We started giving hurricanes names in 1953, but it hasn’t made the storms anymore personable. Strong and destructive, they churn and threaten everything in their paths. Tracking a hurricane and predicting its landfall isn’t an easy task, nor is pinpointing their potential for damage, but their names are remembered for years as communities attempt to rebuild. Andrew. Katrina. Sandy. Harvey. And now Irma.
At this writing, Irma’s projected path is unclear, though it currently seems that the storm will be striking the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, and possibly Florida. And while some may choose to ignore the Category 5 storm slowly maneuvering through the Atlantic, it is advised that Floridians begin preparing for what could be one of the worst storms to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew.
Here are some steps to take to make sure you are prepared for Hurricane Irma.
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Be Prepared for Hurricane Irma
The National Hurricane Center has named Irma the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Being prepared for this record-breaking storm is essential. Start with the basics.
Gather Hurricane Supply Essentials
Before a storm hits, store shelves tend to empty out. It may be an inconvenience, however, it’s important to visit the supermarket and the gas station to replenish your emergency preparedness kit, purchase food, and fill your gas tank.
If you do not have an emergency preparedness kit, it is time to make a couple. Consider leaving one in an accessible location in your home and another in your vehicle. Ready.gov provides a checklist to make it an easy task.
If you are unsure of what kind of food you should buy, look for things that are shelf-stable and don’t need to be heated up or refrigerated. You should also consider purchasing paper plates and plastic cutlery. Batteries, of course, should also be on your list.
Refill any prescriptions you need and buy extra pet food so your furry friends are taken care of.
The most important Hurricane Supplies:
- Cooking Supplies
- Non-Perishable Foods
- Personal Supplies
Secure Valuables and Important Papers
Important papers should be gathered and stored in a safe, accessible location. You’ll want easy access to birth certificates, social security cards, medical insurance cards, prescriptions, important phone numbers, insurance policies, deeds, etc. if you need to evacuate. A plastic file box can help make the task easier.
If you have important information on your laptop or computer, back it up and place the backup drive in a safe, dry place. Valuables should also be moved if necessary.
Prepare Your Home
You can improve your chances of your home making it safely through the storm by trimming back limbs and branches that hang over your home or deck, removing dead limbs from trees, cleaning your gutters, bringing in your outside furniture. Those closer to the coast should board up their windows as well.
If you believe you may need sandbags, the Hillsborough County website lists pick up points in Tampa.
Check your homeowner’s insurance policy or your renter’s policy to determine the extent of your coverage and any deadlines for filing a claim.
Monitor Storm Progress
Keep abreast of the latest information via television and radio and follow recommendations for city, county, or state officials.
Evacuate if Necessary
The Hillsborough County website will be updated throughout the storm if necessary. Any plans for an evacuation will be shared via the website. To ensure you are prepared, consider browsing the following documents or printing them out.
If you have trouble loading these documents, try again. We, too, had difficulty because of the number of people attempting to access them.
While we are all hoping that Irma heads elsewhere or fizzles out, we must prepare for the worst. Over the past week, we’ve watched as Houston and other Texas towns have dealt with the flooding and destruction of Hurricane Harvey. We know how potentially serious Hurricane Irma may be and it is in all our best interests that we stock our pantries, fill our gas tanks, and prepare our homes.