June 1st is the first day of the 2023 hurricane season in the Eastern part of the United States. This season will continue all the way to November 30, 2023. Last year brought us two hurricanes (Ian and Nicole), which crossed the state with Orange County, FL being very close to the crossing point. Catastrophic flooding and high winds led to many residents being without power, flooding, and unable to receive assistance for several days. How can we prepare for the next hurricane? Below are a few suggestions and tips to consider.
Walk Around Your Property
Many of us love our landscape and have spent countless hours to nurture it. Our yards are also places of recreation (host gatherings, play games, etc.) and relaxation (garden, pool, etc.). Our landscape can be an enemy, however, during a hurricane. It is highly suggested that you walk around your entire property and see if anything could be or could cause a threat during a hurricane.
- Evaluate your trees – Reach out to a certified and insured arborist to evaluate your trees to see if there are any branches that would be susceptible to wind damage or are dead/dying that could fall. Properly maintaining your trees will not only assist the tree’s health, but it will also increase the likelihood of your house being protected as they will serve as a barrier from the wind to your house.
- Yard and Recreation Equipment – Anything that is loose in your yard such as small toys, furniture, grills, flowerpots, trampolines, hoses, etc., should be brought inside or, if unable to move, secured by tying down or anchoring. This limits these items from being projectiles during a hurricane.
- Pool Preparation – According to the Florida Swimming Pool Association, keep the water level the same – do not drain your pool. Due to the possibility of power loss, you should turn off the breaker for the pool and shock the pool by adding enough chlorine (or another chemical) to ensure that it will eliminate potential bacteria that may arrive with the hurricane. Some materials – not glass – could be stored in the pool (placed in the pool, not thrown), but only if you are unable to store inside.
- Screen Enclosures – Checking to see if there are any tears or holes in your lanai screens is very important because they could get drastically bigger by the wind or torn away completely. When the wind from a hurricane comes barreling in, you want to ensure that it has a path of least resistance to keep moving. After moving all the furniture inside, close and lock the doors.
Prepare the Inside (for those living inside)
Knowing that a hurricane is approaching is unsettling, especially when the meteorologists continually update you on the path, wind speeds, and what damages have occurred on the path. You cannot stop the inevitable, but you can be prepared for it. And now is the time to do it.
- Keeping Your Food Safe and Available – The big takeaway here is having access to food items that are non-perishable, such as canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, dry cereals, ready to eat soups/meats, fruit, and more. Keep in mind that any canned good will need to have a manual opener if it does not have a pull top lid. The items in your refrigerator/freezer should be fine for several hours if you lose electricity. According to the CDC, if the refrigerator/freezer doors stay closed: Four hours in the refrigerator; 48 hours in a full freezer and 24 hours in a half full freezer. IMPORTANT – For those in your family that have food allergies, special dietary needs, or the little ones (formula/baby food), make sure you have a plan for them too. Also, for our furry friends – ensure that you have an adequate amount of pet food available.
- Stockpile, Not Hoard – The common plan is to prepare for at least seven days. There should be a gallon of water available for each household member PER DAY. In past hurricane events, water was hard to find in the days leading up to the landfall. Ensure that you have a storage area that is large enough for this. Before a hurricane, it is wise to top off your automobile’s gas tank should an evacuation be necessary. If you have a gas grill, ensure that you have a full tank and a reserve (if possible) backup of propane to be able to cook the perishables should the power be out for an extended amount of time.
- Prepare your Kit – Start preparing now, not a few days before a disaster. If you wait until then, you may (or probably will) be out of luck. Think of the things that you might not think about – batteries, paper plates and plastic ware, antibacterial wipes, mosquito repellent, first aid kit, cash, portable battery chargers, toilet paper, etc. There are many more items that are unique to all our situations that we want to plan to have on hand. Use this UF/IFAS Extension checklist as a starting point.
There are many resources out there to aid you in preparing for a hurricane – take advantage of them and start planning your disaster prevention plan now.
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert
Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.