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Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 9:07 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 9:07 PM
Be cautious following a storm
Do not leave your home or shelter until emergency officials tell you it’s safe.
In the yard
If your home is open to the elements or you fear it will collapse, get out. Secure it as best you can, get as many valuables out as possible and find another place to stay.
If your boat is in your yard, inspect it and document damage for insurance. Repair what you can. Pump water out. Check the fuel, electrical systems for damage.
In the neighborhood
DON’T TOUCH POWER LINES. Watch for downed lines. Consider every power line energized. Do not attempt to touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them.
Watch your step. The area could be covered with broken glass and other debris.
Don’t walk in standing water and don’t venture out in the dark because you might not see a power line that could be energized and dangerous.
Watch for insects, snakes and other animals — including alligators — driven out by high water.
If your neighborhood floods during the storm, listen to the radio for instructions.
Watch and listen for reports of storm-spawned tornadoes.
Be careful about letting your pet outdoors. Landmarks and scents might be gone, and your pet might get lost.
In the area
If you stayed outside your neighborhood, do not return to it until you get the all-clear. Roads may be blocked.
You might have to show proof of residency, such as a driver license or insurance documents, before being allowed back in.
Law enforcement agencies likely will impose curfews; hours and extent to depend on damage. Anyone out would be subject to arrest.
Driving will be treacherous. Traffic lights likely will be out and streets will be filled with debris and downed power lines. When traffic lights are dark, intersections become four-way stops.
If flooding occurs, try calling local government or drainage districts before calling the water management district.
Don’t go to the coast or barrier islands until you get word that it’s safe to do so.
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 @ 9:15 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 @ 9:15 PM
Don’t drain water from pool
Leave water level alone. Draining, so it won’t overflow, is pointless. If you drain it more than a few feet below normal and the ground gets saturated, the pool’s shell could pop out of the ground (even with concrete pools). Water provides weight to hold the sides and bottom in place.
Turn off power to the pump motor, lights and other equipment at circuit box. Disconnect gas from heater; if possible, have your gas supplier or pool service disconnect it to be safe.
Consider removing diving boards or slides if you fear they won’t be secure in high winds; if you decide to remove them, try to have a professional do it.
If the motor is exposed and you live in a flood-prone area, remove the pump and store it indoors. Otherwise, try to wrap it up with a waterproof cover and tie securely.
Remove automatic pool cleaners, pool blankets and covers, and take inside.
Super-chlorinate or double chemicals you normally add to reduce contamination and infestation by insects.
Stock up on chemicals to “shock” pool after storm.
Don’t throw patio furniture in pool to keep out of the wind; pool chemicals will harm the furniture and can mar the pool finish.
Call gas company or a pool company to reattach gas line to heater.
Don’t reconnect electrical equipment until you’ve removed debris from the pool with a net and power has been restored. Make sure electrical equipment is dry.
Do this as quickly as possible before bacteria starts to grow. Don’t use your vacuum; debris will clog it and the pump. Then, if the area around the pool is dry, start the pump. When draining the pool to proper level, remove cartridge filter or bypass the filter system. Super-chlorinate again.
Remove vegetative debris before treating water. Add 5 gallons of chlorine (based on a 15,000-gallon pool) and start pump after inspecting electrical equipment to be sure it’s dry. Reset timers, if necessary.
Closely watch the pump system through complete cycles for any problems.
Wait 24 hours to see whether water clears and turns blue. If it does, test water and follow instructions. If water is darker or black, pool may need to be drained, or partially drained, treated and refilled. Call a professional
Balance pool chemicals and monitor a few days.
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 10:43 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 10:43 PM
What if you have to file a claim?
Take photos or video of your home to document your belongings for insurance adjusters. A free computer software program, www.insurancevault.net , will walk you through what are the key images to take. Make sure images are easily accessible immediately after the hurricane — not solely stored on a computer.
Save copies of receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers.
Start a disaster savings account so that money is available in a worst-case scenario.
Write down the name, address and claims telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information.
Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate.
Keep materials such as plywood on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Take photos of the damage before you make repairs. Finally, keep receipts from your repairs so that your insurance company has documentation to reimburse you.
Also, document any repairs you make to your house after previous hurricanes. If you don’t, and suffer new damage in the same place, an insurance company could dispute that you ever used the money they paid you to make repairs.
Help adjusters – and others – find you
If you have to leave your home following a storm, it is helpful to leave a phone number where you can be reached somewhere on the outside of your home.
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM
Refill special medications.
Get cash (ATMs may not work for days after). Don’t charge credit cards to the limit; you might need extra cash after the storm.
Get supplies. Follow instructions in this guide for food and water.
Don’t fill gasoline cans until right before the storm; they are a fire hazard.
Fill vehicle fuel tank. Gas stations could run out and some will not have power to run pumps. Check your car’s battery, water, oil. Make sure you have a spare tire and buy aerosol kits that fix and inflate flats.
Check fire extinguishers.
If you own a boat, make necessary preparations.
Prepare your pool. Don’t drain it.
If you own a plane, have it flown out or secured.
WHEN THE STORM IS APPROACHING:
Get shutters, storm panels or plywood in place on windows. If you haven’t installed sockets, attach with wood screws; they’re better than nails and do less damage.
Don’t tape windows; tape can create daggers of glass and in the heat can later bake onto panes.
Remove swings and tarps from swing sets. Tie down anything you can’t bring in. Check for loose rain gutters, moldings.
Move grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage.
If you do any last-minute pruning, take clippings inside so they don’t become hazards in the wind.
Disconnect and remove satellite dish or antenna from your roof.
Check your mailbox. If it’s loose, secure or remove it.
Remove roof turbines and cap holes with screw-on caps. Unsecured turbines can fly off and create a large hole for rain to pour through.
Prepare patio screening. It usually is built to sustain tropical-force winds, but with higher winds, it can separate from the frame. Officials recommend you remove a 6-foot panel on each side to let wind pass through. Pull out the tubing that holds screening in frame to remove screen.
Secure and brace external doors, especially the garage door and double doors.
Move vehicles out of flood-prone areas and into garages if possible. If not, park cars away from trees and close to homes or buildings.
Published: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM
Updated: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM
Trees should be trimmed by early June, before storms threaten. Many municipalities have “amnesty” weeks before storm season, when you can deposit more than the allowable limit of yard debris. Call municipalities for more information.
Call a professional. Trees trimmed by a professional arborist are far less likely to go down in a storm.
Thinning a tree allows wind to blow through its canopy, offering less wind resistance in a storm. Prune young trees to create a single leader, which will grow into a strong trunk.
To minimize damage to a mature tree, eliminate weak branches and reduce the length of limbs at a tree’s sides. Don’t remove interior branches, as this can make a tree unbalanced.
Hatracked trees become sails. Removing a tree’s canopy encourages bushy growth, which makes a tree top heavy and wind-resistant. Some hatracked trees “sailed” directly to the ground. Hatracking is illegal.
‘Lifted’ trees mean broken branches. “Lifting” is a common practice where the lower branches are removed to provide clearance underneath. Lifting contributes to branch breakage and makes the tree top heavy.
Don’t wait until the storm is threatening to prune. If the trash pickup doesn’t get to your curb before the storm strikes, you’ve created a pile of potential missiles.
Coconuts behave like cannonballs in high winds. Remove them well before a storm hits. If trees are too tall for you to reach, hire a tree trimmer.
Tips for your yard
Take in hanging pots and baskets. Secure or take in pots from shadehouses.
Secure young trees with additional stakes.
Don’t remove fruit. If you put it in a trash pile and the pile isn’t picked up, the fruit may fly around in the wind.
Tree-dwelling bromeliads, staghorn ferns and orchids can be secured with fishing line.
Take in or tie up any piles of yard or construction debris.
Take in all garden furniture, grills, tiki torches and other outdoor items. (Do not sink furniture in swimming pool.)
Consider removing gates and trellises.
Palms, native trees fared best through 3 hurricanes
In high wind, palms will bend but not always break. Since they originated in the tropics and subtropics, their supple trunks have adapted to hurricanes.
Plant palms in clumps around the edge of your garden (not near the house) to block the wind and protect more fragile plants inside. Although fronds will be damaged in a storm, most of these palms will recover.
Ficus trees come down easily in storms
Ficus trees are not meant for residential yards. They grow to 70 feet with a massive span of shallow roots, and come down easily in high winds.
If you already have a ficus, have it professionally trimmed before hurricane season begins. (If you have Australian pine and ficus in your yard, consider removing them.)
Stake small trees as a storm approaches with stakes driven at least 8 inches into the ground.
Trim large masses of vines so they don’t pull down fences.
Lay arches and trellises on the ground and anchor with rope.
Fast-growing, brittle trees should never be planted in hurricane country, no matter how quickly you need shade.
(Consider removing these trees from your yard.)
Ficus (ficus benjamina, weeping fig)
Hong Kong orchid
Norfolk Island pine
Cabbage palm (sabal palm)
Canary Island date palm
Christmas palm (adonidia)
Florida thatch palm
Robellini palm (Pygmy date palm)