Category 4 Hurricane Matthew is currently wreaking havoc in the Bahamas and is making its way steadily towards the Atlantic coastline of Florida. It is predicted to slam the state late tonight or early Friday morning. More than 100 people in the Caribbean countries have lost their lives to the flooding and gale force winds Hurricane Matthew. Governor Rick Scott of Florida has urged the 1.5 million people within the state's evacuation zones to seek shelter in unaffected regions of the state immediately.
Hurricanes are usually predictable in their pathways but not always. If you have not been ordered to evacuate, you should still take extra precautions to prepare yourself for the worst Hurricane Matthew brings.
Hurricane safety and preparation tips that every Florida resident should know include:
- Evacuate: It cannot be stressed enough that if you are ordered to evacuate, you should do so as soon as you can. Search and rescue operations in evacuation zones are difficult due to damage caused by the hurricane. Do not assume you will be rescued readily if you are in danger.
- Disaster kits: Make two hurricane disaster kits and store one in your home and another in your vehicle. They should contain flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, cash, first aid supplies, nonperishable food, water, and copies of important identifying information that may help rescuers find you or others.
- Stock up: Whenever there is a hurricane warning in Florida, check your disaster supplies, even if it is not predicted to hit your town. You will need plenty of bottled water as basic utility services could be interrupted by the storm, nonperishable food to last at least seven days per person, and an all-purpose first aid kit.
- Emergency planning: Get together with your family and household members now to create a basic emergency communication plan. It should include where to meet if you are separated, who else can be contacted if you are unavailable, and knowing escape routes out of your home or city.
- Backup generator: If you have a backup generator for use during power outages, inspect it now to ensure it works. Remember to keep all generators completely protected from the elements and at least 20 feet away from windows and doors.
- Reinforcement: If the conditions outside are safe, you may want to make impromptu reinforcements to windows, doors, and your roof now. Something as simple as nailing boards over glass windows can prevent a breakage and flooding when Hurricane Matthew hits.
- Hunker down: If you cannot safely evacuate and the hurricane is close – less than an hour away – you should stay within your home. Do not get near windows. Set your fridge and freezer to coldest settings and do not open unless absolutely necessary. Turn on radios or televisions and tune to emergency stations to listen for instructions.
- Returning home: Do not attempt to return to your home until authorities have deemed it safe to do so. On your way back, you may encounter downed powerlines – stay as far away from these hazards as possible, as electrical currents from them could be flowing through the water surrounding them. Do not drive through flood water, even if it appears shallow. When it is safe, photograph the entirety of your property for any homeowners' insurance filings.
If you need help with a hurricane damage claim, either initially or after it is denied, you can call 866.224.9189 to connect with the Mena Law Firm. Our Miami insurance attorneys can help you from start to finish and always keep your best interests in mind. We wish you and your loved ones safety during Hurricane Matthew's landfall.