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As Irma Inches Closer to Florida, Remember These Safety Tips

Floridians are no strangers to the potential dangers of hurricane season. We've gotten pretty lucky the last several years, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) warns that, from now until November, we may be in for more hurricanes than what was previously predicted. In fact, this season could rival that of 2010, with a high likelihood of 14 to 19 named storms, 5 to 9 actual hurricanes, and 2 to 5 major hurricanes. There is a 60 percent chance we'll have an above-normal season, up from the previous prediction of 45 percent, thanks to current weather conditions and an abnormally warm ocean. Miami already flooded once this year because of a tropical storm, and for everyone's safety, it's always best to have a plan.

The Atlantic hurricane season for 2017 has a 60 percent probability of being above-normal. Prepare yourself by:

  • Assembling a disaster kit
  • Familiarizing yourself with evacuation routes
  • Bringing loose objects inside
  • Covering windows with wood or shutters
  • Taking an inventory of your home for insurance purposes.

A few basic preparations can make a huge difference in how you weather the storm. First and foremost, have an evacuation plan. Keep up to date on the local hurricane evacuation route(s), know where you can stay if ordered to leave, and be sure to have enough gas in your car to get there. Prepare a disaster kit in advance that can accommodate all family members, including pets. Get a duffel bag or other easy-to-carry container and fill it with a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, cell phone charger, some cash, a first aid kit, prescription medications, bottled water, non-perishable food, and copies of important papers (driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card, insurance policies, pet vaccines, etc.). This kit is a vital component, even if the plan is to stay put. Riding out the storm doesn’t mean the danger has passed. Flooding and blocked roads could leave you housebound for several days -- power outages could make things extra tough -- so it is vital to have enough supplies in your home to keep you warm and safe.

Since hurricane damage can be hard to prove to an insurance company, an advance home inventory can be invaluable to a claim. Document your possessions with photographs or video and keep that evidence in a safe place. There are several online software programs that make creating and storing home inventory easy.

If you haven't already done so, it's wise to give your home and yard a thorough check. Bring inside all objects that could fly around and cause damage, such as toys, plants, trash cans, and outdoor furniture. Secure loose gutters and downspouts, and be sure to clear away debris to avoid water damage. Prevent further property damage by reinforcing the roof, windows, and doors. A portable generator may be a worthy investment. Just remember that all alternate power and heat sources need to be kept outside at least 20 feet away from the house and protected from moisture. Some people even go so far as to build a safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter.

When the conditions are ripe for a hurricane to come through within 48 hours, officials will announce a hurricane watch. Although a watch doesn't guarantee a major storm is coming, it is a good reminder to review your evacuation route and disaster kit contents. When a hurricane warning is issued, that means the conditions are expected within 36 hours. Check in with family and friends, and follow any applicable evacuation orders. If you are not in an area that is evacuating, close storm shutters and stay away from windows. You can get seriously injured if hit with flying glass during high winds.

Predicting the exact path and speed of a hurricane can be tricky. Never assume you know exactly what's going to happen, when the storm will hit, or when it's over. If you have a battery-operated or crank radio, or an Internet connection, stay updated on the latest weather report. Always wait for an expert to give you further emergency instructions and to let you know when it's safe.

As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities and remedies. We are highly experienced in handling hurricane-related insurance cases and, in many cases, we can do so without cost to you. Fees and expenses are frequently paid by the insurance company, so nothing comes out of the money you are awarded. Whether you have a storm surge, wind damage, roof damage or water penetration insurance claim on your residential or commercial property, we are prepared to fight for you against insurance companies that have wrongfully denied or delayed claims or failed to sufficiently cover the loss. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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