Preparation for a hurricane starts long before a storm sighting. The start of hurricane season, June 1, offers the perfect opportunity to review supplies, plans and best practices for hurricane safety.

At Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County, our mission includes more than building affordable housing. It also involves working with families to keep their current homes stable, safe and affordable.

Use the advice below to help keep your home safe and secure during a hurricane. These tips encompass caring for your home before, during, and after a storm. You can find additional suggestions from the Department of Homeland Security, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Red Cross.

Before the storm

  • Restock your emergency kit. You should have enough nonperishable food (such as canned meats and vegetables) and water for each person and pet in your household for at least three days. Your kit should also include a battery-powered or hand crank radio, first-aid kit, garbage bags, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a manual can opener, a fire extinguisher, etc.
  • Gather safety equipment for repairing or cleaning up your home after the storm such as gloves or hard hats.
  • Fill plastic bottles and pitchers with clean water for drinking. Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or cleaning.
  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside – think patio furniture, garbage cans, potted plants, etc. These items could go flying in high winds.
  • Trim your trees and bushes to prevent branches from later hitting your property. Make sure to dispose of the trimmed debris before a storm.
  • Consider covering your home’s windows. While storm shutters offer the best protection, 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood can be used as well.
  • Pack up important documents – such as wills, home insurance information and passports – in a sealed plastic storage bag.
  • Purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Lower your refrigerator’s thermostat to the coolest possible temperature to better preserve your food.
  • Make sure you have cleanup safety gear such as goggles, work gloves and earplugs.
  • Unplug small appliances to reduce potential power surge damage.
  • Take “before” photos of your property (interior and exterior) for future insurance claims.

During the storm

  • Stay inside – even if the weather looks clear – until otherwise instructed by emergency personnel or media.
  • If the lights go out, use flashlights instead of candles to prevent possible house fires.
  • Stay away from windows. Remain in an interior room until the storm passes.
  • Be ready to evacuate if instructed to do so by emergency authorities – or if your home is severely damaged.

After the storm

  • Take photos of any damage to your property for future insurance claims.
  • Wear protective clothing – gloves, long pants and closed-toe shoes – while cleaning up your property. Complete clean-up tasks with a partner, not on your own.
  • Pace yourself while working outside. Take plenty of water and rest breaks.
  • Don’t touch wet electrical equipment. Avoid touching electrical equipment if you are in water. To prevent being shocked, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box – but only if it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid flood water, which can contain dangerous debris, sewage or downed power lines.
  • Mold may develop if your home was flooded and remained damp for 24-48 hours. Visit the Center for Disease Control’s mold cleanup guide to learn more.
  • Keep lit grills several feet away from your home, fence or trees – and monitor them.

Hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30 – so remember to replace any used supplies or equipment following each storm. Stay safe, and have a fun, happy summer!