As with any emergency situation, having a plan in place and executing it when needed is the key to safety and survival. Follow this 10-Step Checklist to help get you and your family through a hurricane.
STEP 1: Hold a Family Meeting and Create a Communications Plan
Discuss potential hazards associated with hurricanes with the entire family and encourage children to talk about their fears. You should explain some of the things you will be doing to keep everyone safe should a storm threaten our area.
Make a plan to secure your home and detail who is responsible for each activity to ensure it gets done.
Make an Emergency Communications Plan so all family members know where to go and who to contact should you become separated. It’s best to select one out-of-state and one local contact for family members to call if separated by a disaster. Remember, it’s often easier to call out-of-state than within the affected area, and texting may be easier than calling.
STEP 2: Discuss Shelter Options
Determine where you will go if a storm threatens our area. If you choose to stay home, gather enough supplies to ensure your household’s food, water and medical needs. See the Emergency Supply Kit Checklist. If you plan to travel out of town, do so well in advance of the storm to avoid major traffic.
If you expect to seek shelter in a General Population Shelter, remember that public shelters should be your last resort and provide only for basic needs. You are responsible for bringing adequate supplies — including personal hygiene items, bedding, snacks, clothing, medicines and baby supplies — for you and your family. Not all shelters are open for every storm event, so call 311 or monitor local news to confirm shelter information in the event of a storm watch or warning.
STEP 3: Ensure Your Assets Are Protected
Inventory your home possessions and videotape or photograph items of value, including cars, boats and recreational vehicles.
Review your insurance policies to ensure you have adequate coverage. You will not be able to change your insurance policy once a storm watch or warning takes affect in South Florida.
Keep important records, such as passports and birth certificates, as well as insurance policies, vehicle titles, photo/video inventory of your homes, etc. in a waterproof or fireproof container.
STEP 4: Assess Your Home for Vulnerable Areas
Conduct a walk-through of your home and property to evaluate your roof, windows, garage door, landscaping, etc. to determine what actions need to be taken now to secure your home prior to a storm threatening the area. Determine what might need to be done to secure vulnerable areas should a hurricane watch go into effect.
If you do not have impact-rated doors and windows, you may consider using shutters or plywood to protect them from objects that may become projectiles during the storm, and to prevent damage caused by sudden pressure changes. Use extreme caution when working on a ladder. Many severe injuries, and even fatalities, are caused by falls from ladders before and after a storm.
STEP 5: Make a Plan to Protect Your Vehicles
Decide where you’ll park or store your vehicle, boat or recreational vehicles. Take photos or videos of your vehicles. Check your vehicle insurance policies and keep them and the photo/video record in the same safe waterproof and fireproof container as your homeowner’s policy and other important records.
STEP 6: Secure Your Home
Decide what actions you’ll need to take to protect your home and property (install shutters, check generator, trim trees, etc.), and to keep as comfortable as possible during recovery.
Basic home preparation tips:
- DO NOT TRIM TREES during a Hurricane Watch or Warning, as trimmings may not be picked up and can easily become projectiles.
- Secure all outside objects. Bring loose items inside (patio furniture, garden tools, planters, etc.)
- Protect your windows. Permanent shutters or impact windows are the best protection.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Purchase or make additional ice.
- Fill bathtubs and any large containers with water for washing, cleaning and flushing toilets, since electric power may go out of service, which may impact water service.
STEP 7: Determine Whether Anyone in Your Home Has Special Needs
Discuss whether anyone in your home is elderly or has special medical needs and if so make arrangements in advance to accommodate those needs.
Read more on Broward County Emergency Preparedness for Residents at Risk.
STEP 8: Make a Plan for Your Pet
Make a plan for your pet in case you choose to evacuate. Be sure to plan for large animals such as horses, or exotic pets.
See information provided by Broward County on Evacuation Shelters, including the Pet-Friendly Shelter.
STEP 9: Gather Your Supplies
Determine your family's food, water and medical needs and assemble your family's Emergency Supply Kit according to those needs.
STEP 10: Notify Others of Your Plan
Let family and friends know what your hurricane plan is so they can check on you in the aftermath of the storm.
Inform your out-of-state contact (see Step 1) that they will be the family point of contact for your household in case of separation and be sure to make contact with them prior to the storm.