Hurricane Idalia is strengthening as it moves towards the west coast of Florida. This storm is expected to be a major hurricane and cause catastrophic storm surge, strong winds, and flash flooding to the west coast of Florida, the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia. It is also expected to spread into portions of the eastern Carolinas.
Take these steps today to prepare for Hurricane Idalia and protect yourself, your family and your home.
After the storm passes, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Make sure you have enough food, water, medication and other supplies to last for several days.
It’s a good idea to build a kit of basic items your household needs, including any supplies your pets or service animals may need. In addition to food and water, here are some important items to include: a flashlight, a first aid kit, a battery powered or hand-crank radio and a whistle to call for help.
Local officials may tell you to evacuate or to stay in place. It’s important to immediately receive these types of emergency alerts so you can quickly take action.
FEMA encourages residents and visitors in the potentially impact areas to pay close attention to local emergency information and alerts. Please sign up for your local weather alerts and pay attention to National Weather Service.
Prepare Your Home
Just one inch of floodwater in a home can cause up to $25,000 in damage. There are some actions you can take before an expected flood that will prevent or reduce flood damage to your home.
- Safeguard important paperwork. Make copies and put them in a waterproof container. If possible, keep your paperwork in a secure password-protected digital space.
- Move valuable belongings. Relocate furniture, rugs, electronics and other important items to upper floors. If that’s not possible, try to raise them off the floor of the ground level.
- Elevate major appliances. Moving appliances onto concrete blocks helps to protect them from water damage.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts. When water cannot flow through the gutters and downspouts, it may back up on the roof and seep under shingles and the sheathing. If you’re able to, clean your gutters and any nearby drainage ditches or storm drains.
- Use temporary flood barriers. You can use sandbags, inflatable floodwalls and flood skirts around your home to reduce the potential of water coming into your home.
Know How to Stay Safe During a Flood
During a flood, you won’t be able to look up how to respond safely, so make sure to read through flood safety tips on Ready.gov. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind during a flood:
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters.
- Stay off bridges over fast moving water. The water can wash bridges away without warning.
- Stay inside your car if it is trapped in rapidly moving water. Get on the roof if water is rising inside the car.
- Get to the highest level if trapped in a building. Only get on the roof if necessary and once you are there, signal for help. Do not climb into a closed attic, you will risk getting trapped by rising flood water.
Know the Additional Risks
Hurricanes can cause major damage and present many different types of risks. Here are some additional risks to consider when preparing for the hurricane.
Storm surge is fast and dangerous flooding caused by hurricane winds. Storm surge is expected along both the east and west Florida coastlines. Some areas on the west coastline may see storm surge up to 15 feet. Make sure to listen to local news and alerts and evacuate if you are instructed to do so.
Hurricanes often cause power outages.
- Take inventory of the items that rely on electricity. If you have critical medical equipment, you can also ask your power provider to put you on a list for priority power restoration. such as medical equipment or medication that depends on refrigeration.
- If you have a generator, remember to ONLY use it outdoors and away from windows.
- If the power goes out, throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has unusual odor, color or texture.
- If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise.
Look Out for Others
Remember that not everyone is able to make these preparations. Check on your neighbors to see if they need information or help preparing.
For more ways you can prepare now for a hurricane, visit ready.gov/hurricanes.