As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida families are strapping in for the nightmare roller coaster ride of their lives. With the Category 5 hurricane expected through the Florida Keys and a path which looks as though it will rake the entire west coast, things are looking ominous.
Before Hurricane Irma
We all have about 24 hours left to finalize preparations and make our properties as safe and secure as possible. Now is the time to clear up your yards and collect anything which could become a missile when this hits.
Roofing, building, construction materials and excess pieces of wood and nails used during preparations need to be brought inside and secured in a room away from your family.
Terrace furniture should be put in your pool or brought inside the property.
If you use gas bottles, make sure that they are turned off, disconnected and secured in a room away from the family.
Find time to place copies of all personal and financial paperwork online. Should your property be damaged or be flooded, you will still be able to access important information. This includes passports, driving licenses, ID’s, credit card and banking information.
If you can get through try and increase your credit limit as things could be a mess for several weeks. Withdraw sufficient cash to last you a week or so.
For many the main form of communication during and after Hurricane Irma will be cell phone and internet. Ensure that your devices are fully charged and the same with extra batteries if you have them.
We expect many telephone landlines to be down and recommend downloading, Skype, WhattsApp and or Zello all of which are free to download. If there is a decent signal, at least you will be able to stay in contact.
Once you have secured your family and your own property, help your neighbors. Many older residents will struggle with both the preparation and aftermath of the hurricane.
During Hurricane Irma
While the hurricane passes, find a secure place – a bathroom is ideal – and remain indoors. Wherever you choose to hole up ensure that you can get out. Rising waters could trap you if not prepared. Move all furniture and heavy items away from the room where you intend to stay and preferably place them in another room behind a closed door.
If the eye is due to pass directly overhead head remember that their will be a period of time where it will appear as though the hurricane has passed. This will be the eye of the storm and at this point you are only halfway through.
Take a few minutes to inspect your property and make secure anything which could become airborne. Then get back inside again and buckle up.
Depending on where Hurricane Irma tracks, you could be suffering hurricane force winds for up to 12 hours. During this time there will be a lot of noise, the temperature will probably fluctuate rapidly and the air pressure drop could be felt in your chest. There is also the risk of tornadoes.
Keep any required medication with you and administer as necessary.
Although you will not feel like it remember to drink plenty of water in order to remain hydrated and eat on a regular basis. Fruit and nuts will provide energy and nutrients. Stay away from alcohol. Children will need to be kept occupied. Coloring, drawing and board games will help distract them.
After Hurricane Irma
If you plan on using a generator once the storm has passed, ensure that there is plenty of ventilation as dangerous and toxic fumes will creep up on you before you know it. Ideally your generator should be placed outside of the home.
Check on your family and deal with minor injuries yourself. Unless a situation is life threatening do not call emergency services.
Make a tour of your property and immediately remove or secure any items which could cause injury through collapse. Isolate electricity if there is any sign of damage to wiring in the property, outside of the property or in the street. Do not attempt to remove downed cables unless you are a professional who knows what you are doing.
Check with your neighbors, especially people who live alone or the elderly.
Make a tour of their property and immediately remove or secure any items which could cause injury through collapse.
Isolate electricity if there is any sign of damage to wiring in the property, outside of the property or in the street.
Text message family members to let them know you are OK. Try not to use phone lines as they will be either down or very busy.
Tidal surge will add to the rainfall and this could cause extensive flooding in your area. Secure your belongings so they do not cause damage to property or impede emergency services.
Whenever possible try to remain dry. Should flood water get into the sewerage systems,bacteria can cause serious issues. If you need to go outside into flood water, rinse off and change your clothes once back inside.
Keep all pets either in a cage or on a leash before, during and after the storm. They will not understand what is occurring and their natural instinct could be to run. Keep them calm, watered and fed.
Make sure that you have video and or photographs of your entire property and belongings before Hurricane Irma hits. Being able to show documented proof of before and after will assist insurance companies and assessors. If you have receipts of items from clothing to household goods through to big ticket purchases, put them online so you have proof.
Several of the areas already hit by Hurricane Irma are now suffering from looters. Try to put some form of neighborhood watch in place with your neighbors to avoid this.
That’s all I can think of for now. Stay safe!