Hurricane prep in south Florida is no laughing matter. The combination of stiff trade winds coming off the coast of Africa with the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, often paint a bull’s-eye on the entire state of Florida.

This leaves south Florida getting the full force of a hurricane’s brute strength in many cases and glancing blows that can prove every bit as lethal in others. There are three stages of storm prep you need to concern yourself with in order to protect your south Florida property and family.

Before the Storm

It’s a good idea to build a steady supply of storm prep items throughout the year so that you’re not fighting for the last loaf of bread at your local supermarket. Your storm prep kit should include many common items you’ll need during the storm if you decide to ride it out as well as things you’ll need to take with you if you decide the prudent course is to evacuate. Consider storing these items in large, waterproof duffle bags you can easily grab and go if necessary. These are a few items you should consider including.

Canned meats, vegetables, and fruits
Peanut butter
Cracker snacks
Fruit snacks
Bottled water
Flashlights
Batteries
Matches
A small axe (floodwaters come into a home quickly at times and an axe can be used to break through the roof from an attic if it becomes necessary to do so – they are also highly useful for those who need to tackles trees and fallen limbs after the storm)
Propane tanks for cooking
Gas for your generator
A change of clothing
Cash
Prescription medications (also consider storing chocolate kisses or something similar in sealed sandwich bags to help regulate blood sugar if necessary – as you may have to go several days without refrigeration)
Baby items (formula, diapers, etc.)
Travel size toiletries
Then there is the inevitable yard and home defense. Plantation shutters are ideal as they are simple to close and lock tight leaving you only to worry about items on your lawn to lock down and put away during the storm. For those who do not have shutters, there are hurricane window clips (Plylox) that are simple to install that reduce the time you must invest in storm prep considerably.

During the Storm

If you’ve decided to ride out the storm, plan to stay inside as long as it is safe to do so. Do not venture out to survey damage while the eye is passing over and do not attempt to drive to safety during this brief moment of calm you can easily become trapped or find areas where the road has been washed away.

Place milk cartons filled with water and other water bottles (with a little water removed to allow for expansion) and place them in the freezer to fill up any available space. This will help food remain cold longer and, as it melts, can help you cool off as you may go several days without electricity.

Plan activities and games to keep the family entertained during prolonged periods without power. Have a safety plan in place if evacuation becomes necessary and make sure everyone in the household knows the drill.

After the Storm

Depending on the size and scale of the storm and the damage it leaves behind, people who remained in their homes may be stuck there for several days while those who evacuated may be forced to wait longer periods of time before returning to their homes. Be prepared for prolonged or extended time away from home and even returning to homes that have damaged and may lack power for days or even weeks afterwards.

Evacuation, though it can be costly, is almost always the safest path to follow when hurricanes strike south Florida. Pay attention to the project path of the hurricane and choose evacuation routes that take you in opposite directions. The most important thing is that you prepare for what lies ahead to the best of your ability and take action in the critical hours before the first bands of the storm come ashore.