The Atlantic hurricane season is officially from June 1st to November 30th. Although hurricanes have been known to occur outside of these months, these are the dates that were selected to encompass over 97% of tropical activity. Living in Florida, you should always have a plan in place to ensure you are ready in the event that a disaster strikes.
Before the StormBelow are some tips and tricks to keep in mind to prepare before the storm arrives:
Home Preparation Tips if a Hurricane or Strong Storm is in the Forecast
- Remove any items that aren’t secured to the ground such as lawn furniture or trampolines. Loose items like decorations and flags should be taken inside until the storm passes.
- Check for and remove trash and yard debris. These items can get blown around by strong winds and damage property. This sort of debris could also get caught up in storm drains and canals and increase the potential for flooding.
- Once the storm is expected to make landfall within 72 hours: DO NOT cut down trees or vegetation or do any major yard work. Mass cutting places a tremendous burden on the normal solid waste collection process, and collection of this debris a few days prior to landfall of the storm is not guaranteed. During a Watch or Warning period DO NOT place materials at the curb or take materials to the landfill or transfer facility. Services may be suspended and facilities may close early to prepare for the storm.
- Bring garbage cans into the garage if possible. If they must remain outside, make sure they are in a sheltered, secured location.
- Turn off automatic sprinklers.
- If you plan to evacuate, shut off your main house water valve to prevent damage to your home.
- Sandbags are available at the Sheriff’s Work Farm, 2955 Pluckebaum Road, in Cocoa. For more information, contact the Brevard County Sheriff’s office at (321) 747-0205. Not all homes need sandbags. Research ahead of time if you live in a low-lying area that is prone to flooding. Sandbags may be used to protect your home by placing them across doorways to prevent water from entering the building. Most home improvement stores carry sandbags. You can purchase them and keep them in your hurricane supply kit and then fill them with sand or dirt available on your property. Home improvement stores often sell fill dirt as well. Remember DO NOT fill your bags with sand from the beach. If you plan ahead, this will save you time when a storm is approaching. Remember, lines were quite long to get sandbags during Hurricane Matthew. Location and availability of sandbags available prior to a storm will be updated as the information becomes available. Most local municipalities do not provide sandbags prior to a storm.
Home Preparation Throughout Hurricane Season When No Imminent Storm Threat
Hurricanes create a tremendous amount of debris that often takes weeks or months to collect. You can help reduce the amount of debris — and the time it takes for all of it to be collected — by keeping your yard and fence maintained before a storm is in the forecast.
- Remove any dead limbs, branches and palm fronds from trees.
- Trim them back if needed.
- Older fences could be rotted or unstable and may be ripped from the ground in high winds. A dangerous warning sign is if the fence wobbles in relatively strong gusts.
- Perform regular maintenance. Look for loose or weak boards and nail or replace them as necessary.
Make sure to think about things such as: Where will you go? Will you evacuate? What route will you take? What supplies do you need? It is important to make sure you have all of these details in place before a storm approaches.
- Have a supply kit ready.
- Have either a shelter or evacuation plan in place.
- Stay informed. The City of Palm Bay uses AlertBrevard to send EMERGENCY notifications by phone, email, text and social media to keep citizens informed of emergencies. Be sure to register today. Register for Emergency Notifications
Have a hurricane supply kit ready with enough food, water and medications for you and your family for at least 3 days. If you have pets, include supplies for their needs as well. Keep important documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and medical information in an easily accessible place in the event you need to evacuate.
Brevard County Emergency Management offers a more extensive list of items to keep in your hurricane kit.
After the Storm
Below are some tips and tricks to keep in mind after the storm passes:
FPL doesn't restore power based on when customers report an outage, where customers live or the status of accounts. Rather, they begin in multiple locations and follow an overall plan that calls for restoring power to the largest number of customers safely and as quickly as possible:
- Starting with repairing any damage to our power plants and the power lines that carry electricity from our plants to the local substations.
- Prioritizing restoring power to critical facilities, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers.
- Working to return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time − including service to major thoroughfares that host supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and other needed community services.
- Repairing the infrastructure serving smaller groups and neighborhoods, converging on the hardest-hit areas until every customer’s power is restored.
- FPL realizes how disruptive power disturbances can be to your life. If you experience an outage or repeated power problem, visit www.FPL.com/outage or call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) to report the problem.
Safety and Electricity
Be cautious of downed power lines following a storm. Debris or standing water may be hiding lines that could be energized and dangerous. Stay away from flooding caused by severe weather events.
- A hurricane or other disaster can cause a disruption of your water service. In the event of service interruption due to a hurricane or other disaster, Palm Bay Utilities will notify customers via AlertBrevard notifications. Register to receive AlertBrevard emergency notifications.
- In situations of heavy rainfall within short periods of time, the City of Palm Bay Utilities Department urges residents on city sewer service to avoid using excess water for bathing, toilet flushing, and dish-washing. The measure is needed to prevent sewage backups and excess wastewater entering the collection system.
- Cooperation in this matter is a proactive and preventative step in keeping operations safe for all residents.
Storm shutters can keep you and your family safe during a hurricane, but did you know they can also trap you in the event of a house fire? Blocked windows not only limit your family's escape routes, but also limit safe entry and exit points for Palm Bay's firefighters.
Although leaving shutters up through the end of hurricane season may seem tempting, Palm Bay Fire Rescue recommends taking the shutters off your home once the storm passes. Keeping shutters up until the end of the hurricane season can create a fire hazard that has potentially deadly consequences. Firefighters follow a “vent, enter, search” protocol, which means they will enter room-by-room and search them to ensure everyone is out of the burning structure. Shuttered and boarded-up windows can hinder this process.
- Operate generators outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation. Never run a generator in a home or garage. Generators give off deadly carbon monoxide.
- Do not place generators near air handler/air intakes.
- Do not plug a generator into the wall to avoid back feed. Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances to the outlets on the generator.
- Turn the generator on before plugging appliances to it. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Remember, generators are for temporary usage; prioritize your needs.
- Generators pose electrical risks, especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
- Be sure the generator is turned off and cool before fueling it.
- Keep children and pets away from portable generators. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.
When approaching an intersection that has a traffic signal that is not working correctly follow the guidelines below:
- Flashing Red - Treat as a STOP sign
- Flashing Yellow - Proceed with CAUTION
- NO SIGNAL LIGHTS - Treat as a 4-way STOP