Hurricanes have often been called "The Greatest Storms on Earth." These powerful storms can travel across water and land, wreaking havoc on neighborhoods in their path.
In addition to having an evacuation plan in place, you should also be familiar with hurricane-related hazards, especially if you choose to ride out the storm at home. Here are four common hurricane-related hazards and what you can do to protect your home and family.
Storm surge is a deadly rush of ocean or Gulf water caused by strong wind gusts. Storm surge is capable of reaching heights of over 20 feet and stretching hundreds of miles in length, making it the greatest threat to life and property along Florida coastlines during a major storm.
- Find out the elevation of your property and whether the land is flood-prone so you can know how your property will be affected when storm surge is forecast.
- Listen to your local emergency news station for information on the progress of the storm.
- Before evacuating, unplug appliances, turn off water at the main valve, and deactivate electricity at the breaker box.
- Never attempt to drive through flowing water. It only takes 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, and 2 feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles.
Heavy Rain and Flooding
Tropical cyclones often produce torrential rainstorms, which may cause deadly and destructive floods. Intense rainfall over a short period of time can result in flash flooding, while longer-term flooding in rivers and streams can last several days after the storm has passed.
- Find out the elevation of your property and whether the land is flood-prone.
- When approaching water on a roadway, always remember to Turn Around Don't Drown.
- Clear clogged gutters and rainspouts, and make sure they are properly secured to your home.
- Losses due to flooding are not typically covered under most homeowner’s insurance policies. Add a Florida Flood Insurance policy to ensure complete protection of your home in case of a flood.
Hurricane‐force winds are powerful enough to destroy buildings and mobile homes, and can maintain their strength well inland. In 2004, Hurricane Charley made landfall on the coast of Southwest Florida and caused major damage across central Florida, with wind gusts of more than 100 mph.
Atlantic and Eastern Pacific hurricanes are classified into five categories under the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
, which estimates potential property damage according to the hurricane's sustained wind speed.
- Set aside two hours on a Saturday morning to organize and label your storm shutters, and practice installing them.
- Clear low-hanging or dead tree branches to reduce the risk of "flying missiles."
- Before a storm strikes, install aluminum hurricane shutters on your home. If you don’t have aluminum hurricane shutters, board up windows and doors (including garage doors) with plywood.
- Bring in outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that isn’t tied down. Secure or remove large objects, such as grills and potted plants, from around your yard.
Hurricanes and tropical storm systems can also spawn tornadoes, which typically develop in thunderstorms well away from the eye of the storm. However, they can also form near the eye wall. While these tornadoes tend to be relatively weak and short-lived, they still pose a serious threat. Protect your home and family in the event of a tornado with these top tips.
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Regularly trim your trees and clear any low-hanging or dead branches to reduce the risk of "flying missiles."
- Select an interior "safe room" with no windows, such as a bathroom or walk-in closet. In the event that your roof develops a hole or completely blows off, have a mattress readily available in the safe room to function as a barrier against flying debris and wind.
- Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio or your local news station for information and updates.