Hurricane tips by Storm Smart in Fort Myers, FL

Hurricane season can be a trying time. We’ve put together some handy tips to ensure you and your family are prepared in the event Southwest Florida is threatened by a hurricane or major storm.

Write a plan. (video)
Putting a detailed plan in writing is the most important part of hurricane season preparation. After all, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You are also less likely to panic with a plan in place.

Include your pets.
Pets are members of the family. Fewer shelters and hotels allow them. Have a cage or carrier, licenses and immunization records with you. Know if you’re boarding or taking your pet and be ready in advance of mandatory evacuation.

Review Your Insurance. (video)
Talk to your agent before hurricane season begins. Make sure your policies are up to date and cover any modifications to your home since the last effective coverage date.

Protect important info.
Back up all your vital records, emails and programs to a portable hard drive or the cloud so if you have to leave your home, you have that data with you or can access it remotely.

Document your possessions. (video)
Before hurricane season starts, document all your possessions. Make video records of everything you own inside and outside the house. If you need to file a claim, you have proof of loss or damage.

Stock a kit. (video)
Have a kit already prepared that has all your important papers, medicines, nonperishable food, drinks, a nonelectric cooking appliance, cooler, cleaning supplies and anything you will need to get by for a few days.

Keep valuables elevated. (video)
If you evacuate, raise your furniture, appliances and devices, including all electronics, off the floor in case of flooding. Most electronics are water-resistant—but not waterproof.

Secure your boat.
Get it out of the water or further inland in case a storm is coming. Even in a mild storm, the water in canals, rivers and bays can toss the biggest boats around.

Plan evacuation routes. (video)
Yes, routes plural. Hurricanes can come from anywhere and move in any direction. Plan where you’re going, how you will get there and what time you’re leaving. Monitor road conditions and account for traffic jams and fuel shortages. Leave at the earliest safe opportunity.

Plan return routes.(video)
Coming home after a storm is not always as straightforward as you think. Freeways may be jammed. Fuel may still be hit or miss, station by station. Apps like Waze and GasBuddy can help you decide the best course to take.

Hire licensed contractors. (video)
Disasters are opportunities for scam artists. If your home suffers hurricane damage, only hire contractors who are licensed and insured. Make sure they get all necessary permits. Your insurance company will require all this documentation to honor your claim.

Hurricanes wreak havoc and are unpredictable. But planning will minimize the stress, anxiety, discomfort, hassle and suffering that major storms generate.