Floridians are pretty hard-wired when it comes to hurricanes and tropical weather. With hurricane season starting to peak in August through November, ending December 1. It should be top of mind now. In fact, 2022 is likely to be a turbulent one. The Department of Atmospheric Science at the University Colorado expects to see storm activity at a well-above average rate, with a high percentage of “hurricane days” and named storms.
For longtime residents, we know what to expect and what to do during the rough hurricane season. But what about those who are new to the area — or are first-time homeowners who’ve never had to think about it?
Here are some tips from those of us who have some battle scars.
Have a Hurricane Kit Ready
Don’t wait until a storm is coming to start shopping for essentials. Chances are, store shelves will be empty and prices high. Water is critical. Get more than you think you’ll need. Then double it. Then add more. You’ll need it for drinking and cooking, but also for washing and flushing, and often for more than just a day. Sometimes much more.
Other things to have on hand are things like non-perishable food, gas if you have a generator, flashlights and fresh batteries, a portable, fully-charged phone charger, hand sanitizer, and any medications you might need.
It Doesn’t Need to be a Named Storm to Cause Damage
Statistics don’t cause damage by themselves. A storm doesn’t need to have a name or a category rating to leave devastation in its path. Don’t become complacent just because you’ve been through worse, because storms don’t listen to reason. A house that went through a Category 3 last year unscathed might suffer considerable damage during this year’s tropical depression. It’s all about circumstances with storms, so don’t take anything for granted.
Know Your Evacuation Route
In the event that a storm is potent enough, there’s always the possibility of needing to evacuate before it makes landfall. Don’t count on Waze to get you through (if you struggle for a strong wifi signal on good days, what would you expect now?). Having an evacuation plan and knowing the route — or at least route options — will help you keep calm and ahead of the masses who are all headed out of the path of the storm.
Inspect the Outside of Your Home
One thing that might go overlooked is the health and overall condition of your trees. In strong storms, loose or dead branches may become missiles. Keep them well trimmed. Ask a professional to check the health of your trees to make sure that they’re up to the challenge of surviving a hurricane. Don’t put off that call. Tree companies generally are booked up early, particularly during hurricane season.
Naturally, it’s essential to take a critical eye to your home to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities that have been overlooked. The Achilles' Heel for most homes are the access points — the doors and windows. Stormproof doors and windows are essential in Florida, although not all homes have them as they should. Some have impact windows installed, which have the same appearance as regular windows. If you’re not sure what you have, a hurricane protection professional can let you know.
If you have older or damaged hurricane shutters, a professional installer can help guide you through the process of replacing them with something state-of-the-art and up to current building codes.
It also might simply be time for a style upgrade. Major exterior renovations or even simply a color change might signal a time to refresh your shutters. Perhaps you just don’t like accordion shutters and prefer roll down shutters. Maybe you want to change to clear storm panels for better visibility during a storm, or want to switch to hurricane screens to use them on clear days for better ventilation and to ward off the Southwest Florida daytime heat.
Wind Safe Shutters has a team of experienced professionals who can help your home survive a brutal hurricane season, whether you’re new to Florida, new to home ownership, or simply realize that there’s no time like the present to prepare your home for the worst that nature can throw at it.