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Now's the time to get ready for 2018 hurricane season

Whew! The worst of the 2017 hurricane season is past us.

That’s the good news. But the 2018 season is coming up. The off-season period – from the end of November to June 1 – is the best time to prepare your home for a hurricane. You have time to get ready, and supplies and equipment are less costly than when the demand is higher.

So what exactly should you do?:

Create your team. Identify those close to you (neighbor, family, friends or faith group) will help you harden your home before the next storm hits. Sometimes you can count on the kindness of strangers, but it’s nice to have a team in place to help you tow in the patio furniture or protect the windows. One tip is to be on each other’s team. This would also be a good time to update or make a family communication plan. For instance, have someone outside the state be the go-to check in person.

Ready the roof. Since we have had two years of active storms statewide, you should definitely have your roof inspected. You’ll want to have a licensed and insured roofer check for holes made by the elements (or squirrels) as well as for loose shingles or tiles, nails and truss straps.

Measure and cut plywood. The coming months would also be the perfect time to measure and cut plywood for your windows. You have the time to properly measure, cut and label each piece for a specific window. Don’t forget to have an easy-to-access spot for the plywood so you can grab them in a jiffy when needed. (PS: Make sure you have enough nails or construction screws, too!) While you’re focusing on your windows, take a look at the caulking to see if there are cracks or it’s been stripped. You’ll want to update that before the hurricane season begins.

Consider hurricane shutters. Metal hurricane shutters can help add to a home’s value and are easier to roll down or slide across than plywood as a storm approaches. Calculate the costs and decide if this is an option for you. Some Floridians are turning to hurricane fabric window coverings, another good option.

Trim the tree. We love our shade for the sweltering Florida summers but we need to mind the potential menace a tree can be during a hurricane. Have an arborist inspect the trees near your home to determine what needs to be cut back. (Hint: if the tree is on city property or easement, they may have to pick up the tab for the tree trimming, especially if the tree is near powerlines.) Since we’re talking about leaves, gutters are often over looked in preparedness. Clear out leaves and debris from all gutters and make sure the gutters are securely fastened.

Update evacuation/hunker down kits. Did you have a hurricane kit before the 2017 hurricane season? Many of our kits have been depleted over the past two seasons. Now is the time to inventory what’s needed for next year. Take advantage of Black Friday or after-holiday sales to replace needed items. The off-season is a good time to buy a generator and other high-priced items. Remember to update medication lists, glasses if you have a new prescription and health insurance cards.

Inventory inside and outside. Now is the perfect time to take inventory of the contents of your home. It’s as easy as the smartphone in your hand. Take photos or videos, close up and far away of expensive furniture, electronics, jewelry, cars, etc. Be sure to store the images and list in the cloud (such as on Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive) and on a flash drive that you can grab quickly when needed. If you haven’t already done so, this would also be the time to scan and store your important documents including: drivers license, birth certificate, will, health insurance cards, legal titles, advanced directive, etc. View FEMA's list here. (These is going in your evacuation kit too, right?)

June 1 is coming, and it will be here before you know it. Take the time and make all the needed changes to ensure when the next storm hits, your home is as ready as can be.

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