South Floridians know they live on borrowed time. One of the sacrifices we make for the warm sunshine, water accessibility, diverse cultures, abundance of nature, and friendly people is knowing a hurricane is always just around the corner. Some tropical Atlantic storms never gain hurricane strength or make landfall, but those that do have a penchant for the Sunshine State. In fact, eight of the top ten most hurricane-prone cities in the United States are in Florida.
While the Atlantic hurricane season begins in June and ends in November, this year was already noteworthy due to the occurrence of two pre-season storms and to Alex – the first Atlantic hurricane in January since Alice in 1955. Many disaster-related injuries occur once the storm surge flooding, heavy rains, damaging winds, tornadoes, and rip currents subside. Here are a few safety tips to get you and your family safely through:
- Fallen objects, downed power lines, flooded roads, and washed-out bridges continue to be dangerous, so listen to the news for instructions from local governments and stay inside until the authorities say otherwise. If you evacuated, do not return home until allowed by officials.
- Obey all curfew and emergency orders. They are for your own safety.
- If you don’t have power, use flashlights rather than candles.
- Don’t use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any partially enclosed area due to carbon monoxide dangers.
- Refrigerated food may be spoiled. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Inspect your home for damage, especially the roof and the foundation. Be extra cautious on floors that now may be unable to hold much weight and under sagging ceilings that may be retaining water.
- If you smell natural gas or propane or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
- If your home was flooded, assume it is contaminated with mold and seek professional help.
- Wear protective clothing and be careful when cleaning up.
- Watch your children and pets closely. Keep them under your direct control and out of floodwaters.
- Beware of rodents, snakes, insects and other animals that may be on your property or in your home.
- Do not drive or walk through standing water.
- Place piles of debris on the right-of-way, away from fences, mailboxes, drains, power lines, and low-hanging wires. Do not place debris in vacant lots or in front of commercial properties.
- Contact your insurance agent and take pictures of damage. Keeping good records of repair and cleaning costs can make a big difference in getting you what you deserve.
- Register as Safe and Well with the American Red Cross or by calling 1-866-GET-INFO to let your family and friends know about your welfare.
- Stay away from downed power lines and report them to FPL1-800-4OUTAGE.
- Subscribe toMiami-Dade Emergency Alert
- Call 3-1-1 or visit Solid Waste Management for information on waste collection services and hurricane debris pickups.
- The South Florida Water Management District offers a toll-free citizen information line at 1-877-429-1294.
- Access disaster help and resources at the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program.
If you are trying to put your life back together after a hurricane or have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. If your home was damaged and your insurance company denies or undervalues your claim, it’s time to seek legal help. At Stabinski & Funt, P.A., we can communicate with your insurer on your behalf and protect your rights, often without cost to you. Fees and expenses are frequently paid by the insurance company so nothing comes out of your recovery. If there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you.
As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, we have helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies for over 45 years. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us today by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.