How to Prepare for Summer Storms and Hurricanes
By Victoria Figueiredo
The Sunshine State has kind of a misleading name. It may be the warm and humid place snowbirds dream of all winter, but summer in a tropical climate is anything but constant sun and beach weather. We’re talking rain, friends. Sometimes all day, more frequently every day from 3:00 to 4:30 pm — doomsday-skies-booming-thunder-umbrella-incapacitating-ruin-your-after-work-plans RAIN. Even as this post is being written, it’s raining. Sorry to burst your bubble. That’s just life in Florida.
While we haven’t figured out how to control the weather (yet – we’re working on it), we can help you prepare for the days when rain, thunderstorms, or hurricanes threaten to ruin your plans. Keep an eye on your five-day forecast and bust out your tool kit – here’s everything you need to know to survive these summer storms:
STAY AWAY FROM FALLEN POWER LINES. You will come across them at some point. Intense winds and falling debris are the main reason why powerlines tend to come loose during storms, and those guys are no joke. Haven’t you ever seen linemen working on them with all their crazy precautions and protective gear? Dangerous stuff! Seriously, maintain a safe distance and call your power company as soon as you see one flopped over on the ground. Even if the line isn’t twitching, sparking, or doing whatever else it is you associate with flowing current, ALWAYS assume the power line is live. Don’t touch it or even come near it. If the line is resting in a puddle of water, stay away from the water too. Watch out for children, pets, and youthful adults if you see them puddle splashing post-storm. Water carries currents and can easily seriously injure or even kill anyone or anything that comes into contact with it.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That statement was true when Ben Franklin made it a billion years ago, and it’s still true today. When disaster strikes, it’s already too late to get what you need to get by. When the forecasts turn from constant sun to cloudy days and storm warnings, just pop out and get your family some supplies! You’ll be glad you did. There are tons of lists out there laying out everything you should have in your emergency supply kit, but basically just think about what you would take camping with you and go from there. Potable water, at least two can openers, flash lights, batteries, and non-perishable food are a great place to start.
Rain boots may seem like they’re just taking up space in your closet or garage for no reason, but when it comes to preparing for heavy rain, they can be real life savers. Not only will rubber boots keep your toes dry and comfortable, they provide slight insulation. What does this have to do with anything? If you find yourself having to go outside after a big storm or hurricane, that bit of insulation can make the difference between you walking away like nothing happened or being carried away on a stretcher should you step into a current-carrying puddle or a stray power line you didn’t see. Hurricanes and thunderstorms leave so much debris on the ground, and you never know what that debris might be covering up. Trust us, get the boots.
In an ideal world, everyone would unplug all their appliances and electronics at the first sign of a big storm. Realistically, we know that’s not actually going to happen. Sometimes storms come out of nowhere, sometimes you’re not home to prepare, and sometimes the rain makes things so cozy you just want to curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and a good movie. We get it! These situations are totally normal, but they might leave you wondering how to protect your things from the sudden surges in voltage caused by storms that can damage your stuff and even cause fires. Enter: the surge protector. These guys are installed at your meter or in your service panel, and they redirect, block, or ground any voltages above a certain threshold. These are actually required by code, so it’s probably a good idea to make sure you have one in place anyway!
Power outages are pretty commonplace, and they suck at any time of year, but they’re especially bad in the summer in the South, where the heat and humidity make it feel like you’re walking through a warm bath any time you step foot outside. Though you can’t predict power outages, you can definitely be ready for them. The first thing you should consider adding to your arsenal is a generator. Generators connect to your home through a transfer switch and your panel; if the power ever goes out, you have a back-up! Just switch it on, and you’ll be the envy of your neighborhood. If you invest in a generator, please make sure to use a transfer switch, or you’ll be risking a death or fire. Also make sure to keep the generator in a well-ventilated area. Since most are gas-powered, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk.
Another great idea is to keep a few portable phone and device chargers on hand. You’ll have to make sure they’re carrying a full charge before you put them away in your kit, but these little guys can be such a big help. Keep your phone, tablet, laptop, or whatever else usable when traditional charging methods are unavailable!
Last, but certainly not least – emergency lights! Placed strategically (think bathrooms, kid’s rooms, garages, kitchens, hallways) emergency lights can make an immense difference in the way you experience a storm. By coming on automatically when the power goes out, these lights provide a safe way for you to get around your home and find what you need. Moreover, kids will feel safe, seniors can get around easily, and you can skip having to hold a flashlight while you search for your things. Don’t want to invest in so many emergency lights? Consider automatic flashlights or specialty hall lighting. You don’t have to bust your bank account to prepare for Florida’s rainy season!
There are tons of ways to get yourself and your home ready for summer storms. This list just barely scratches the surface, but it’s a great place to start while you figure out what you and your family need specifically. If you need any advice or someone to come in and update your electrical situation, give us a call! We’re always around to help.