ORLANDO, Fla. – Whipping winds and rain can last for hours during a storm. With the threat of tornadoes, power outages and flying debris, conditions can quickly deteriorate with limited warning. Would you know where to go in your home if your house was compromised?
This is where a hurricane-ready safe room could make the difference between life and death.
Nearly 30 years ago, Hurricane Andrew came ashore over South Florida, destroying everything in its path. I owe my life to the safe room my family had prepared. Our house was a complete loss, but that small half-bathroom where we rode out the Category 5 hurricane protected what was most important: our lives.
Along with providing protection, having a designated safe room also gives you a place to store important supplies in case you need to ride out the storm there.
What qualifies as a safe room?
The safest place to be in your home during a hurricane is on the lowest floor. Experts say an interior room away from any windows, doors or skylights is ideal. This could be a bathroom or closet with a door.
What should I pack in a safe room?
What you pack in your safe room is customizable, depending on the needs of your family. Below is a simple list of some items I like to store in my safe space ahead a storm:
- Drinking water: Enough for each person, as well as some extra water for washing hands or flushing the toilet
- Cooler: Store ice or medication that needs to stay refrigerated
- Fan (battery operated): Air conditioning and ceiling fans are usually out of commission
- Flashlights: Each person should have their own light source, along with battery lanterns or even tap lights
- Baby wipes: This can be useful even if you do not have a baby
- Ziploc bags: Resealable plastic bags work great for waterproofing important documents, cash and cellphones and even sealing up smelly items, like baby diapers
- Bug repellent: Mosquitoes are a big problem, especially after a storm
- First-aid kit: Complete with antiseptic, bandages and aspirin
- Communication: Several forms of communication is ideal. This includes a NOAA weather radio, AM/FM radio and a charged cellphone
Remember, you could be in the room for a while, so make sure you have some extra items to help pass the time and keep you comfortable. This is a great opportunity to get the whole family involved in hurricane preparations.
Some other suggested items include:
- Snacks: Keep a small box of nonrefrigerated snacks, like bars, chips and cookies
- Blankets/towels: I like to add these on the tile floor. A cushioned yoga mat also helps
- Pillows: If space allows, some pillows could help add extra comfort
- Entertainment: This could include card games or a special toy. I find it helpful for children to have their favorite toy in there to ease any storm anxiety they might have
Once you’ve completed each step, your safe room should be ready to be put to use, though we hope you never have to.
For more on ways to prepare for storms, visit ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane.