It’s been ten years since the last time a hurricane hit Florida. That sounds like good news, but it’s something we should all be concerned about. Polls show that a significant proportion of Florida residents are unconcerned about the prospect of a hurricane making landfall in our state. Over 60% say that they have no preparedness plan, and 30% admit that they wouldn’t know what to do. Many say that they wouldn’t evacuate even in the event of a Category 1 storm.
In may ways, it’s not surprising. Homeowners under 30 years old don’t have the experience of taking responsibility for their property: those who remember Hurricane Wilma in 2005 or Hurricane Charley in 2004 mostly have nostalgic memories of hurricane parties. They have no experience with boarding up homes or ensuring that they have stocks of food, water and batteries. It’s easy to forget that in 2004, more than 1 in 4 of the homes in Florida suffered hurricane damage, and many were destroyed completely, particularly in vulnerable coastal areas such as ours. Charley alone caused over $13bn in property damage. Wilma caused nearly $30bn.
It’s not just the young who need to worry. Since the last hurricane, over a million people have come to Florida, most with no experience of hurricanes. Many are immigrants, many more are retirees who are here to enjoy the sun, the sea, and our relaxed lifestyle. They too, have no idea what’s in store when a hurricane hits. It’s not just property that gets damaged: people and pets can be killed or injured.
There is no doubt that a hurricane is coming. Even though the forecast for this year is low, with most forecasters estimating only one hurricane is likely, it’s only a matter of time. The previous record for a hurricane-free period in the state was 5 years, 1980-1984. We’ve been lucky, but it won’t last. Hurricane Danny is currently forming near the Leeward Islands, and while it’s unlikely to reach Florida, it should be a wake-up call to all residents, homeowners, and businesses to get ready for the worst.
It can’t be stressed enough: if you live in Florida, you need a hurricane preparedness plan.
- Lay in supplies of food, water, and batteries
- Make sure the entire family knows what to do
- Decide where to store valuable items
- Ensure your computers and other electronics are safe
- Know what you will do with your pets
- Know your evacuation routes
- If you’re a business owner, ensure your staff knows what to do: PRR Computers is offering a free Hurricane Plan for Southwest Florida Businesses
You can also minimize the impact of a hurricane by ensuring your home is fully protected. In the event that you are caught inside the building during a storm, you and your family will be safer and more likely to get through it unscathed. If you have to evacuate, you can be sure that your home will survive wind, rain, and impact, and, if the worst happens, is secure against looters.
- Make sure that your doors and windows are securely fitted and free of cracks or other damage. Damaged or badly fitted windows can break or get torn out, allowing the wind and rain into your house. Once that happens, severe damage is inevitable, and the likelihood of losing your roof is much greater.
- Look into installing hurricane screens. Top-end steel shutters can withstand winds up to 200 mph, which is easily enough for anything we are likely to experience in this part of the state. For those on a budget, cheaper shutters will provide good protection at an affordable price.
- Consider replacing standard glass with impact glass. This will resist damage from flying debris such as shingles, branches, or trash cans. Don’t forget about patio doors as well: they are often the most vulnerable. If you’re likely to be away from home during the hurricane season, this is the recommended option, as you don’t have to be present to put the shutters in place.
Lastly, ensure that you have sufficient insurance to cover any hurricane damage that does occur. If you are hit, you don’t want to end up with a huge repair bill on top of everything else.
Talk to us about your options for hurricane protection. We can offer a full service. Here at Rice Home Specialties, we can take care of external items such as screens and shutters. Our sister company, Rice Windows and Doors, takes care of the openings to your home or business.
Do it now while things are quiet. Next year could be too late.