available. If you live in an apartment or condo, all refuse should be bagged, sealed, and stored in your unit. Do not dispose of any garbage in trash chutes after a Hurricane Warning. There will be no garbage pickup, and accumulated garbage in trash container room and chute will create a serious fire hazard. Insects and rodents may access the building from the lower trash room if the garbage is allowed to back up.
DISASTER SUPPLY KIT
Every resident should create an emergency hurricane kit. The following is a useful checklist of items to include in your kit:
- Sufficient supply (2-weeks) of prescription medication, if applicable, should be available
- A supply of non-perishable foods should be obtained (enough for each person) i.e. canned meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, dried fruits, nuts, cereal, crackers, cookies, coffee, tea, powdered drinks, and powdered/evaporated/boxed milk
- A manual can opener
- Baby supplies: food and/or formula Diapers, and supplies
- First-aid kit and other over the counter medications and pain relievers
- Toiletries: Toothpaste, toothbrush and other items
- Toilet paper, feminine supplies, etc.
- Soap, liquid detergent, disinfectant and bleach
- Several flashlights or battery operated lanterns, as well as extra replacement batteries should be on hand
- A portable battery operated radio and a supply fresh batteries
- Cash (with some small bills) -- enough for 72 hours
- Tools including shut-off wrench, pliers, nails, and rope
- Matches in waterproof container
- Gasoline and/or Fuel for generators & cars in approved containers
- Plastic storage containers
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- Camera and film
- Clothing (one complete set per person with sturdy shoes)
- Insulin, cooling system and supplies for those with diabetes
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses and supplies (if appropriate)
- Pet Supplies: Food and water (72 hour supply) and other pet care items
- A supply of disposable paper plates, cups, and utensils as limited water supplies will be too precious to waste on dishwashing.
DURING THE STORM
- Stay indoors until the “all clear” is issued.
- Keep a battery-powered radio with you so you can listen for updates and tracking of the storm.
- Use your telephone for emergencies only
- Turn your refrigerator up to the coldest setting in order to preserve foods as long as possible after the power fails. Avoid unnecessary opening and closing of refrigerator and freezer doors which will accelerate spoilage
- Be certain to have a proper size rubber stopper to complement the metal stopper in your bathtub
- Prepare your emergency water supply before the hurricane strikes. Have clean, air-tight containers on hand to store at least two weeks worth of drinking water (seven gallons per person). Estimate two quarts of drinking water per person per day. Additionally, sterilize the bathtub, jugs, bottles, cooking utensils and other containers. Scrub thoroughly, sponge and swab with bleach, then rinse. Be sure to use regular bleach and not lemon or other scented products. Let the tub and other containers dry, then fill them with water. This water can be used for sanitary purposes
- Keep your windows closed
- In case of broken windows, or damage to your home, retreat to your “safe room” and take cover
AFTER THE STORM
You’re first concern after the storm is the safety and health of your family and loved ones. Please use caution and be aware of safety issues to ensure the wellbeing of your family.
- Check for injuries and address the injured
- Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, unsafe buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors
- Keep a battery-powered radio with you to listen for emergency updates and news reports
- Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies
- Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects, downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks
- Use caution when assessing the damage to your home and property
- When clearing debris, please remember to separate natural vegetation from regular garbage to facilitate the clean up process
- Once you have assessed the damage, contact your insurance company and/or FEMA if appropriate
- Office and maintenance staff will return to the community within 24 hours after an “all clear” is given.
This Hurricane Preparation Guide was created with the assistance of the State of Florida, Miami-Dade County, and City of Miami outreach offices and websites and should be kept readily available during Hurricane Season.