Hurricane Irma: Be Prepared with these Tips on Weathering this Storm
By: Howard Melamed
Now that the National Hurricane Center has indicated that we will positively 100 percent without a doubt be hit by the largest, biggest, unbelievably powerful storm of all time, rather than panic, I am choosing to write.
I am quite tired of the CNN and everyone else telling my how bad it is going to be. I believe as of this date everyone that wanted to get out of town has done so. The only reason CNN is keeping the pressure of how bad things and the world is coming to an end as we know it, is to increase their ratings around the world. You and I elected to stay in Coral Springs and ride out the storm whatever that means. So the best thing that CNN can do for us is to shut up already. We know how bad a hurricane can get and we are well prepared as best as we can to ‘ride it out’.
Having said this, and now that you are here with me let’s make sure about a few things:
Question: I have put the hurricane shutters up. Am I totally safe ?
Answer: You are as safe as you made possible. The shutters and if you have impact resistant windows are there to make sure that the hurricane wind does not break your windows, and pressurize your house blowing your roof off. That is the main reason for the shutters and ‘hurricane proof ‘ glass.
Additionally I would do the following:
- Close all doors in your house. If one window or shutter would break, then you are limiting the ability to save the roof as best as you you can limiting the pressure to only one room. An interior door can take pressurization to a good extent. It opens into the room and has a wood jam ( stopper) making it impossible under normal pressure to blow open. The door can take a pressure in excess of 300 lbs which is the pressure from a 80 mile an hour wind on a 3’x 6′ door. However, since the hurricane wind is going through the breached opening, the pressure that is produced by it is spread over all surfaces of the room. Closing your door limits its destructive force in case of a breach.
- Look around the house to see where is the strongest part of the home – the best room to be in. This can be a bathroom that has a concrete block outside wall and no windows. Bathrooms are normally 5 x 7 feet. with walls around. the short roof span makes this area strong. However, there may be stronger parts of your home – a closet for instance under the stairs, or your laundry room. You should be thinking of a few different spots and then plan out what happens in case there is a problem.
- If you are in a two-story home, make sure you stay on the ground floor. A single story home is more resistant to wind pressure than a two story home. Many two story homes have a plywood – wood stud exterior wall with a stucco coating. It is not as resistant as concrete block walls. To be certain the ground floor is the place you want to be.
- Stay together – During the worst part of the storm, the key is to stay together so you are not going from room to room if something should happen looking for your family to get them to the safe room.
- There is no reason to lower the water level in the swimming pool. For the pool to flood your home, the level of water on your entire land or community needs to rise above the level of the pool. Your pool cannot take the level of rise – so don’t bother!
- Do I need to worry about the water supply from the city? For the most part – no. Our city and other districts gets its water from deep wells – 18 of them – and the public works department has its own diesel generators. All pipes are underground so the chances of losing water pressure is low. However if you do – and you need drinkable water you can use the pool water as long as you boil it to disinfect. You can also add 8 drops of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. However the best is boiling.
- Will I lose power ? It is highly probable. A lot of good work has been done by FPL to make their system robust. However, they still have power lines and poles. In Hurricane Wilma, many concrete posts snapped. So chances are we will lose power.
- Take a video of your entire home – outside and inside. This will be important when you are making an insurance or FEMA claim.
- Can I connect my generator to the house? If it was not designed to be connected and installed by an electrician – Don’t do it. I know some cannot resist reversing the plug and plugging their generator into the wall socket thinking they can supply the house with power. The problem is that if you do not have the right equipment, when the power comes back on, the generator could blow up. Worse, you can electrocute FPL crew trying to bring the power back on line. There are some people that will pull the meter off and connect the generator to the home, but just don’t do it. It’s not worth your life.
- After the storm hits, should I panic and take my car and wait in line at the pump to fill up? Don’t be Stupid. We are not going anywhere for a couple of days since the debris etc will be everywhere.
- Will my cell phone still work? The towers in our area are quite robust but there is no guarantee. If you see ‘no signal’ on your cell phone, I would keep it off and try every hour by turning it back on. This will conserve the battery power . Keeping it on, only drains the power as it constantly searches for a signal.
Remember : 911 services will stop during the peak of the hurricane. However, if you have an emergency, call 954-344-1800 or 911 and at least when they can come out they have you on the list.
We have a scanner radio connected to CoralSprings.com that is tuned into our police and fire department 911 centers. You can listen and hear whats going on in the city. We can have 24 people listening to the link at the same time as long as there is an internet link to our scanner it will continue to work. Another great link is spaghetti models
Last : Don’t be stupid. Most people are killed not from the storm itself but the aftermath. Just because a tree did not fall during the storm does not mean it is not going to fall afterwards. As well, downed power-lines can are dangerous. STAY home ! There is nothing for you to do in the city other than protect your family and yourself.
Good luck and I will see you on the other side of the storm. Hopefully, the government will once again be wrong and the hurricane will pass – far away from us.