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What to do hours before a hurricane hits
In the hours before a hurricane or tropical storm hits, take these steps to prepare:
Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings, to help food last longer.
Fully charge your phone, rechargeable flashlights and emergency power supplies.
Bring in toys, lawn furniture, garbage cans and other items that could become missiles in high winds.
Board your windows or put on hurricane shutters.
Even now, you can take action to harden your home against storm damage. One of the first things you should do is look up.
"Some trees are entirely dead," he said, "but might have a lot of vines in them, so at a glance the tree might appear healthy."
Dead or dying trees can be easily felled by strong winds.
"I've seen trailers squashed like tin cans, cars, boat houses, all kind of items crushed and we've seen more serious stuff," Bradford said.
Even healthy trees can pose a danger, if branches are too low.
"When the winds pick up, we add wind, we add rain to it, the limbs get heavier, they'll be lower, they'll be moving more violently and tearing up your roof."
Improperly cut limbs can cause more damage, because they don't have leafy branches to soften the blow.
"If they ever fall, it's gonna be solid wood," Bradford said. "If they strike something, it's more likely to puncture a roof or other items."
Next, turn your attention to your home itself, where strong hurricane winds and pounding rain can turn a minor problem into major damage.
Contractors recommend using this checklist:
Glue down loose shingles.
Make sure seals are tight where wires or pipes come into your home.
Check gutters and trim to make sure everything is secure.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management has a Hurricane Retrofit Guide showing more home projects that can harden your home against damage.
The prep work you do now may save your home and may also earn discounts on property insurance premiums.