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Hurricane Safety: Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Property Against Storm Dangers


Arthur. Josephine. Paulette. Teddy. Those friendly names could put South Floridians at risk if they turn into tropical storms or hurricanes.

The National Weather Service issued 21 names for bad-weather events that form in the Atlantic this year, although forecasters predict far fewer. Despite the research, one never knows when a cyclone will threaten the Gold Coast.

Consumers should put a preparedness plan into place to ensure not only their safety but also that of their families and homes. While the season started June 1 – and runs through Oct. 31 – it’s not too late to start planning.

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Here are some tips. More can be found on the Palm Beach County Hurricane Preparedness Web Page:

Seal important papers in a waterproof box or plastic bags. Documents to consider: insurance policies, passports, tax information and wills.

Set the refrigerator to its coldest setting, and fill the bathtub with water.

Have flashlight batteries, garbage bags and kerosene lanterns onhand. Avoid using candles for fire-safety reasons.

Emergency planners encourage residents to stock enough nonperishable food to last two weeks, in addition to one gallon of drinking water per person, per day, for one week. Make sure there are food and water rations for pets, too.

Don’t forget the manual can opener, and buy a camp stove for cooking.

Check the home’s first-aid kit and make sure it has everything it should. Fill needed prescriptions.

If a baby is in the house, have lots of disposable diapers, formula and medicines.

Get cash, as electronic ATMs might be out of commission and / or inaccessible after a storm.

Fill up vehicles with gas; pumps also need power to operate.

Secure homes with panels, plywood or shutters.

Around the home, tie down items that must be left outside so they don’t become flying objects.

Trim trees so strong winds are able to pass through them, making them less likely to tip over during a storm. But don’t leave yard waste at the curb after a hurricane warning has been issued; stow it so it doesn’t endanger the neighborhood.

Make sure wireless-phone batteries are charged and, in the likely case the power will go out, have an extra battery or another charger that works without electricity.

Establish a communications protocol by designating an out-of-town family member as your main point of contact. Consider texting as opposed to calling, as it uses less data than voice-on-voice, and networks probably will be jammed.

“Staying connected during severe-weather events is critically important to consumers, businesses and our emergency-management officials,” AT&T Florida President Joe York said.

If you are evacuating, make that decision early. Studies show it could take up to 99 hours to get everyone out of South Florida if a major storm is approaching.

Use a shelter as a last resort. Click here for a list of them in Palm Beach County.

When a storm hits, protect yourself and your family by staying inside and away from doors and windows. Designate a safe room, which ideally should be a space with no exterior walls, such as a closet.

Don’t leave your home or shelter until emergency officials give the all-clear. When they say it’s safe to venture outside, use caution around debris, downed power lines and flooded areas. Drive sparingly, as traffic lights might be out.

Because 10 years have passed since Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne slammed into South Florida, consumer complacency could be at an all-time high, warned Florida Power & Light Co. President Eric Silagy.

“We are going to be hit by a storm at some point, and that’s why we all need to prepare as if it’s going to be this season,” Silagy told Florida Weekly.

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