I’ve lived in Miami my entire life. After surviving Hurricane Katrina, Wilma, Sandy, and countless others, I’m no stranger to hurricane preparation. Hurricane season, in Miami especially, is hectic, to say the least, and can make even the most level-headed person anxious. Don’t worry, though. If you follow this guide, you should be well-prepared for Irma.

  1. Board up your residency

One of the most vulnerable areas of your house or apartment is the windows. They can be blown in or shattered by flying debris, even something as small as a rock can break your window with strong winds. Therefore, make sure you put shutters up, preferably metal for the most resistance. Some of you may have hurricane impact windows already installed, but I would still recommend putting up shutters for reinforcement and more peace of mind. Putting tape on your windows WILL NOT WORK, they will not stop them from breaking or being blown in. You can buy shutters from your local hardware store, like Home Depot, and they will tell you how to put the shutters up.

2. Put sandbags on the bottom of your door

As we just saw with Hurricane Harvey, flooding is a serious and deadly threat. Water can leak through the bottom of the door and accumulate quickly, so fill bags with sand and put them in the bottom of your door.

3. Make sure you have your medication

We do not know what the aftermath of the storm will be, you don’t know how long it will be until you can refill your medication. Therefore, make sure to go to your local pharmacy or call your doctor to get your prescriptions refilled.

4. Save your documents

Make a copy of all your important documents, insurance, social security, passport, birth certificate, etc. Save the copy and the originals in a sealed plastic bag. Any important documents you have on your computer, save on your email. Your Google account is great for this because it will save anything on its cloud.

5. Keep your pets safe

If you are in an evacuation zone and need somewhere to leave your pets, make sure to contact your local shelter. You will need to place ID tags on your pets collar, present medical and current vaccination records for your pet, and provide food and supplies for your pet.

6. Have a disaster kit ready 

This should include everything you may need in the case of an emergency. Pack a backpack with all of these essentials:

  • Cash
  • Important documents
  • Food and bottled water
  • Flashlights, batteries, battery powered radio
  • First aid kit
  • Closed shoes and clean clothes that will last AT LEAST three days
  • Hygiene products (Menstrual pads, diapers, toilet paper, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Prescription Medicine
  • Eye glasses or contacts

7. Fill up on water and non-perishable food

Shops may be closed for weeks after a hurricane, therefore you should have lots of water and food in case that happens. If the stores are barren and there is no more water, recycle your current water gallon and fill it with tap water. Tap water is just as safe and may be missing as well during and after a hurricane. Make sure any food you buy does not need to be cooked or heated up because you might not have heat or electricity. Stock up on at least a week’s supply of food and water.

8. Make sure you have batteries, flashlights, and a can opener

During the hurricane, the lights will most likely go out and if it’s night time you will be plunged into darkness. Therefore, you should have multiple flashlights and lanterns and have batteries to keep them powered. You will have lots of canned food but you cannot use an electric can opener to open them, so you need to buy one if you do not have one.

9. Clear your house of objects that could become debris

Anything that is above your head that could fall and hurt you. The floor and house may shake in severe winds, causing objects to shake and fall. Clear your porch of anything that could go flowing from chairs to plant pots.

10. Have a designated safe room in your residence

This is where you can stay until the worst passes and you know you will be safe. These rooms generally have no windows or possible debris. Good safe room options include bathrooms, interior hallways, the center of a building, and spaces on the ground floor away from windows.

For more tips visit the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. I hope everyone affected by the storm stays safe and remember not to go outside until it declared safe by local officials.

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