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Hurricane Preparedness and Safety in Palm Beach County

Hurricane Preparedness and Safety in Palm Beach County

Hurricane Season begins every year on June 1. With every storm, severe damage may be seen in the community and some trees may survive with only minor change. Hurricanes are strong storms that can be life-threatening as well as cause serious hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. Learn what to do to protect your home and family before, during and after the storm!

Before Storm Season

It can be difficult to protect your home and yard from the strong winds of a hurricane, but there are some steps you can take to help minimize the damage before storm season hits.

Know Local Hazards, Zones and How to Stay in Touch

  • Find out what reoccurring hazards are prone to your local area; consult the Palm Beach County Evacuation Tool for Storm Surge Information
  • Sign up for AlertPBC Notifications
  • Determine where you can get building supplies or groceries during a disaster
  • Make a Family Disaster Plan and practice it with family members
  • Plan how to stay in touch with family and friends if everyday methods of communication are not available
  • Pre-register for Special Needs and Pet-Friendly Shelters (South Florida Fairgrounds)
  • Build a Kit-Having the right items during a disaster can make all the difference!

Minimizing damage to Landscape

  • Plant the Right Trees in the Right Location - Some trees are prone to more storm damage than others. For example, trees that are shallow-rooted in soft soil have a tendency to topple over in high winds. Carefully decide on the type of tree you plant in your yard, but also where you plant it.
  • Prune Properly  - Proper pruning is a good way to help prevent property damage in the event of a storm. It is best to have a licensed Tree Service Company trim dead, damaged or diseased tree limbs, and those that are too close to your home or near power lines. Also, make sure to have them look around the yard for any cracked, hollow or decayed trees and have them removed to help minimize the possibility of a strong storm uprooting them.
  • Use Soft Mulch - If you have rock or pea gravel in your flower beds or along paths around your yard, we suggest you consider replacing the materials with shredded bark or other soft mulch. During high winds, small rocks can become projectiles, often breaking windows (Even Impact Windows) or damaging the siding of the house. Shredded bark or mulch is often softer and less dangerous if caught in the wind.
  • Remove Storm Hazards - If a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching, remember to bring anything that can be a potential wind hazard or projectile (toys, potted plants, lawn furniture) inside. The South Florida Water Management District also suggests running a check of the yard to determine whether any debris in your swales or drainage systems might prevent water from flowing away from your property.

Before the Storm

Protecting Your Family

  • Talk with your family about what to do if a hurricane strikes. Discussing hurricanes ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children
  • Ensure that every member of your family carries a Safe and Well wallet card.
  • Search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store >> or Google Play>>
  • Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio at the Red Cross Store
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a hurricane like the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Take pictures and video on a phone to store in the cloud and keep copies of important documents and files on a flashdrive or cloud that you can carry with you.

Protecting Your Home

  • Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or invest in one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
  • Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans (away from stairs and exits) to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurting someone.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
  • Remember that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.

After the Storm

  • Protect Yourself - Always be careful when entering a damaged building. If there is serious structural damage, contact local officials before entering. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.
  • Protect Your Property - Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay for regarding protection.
  • Report Losses As Soon As Possible - Contact your insurance agent or insurer as soon as you can. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number and work schedule as soon as you have them.
  • Prepare A List - Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and consider photographing or videotaping the damage to document your claim. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster.
  • Keep Receipts - If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.
  • Return Claim Forms - After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, they must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days (time period varies by state). Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanation.
  • Cleanup - When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear and gloves if available. Adjusters may tell business owners to hire a professional cleaning service.