Tropical storm Gordon was expected to reach hurricane strength as it hit landfall just after Labor Day, serving as a reminder that everyone who could be affected by a hurricane or strong tropical storm needs to be prepared. Do you and your family have an evacuation plan in place?
As Miami personal injury lawyers and citizens of South Florida, we have seen the ravages left behind in the wake of a hurricane. We strongly believe that preparation is the best way to help ensure the safety of the people who live and visit our beautiful state.
Whether you are asked (or ordered) to evacuate your home or office, there are steps you can take before, during and after to reduce your chance of injury.
Many schools across America have what is known as a Bug Out Bag. These are bags of emergency supplies used if students and staff are forced to evacuate their building. You can have a bug out bag of your own in the case of a hurricane.
Pack extra cash in a waterproof bag, prescription medication and food and water. Pack at least three days’ worth of everything, and don’t forget to pack for your pets.
There is no guarantee that you and your family won’t get separated in an evacuation. Your cellphones may not work so don’t rely on them to be able to contact one another.
Have a meeting place decided on before you evacuate. One of the reasons people tend to get separated is that they wait too long to evacuate. Do not wait until the last minute.
Invest in a fireproof, watertight container and store your important documents inside. You can take the documents with you in the event of an evacuation.
At the very least, take a picture of your birth certificates, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses and upload them online. Follow these tips from FEMA when deciding what is considered “important.”
Have you ever wondered how to keep your food colder should the power go out? Days before the potential storm hits, turn your freezer and refrigerator to the coldest settings. When the storm is imminent, move your cold items into the freezer.
A tightly packed freezer will keep items cold for about 48 hours. If you can’t fit everything into the freezer, put bags of ice in the refrigerator.
Flood waters start at ground level and rise. If you have anything valuable that you can’t take with you and don’t want ruined, move the items to the highest floor in your home.
It may not save everything, but you’ll have a better chance of coming home to your precious items intact than if you had left them in the basement or on the ground floor.
Chemicals mixing with floodwaters can be dangerous. Look for all of your household cleaners, make sure the lids are on tight and move them to a higher level of your home.
You may want to consider storing household cleaners in a plastic tote or tub and then putting the tub on an upper level. Chemicals mixing with water can be hazardous to people’s health and create a risk of fire or explosion.
Don’t forget the electronics while you are moving things to the upper level of your home. Anything with a wire that uses electricity for power should be moved up.
Do not plug in a generator. Anything that requires electricity should be unplugged in the wake of a severe storm and the eventuality of evacuation.
Heavy winds and rain can cause tree limbs to fall and outdoor furniture to fly. Take a day to clear your yard of any debris, trim your trees and other landscaping and secure outdoor furniture. If you don’t have a shed or garage to store your items, tie them down with ropes staked into the ground.
Board your windows to protect them from breakage should things begin to fly through the air.
While these tips are mainly about what to do if you are forced to evacuate home, most also apply to evacuating your workplace. Valuable items should be taken with you or stored, electronics should be unplugged and placed somewhere higher than the ground and any cleaning items should be capped tightly.
If you have important documents stored on your office computer, download them to a thumb drive or upload them to the cloud.
When you are given the all-clear to return to your home or office, be sure to stay safe. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters. Six inches of water can sweep a person off their feet and just a foot is enough to cause a vehicle to lose contact with the road.
Before going into your home, turn off the power at the main fuse box or ask an electrician to do it for you. Do not turn any switches on and use a flashlight instead of a candle as the fire can pose a risk. If you have any doubt that something came into contact with flood waters, don’t try to save it; throw it out.
If you are injured during a hurricane evacuation in Florida and someone else is to blame for your injuries, you have the right to be compensated. Our experienced Miami personal injury attorneys are here for you around the clock.
Reach out to our team to schedule a free case evaluation. We will fight tirelessly to ensure you are treated with respect and compensated fairly.