PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - With hurricane season fast approaching, local experts share how to best prepare your home and family for a weather emergency.
Florida residents, recent to natives know the state is nearly synonymous with hurricanes. With a rapidly-approaching open to hurricane season on June 1, Pinellas County Operations Manager Joe Borries shares a few tips. "We ask citizens to do three things… know your risk, make a plan and stay informed."
Borries says it only takes one storm to negatively affect a family so having a plan is crucial. "A plan includes:' what am I going to do when certain things happen and I receive those warnings? Do I have a certain place to go to? How am I going to handle my boats? How am I going to handle my personal information?'
Knowing your risk and making that plan also requires paying close attention to the start and end times of evacuation orders. Borries says "Everybody should reach their safe place by the end of that time and that is why there is start and end time to evacuation orders."
The safe places Borries refers to can include public shelter that will be following CDC guidelines for Covid. "We will have shelters available for those that need it and we will have [health safety] practices in place."
A local home inspector by trade, Stephen Smarowsky says one of the best ways to stay safe is to pay attention to how your home is built. "There are ways that the roofers can put on the roof that mitigates those high hurricane winds and a lot of times, if roofers are in a hurry or just don't communicate what you want, they're going to put what is easiest and most cost-effective for them."
It imperative if you're remodeling or updating your home that you're using licensed contractors that are building to the most recent standards. Many companies offer impact resistant windows that vary in strength, typically costing more as the resistance increases. Smarowsky says for windows, "the best option is always shutters, because shutters completely protect your windows."
He adds that some of the simplest ways of preparing is when "you know the storms coming, one thing you can always do is turn your refrigerator and freezer temps to the coldest temperatures. If you do lose electric, you want it to stay as cold as possible for the longest period of time." While in the freezer, it doesn't hurt to freeze water-tight gallon bags of fresh water. Not only will they keep the nearby items colder longer, but when they thaw you will have potable water.
Despite the unknown of what the 2021 hurricane season will bring to Florida, Borries says to always be on guard. "Very much so, like you wear your seatbelt everyday, you put it on and hope you never need it." He strongly advises that you know potential dangers of your area including flood zones, forest fires and other natural disasters.
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