Hope’s Guide to Hurricanes

Here in Florida, we know a thing or two about hurricanes. It’s easy to feel confident in our hurricane preparedness, especially because The Villages is an inland community, miles away from both the Atlantic shores and the Gulf. But strong storms like Hurricane Dorian can still impact our area and bring power outages, flooding, and wind damage to our neighborhoods.

Before Hurricane Dorian makes landfall, here are a few tips for keeping your family and your home safe.

Helpful Tips:

Plan ahead. In the days before a storm, familiarize yourself with your state’s evacuation routes. Call your local representatives or head online to find out your local plan. Here in The Villages, visit https://www.districtgov.org/departments/Public-Safety/HurricanePersonalPreparedness.pdf.

Have a neighborhood communication plan. Make sure you have updated contact information for all your neighbors and friends. You may also want their emergency contacts, in case of a serious emergency.

Keep pets indoors! Bring all pets inside and set up comfortable food, water, and shelter areas for them. Make sure pets are always wearing proper identification tags. If your pet must go outside, do not let them out unaccompanied. Walk them on a leash, preferably with a secure harness. Do not let pets outside alone during storms!

Bring outdoor furniture, plants, waste cans, decorations, and other movable objects inside. Store them in your garage or inside your home.

Hit the ATM. Make sure you have cash on-hand. Keep updated bank account information and your checkbook with you.

Charge your cell phone fully, and keep the battery charged until the power goes out.

Trim trees and shrubs and eliminate any loose or low-hanging limbs.

Have a First-Aid kit ready. Make sure the supplies are fresh, not expired.

Keep extra batteries on hand and place flashlights in each room, in case of a power outage.

Stay away from doors and windows. If the storm gets bad, seek shelter in an interior room, like a large closet or hallway bathroom.

Shopping List:

  • Plenty of non-perishable food, like canned soups, fruit in syrup, canned meats, and canned vegetables.
  • Water – specifically, enough water for each person in the house for three days.
  • Personal hygiene items, toilet paper, paper towels, and moist wipes.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Pet supplies, including water, enough for each pet for three days.
  • Water-proof containers, plastic folders, and gallon-size sealable plastic bags.
  • Books or magazines for entertainment. Also consider board or card games, puzzles, journals, coloring pages, or knitting projects.

To-Do Around the House:

Gather your important personal documents (passports, licenses, insurance documents, home deeds, etc.) in one place. Organize them in a hard-sided plastic expanding file folder.

Locate the safe zone. Find the highest point of your house in case of flooding or identify an interior room or closet in case of hurricane-related tornadoes or high winds.

Reinforce garage doors.

Park all vehicles inside the garage. If vehicles must be parked outside, add wheel chocks to the wheels of the vehicle to prevent rolling.

Make a list of updated contacts, including your children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors. Keep a paper copy of this list, and laminate it if possible. If your cell phone battery depletes, you may be able to borrow a phone or find a working landline to make a call.

Make an updated list of your prescriptions, as well as important medical information.

If you have an iPhone, update your Medical ID information in the Health app.

Prepare for the loss of air conditioning. This can be one of the worst parts of losing power, especially here in Florida. Try to prevent as much light from entering and warming the house by covering up your windows on the inside. If you have back-up or battery-operated fans, don’t run them unless you are in the room.

Fill bathtubs and large containers with water for washing and flushing only.

Turn your fridge temperature down and/or freeze any food or drinking water that can be frozen if you expect a power outage.

Plan for Your Pets:

If you are ever forced to evacuate due to a storm, take your pets with you!

Keep your pets’ collars or harnesses on for the duration of the storm. Make sure they are wearing proper and updated identification tags, in case they get separated from you.

Pack enough pet food, bottled water, and kitty litter to last five days. Also include comfort items, like familiar blankets and small, light toys.

Organize your pets’ food in a large plastic container. This can be used as a drinking bowl or a litter box in an emergency.

Keep carriers on hand. If your pet is small enough, transport them in a carrier.

For even more hurricane preparedness information, visit https://www.stateofflorida.com/articles/hurricane-preparedness-guide.aspx.