Hurricane Season 2021 officially begins today, and while Floridians are notorious for their nonchalance towards tropical storms and non-major hurricanes, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is predicting an active season with an estimated 13 to 20 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could develop into hurricanes, with the possibility of 3 to 5 major hurricanes. Major storm systems can develop quickly, with storms typically peaking in August and September. While the Atlantic basin is quiet for the time being, experts recommend preparing for severe storms before they form. The team at Goldberg Noone Abraham breaks down exactly what you should do to prepare yourselves and your loved ones for inclement weather, and how to proceed if you have been injured due to another's negligence during or after a tropical storm, hurricane, or other weather event.
How Best to Prepare for a Hurricane:
Make an emergency preparedness kit. Whether you lose power or must evacuate due to a storm, having a prepared emergency kit can make all the difference for your family. According to the American Red Cross, your emergency kit should contain the following:
- Water – 1 gallon per person, per day (3-day supply if evacuating, 2-week supply if staying home).
- Food – non-perishable, easily prepared food (3-day supply if evacuating, 2-week supply if staying home).
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
- Deluxe First Aid kit
- Medications and medical supplies (1 week supply).
- Multi-purpose tool
- Personal hygiene and sanitation items
- Copies of important personal documents – medication lists and medical information, proof of address, passports, insurance paperwork, etc.
- Cell phone with charger
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
- Pet Kit (details here)
Take steps to protect your home. While there is no way to guarantee that your home will not sustain damage in a tropical storm or hurricane, there are steps one can take to protect your property.
- Protect windows and glass doors with either permanent storm shutters, or utilize 1/2-inch-thick plywood that has been cut to fit your doors and windows.
- Identify a safe location to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools, and trash cans (away from any doors and stairs) to prevent the risk of them being moved by high winds, and potentially causing harm or property damage.
- Clean and repair any clogged or loose rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding or unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
- Keep in mind that standard homeowner insurance does NOT cover flooding, but flood insurance does. Learn more here.
Staying Safe After a Hurricane:
In addition to preparing for a hurricane, it is important to take steps to stay safe after a storm. The CDC recommends the following steps to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones after a hurricane:
- Avoid flooded areas: Take precautions before, during, and after a flood. Never drive through floodwater.
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning after the storm: Ensure your CO detector has working batteries. Place generators outside at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent.
- Continue to follow preventive actions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, like washing your hands and wearing a mask during cleanup or when returning home.
- Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover (visit Stay Safe After a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm for more tips on staying safe after a hurricane).
Hurricanes and Personal Injury:
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there are several different entities responsible for cleaning up debris after a hurricane. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for removing debris from federally designated bodies of water, for example. Private property owners are responsible for removing debris from their own property, whether that debris is on land or water. What this means is that should you patron a restaurant or other business that has neglected to remove storm debris from their property, and it causes someone to fall or otherwise injure themselves, they may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
While window shutters are helpful protective tools, no shutter is invincible, which is why these products arrive with a disclaimer detailing what exactly it can withstand. While shutters may not be much help should a tree fall on your house in a storm, they should be able to protect your windows from smaller debris, heavy rain, and hurricane-force winds. Should your shutters become unhinged or otherwise be removed during the storm, that may be the result of improper construction or installation. Should a shutter like this cause an injury or property damage, you may be entitled to compensation from the product manufacturer, installation company, or both. If you believe you have been injured due to the negligence of another, call our law office today at (239) 461-5508.