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Before a Hurricane

It's important to discuss your family emergency plan ahead of time. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what to do in case of an emergency.

As you prepare your emergency kit, become familiar with common hurricane terms. For additional storm preparation information, visit Ready South Florida.

  • Prepare Your Home

    • Make sure all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (important for generator use) are operational.
    • Protect areas where wind can enter.
    • Withdraw cash from the bank and get fuel for your vehicle, generator and other gas-powered tools.
    • Have battery-powered light sources available and ready for use.
    • Protect electronics with surge protectors and waterproof coverings.
    • If power is lost, lighting will be poor inside, so keep heavy-traffic areas free of clutter. 
    • Bring in lawn furniture or other outdoor items not tied down that could become airborne.
    • Repair or replace broken or damaged fences.
    • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris.
    • Inspect the roof for loose tiles, shingles or debris.
    • Make sure you have homeowners, flood and wind insurance.
    • Make bed rolls from your existing comforters and blankets.
    • If you will be evacuating your home for the storm, turn off the power at the main circuit breaker before leaving.
  • Waste Disposal

    • Dispose of your household and yard trash before a storm.
    • If you receive waste collection services from Miami-Dade County, schedule a bulky waste pickup online before a storm threatens or by calling 311. Miami-Dade County solid waste customers can dispose of tree cuttings and other household trash at any of the 13 neighborhood trash and recycling centers.
    • All County residents can take hazardous home chemicals - oil-based paints, pesticides, pool chemicals, etc. - to one of two home chemical collection centers.
    • Landscapers and residents should not blow grass clippings onto sidewalks, streets and storm drains, which can lead to street flooding. Instead, they should be bagged or blown back onto the lawn where they can serve as natural mulch.
    • Secure your trash and recycling carts in a garage, utility shed or covered patio.
    • Do not begin any tree pruning or cleanup activities, or place trash on the curb, during a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning.

    If you do not receive waste collection services from Miami-Dade County, contact your city for information about waste removal services.

  • Drinking Water

    Rather than buying bottled water, invest in plastic water containers for your family.

    • Fill aluminum or plastic containers with potable water once a hurricane warning is announced. Plan for at least one gallon per person per day for 3 to 7 days. Keep other containers two-thirds full with potable water and place them in your freezer for ice after a storm.
    • Before filling your water containers, wash them out with soap and water and rinse them well. Next, fill the container with a solution of one tablespoon of unscented household chlorine bleach — the kind used for laundry — per gallon of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then pour out the solution and rinse the container.
    • Keeping water stored for too long could attract harmful bacteria and make the water taste stale, so wait until a hurricane warning is announced.
    • Plastic water containers are available in a variety of sizes, from four to 10 gallons or more, and some are collapsible or can be folded easily for storage. They're built to last for years, so you'll save money in the long run.
  • Prepare Your Boat

    If you own a boat, remember to secure it properly well before a storm approaches. Use double lines at a marina or consider dry-dock storage. Never try to ride out a hurricane in your boat.

    All marinas will close when sustained winds reach 39 mph. Biscayne National Park tows all boats to the Everglades and closes at least 24 hours before the landfall of a tropical storm or hurricane.

    • Check your marina contract for policies and procedures for hurricanes.
    • Consolidate all records, including insurance policies, a recent photo of your vessel, boat lease agreement with the marina or storage area, and telephone numbers of appropriate authorities.
    • Evidence shows that boats stored on land fare better on average in a hurricane compared to boats kept in the water.
    • Trailer boats should be removed from the water and securely stored at least 48 hours before a hurricane is expected to make landfall.
    • Moor the boat in a previously identified safe area.
    • Purchase necessary hurricane materials such as additional mooring lines, crew anchors, fenders, fender boards, chafing gear and anchors.
    • After you have made anchoring or mooring provisions, remove all moveable equipment such as canvas, sails, dinghies, radios, cushions, Biminis and roller furling sails.

    Once evacuations have started off the barrier islands, Intracoastal Waterway bridges open very infrequently to allow marine traffic to pass until lockdown.

    Local law enforcement agencies will issue advisories regarding when bridges will be locked down to marine traffic. Bridges generally go into lockdown at least eight hours before winds of 39 mph are expected.

    Owners who tie-up their vessels unlawfully in the Miami River, blocking federal navigable waterway access, may be fined and have their vessels removed.

  • Construction Sites

    In the event of a tropical storm warning or hurricane watch, licensed contractors are obligated to secure their work sites. Potentially hazardous objects must be fastened down or removed.

  • Window and Door Protection

    Windows and doors should be secured with County-approved storm shutters or by boarding up windows with 5/8-inch plywood. Inspect existing shutters to ensure they are in good working order. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.

    Once your windows and doors are shuttered or boarded, it will be more difficult to get out in the case of an emergency, so make sure that you and everyone in the house is aware of the available exits.

    Metal hurricane shutters are reliable and economical, and you can choose from several different types. Each type has its sets of pros and cons, so be sure to do your research before committing to a type of metal hurricane shutters.

    Windows with impact-resistant glass have become more common over the years, and the technology has improved to the point that they can withstand Category 5 wind conditions. Impact-resistant glass is expensive, but it can also help reduce insurance costs.

    Be sure to reinforce garage doors and tracks or replace with a hurricane-tested door.

    Shutter installation assistance

    Two Miami-Dade County programs provide hurricane shutter installation assistance to qualified residents.

    The Paint and Hurricane Shutter Program is a year-round program that assists homeowners with having the hurricane shutters installed and/or the exterior of their home painted, and is offered first-come, first-served basis.

    The Residential Shuttering Program is offered during hurricane season only for seniors and adults with disabilities who already have shutters and need assistance installing them when a storm is coming. This program does not provide new shutters to residents.

  • Prepare Your Business

    • Back up critical computer data and store it off premises.
    • Make a complete inventory of your business and take plenty of pictures.
    • Make sure employee emergency contact information is up to date, and that you have an employee communication plan in place, which includes a designated out of town phone number where employees can check in and receive company information.
    • Create procedures for hurricanes so employees will know what to do and post them in advance.
    • Protect electronic equipment from possible water damage.
    • Have extra cash and blank checks in case extra money is needed after the storm.
    • Establish a temporary location for business operations in case your facility is damaged.
    • Identify a safe room for employees who must remain in the building.
    • Give employees enough time to secure their homes and families.
    • Secure the building and items that cannot be brought inside.
  • Tourists

    Listen to announcements from your hotel, cruise line or airline. Be sure to follow any orders issued by local officials, such as evacuation and sheltering.

Department Main Image
Fire Rescue
Dave Downey, Fire Chief

R. David Paulison Fire Rescue Headquarters
9300 NW 41st Street
Miami, FL 33178-2414
786-331-5000