Century 21 Schwartz Realty
101925 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037
The hurricane season begins in early summer and lasts through late fall - June thru November. It is important for you to know what to do in case of emergency. You should have a plan ready for your home and your loved ones, with everyone knowing what to do. Consider these when putting together your plan.
See My Rolodex and Helpful Links for a list of contacts that might be useful before, during, and after a storm.
Classifying a Hurricane
Cyclones with wind speeds that exceed 74 mph (64 knots) and circulate (counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere) are referred to as hurricanes in the Atlantic, and Eastern and Central Pacific Oceans. The classifications for all tropical cyclones are:
A rotary circulation in the upper atmosphere that produces little to no effect on the surface. They are fairly common occurrences in the tropics.
A low-pressure area that produces some rotary circulation on the ocean's surface. Tropical depressions sustain wind speeds of less than 39 mph.
A low-pressure area with a distinct rotary circulation. Tropical storms have wind speeds of 39 to 73 mph.
A low-pressure area with a pronounced rotary circulation. Hurricane wind speeds are at least 74 mph and can on rare occasions reach up to 200 mph in strong Category 5 hurricanes. Many hurricanes measure 300 miles across, but they have been known to span a 600 mile diameter.
The Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale is used internationally to determine a hurricane's strength and predict the amount of damage it might cause.
Advisories warn us of impending danger from severe weather. Here are the specific advisories to note during hurricane season.
Tropical Storm Watch: Wind speeds of 39-73 mph are expected within 36 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning: Wind speeds of 39-73 mph are expected within 24 hours.
Hurricane Watch: Wind speeds of 74 mph or higher are expected within 36 hours.
Hurricane Warning: Wind speeds of 74 mph or higher are expected within 24 hours.
Before The Storm
Prepare an emergency kit. Have all of these items in 1 or 2 easy-to-carry containers with lids. The kit should include the following items:
If you have pets, make sure you also have these items:
- Battery-operated radio
- Extra batteries
- Prescription medicines (make sure to fill "extras" in advance so that you have a 2-week supply)
- First-aid kit
- Drinking water (enough for 1 gallon per person per day for 5 days)
- Non-perishable foods (soups, canned meats, crackers, granola bars, dried fruits, trail mix)
- Large trash bags
- Can Opener
- Plastic Utensils
- Paper plates & napkins
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Insect repellant
- Toilet paper
- Feminine products
- Extra clothes (especially under-garments) and shoes
Take photos or video of your property (interior and exterior) and store this data with your insurance documents and other important papers. These items should be easily mobilized so that you can take them with you if and when you evacuate.
- Medications, medical records, and photos stored with other important documents
- Sturdy collars, harnesses, leashes, and carriers
- Food and water for at least 3 days for each pet
- Toys/beds to reduce stress
Make sure all vehicles have a full tank of gas.
Have your address clearly marked in the front of your home.
Fill bathtubs(s) and sinks with water prior to the storm. To keep water from leaking, cover the drain with a clean sheet of plastic before filling.
Check for loose shingles on your roof. Make sure gutters are tightly hinged and that they drain freely. Check the storm drains for any clogging. Check all windows and doors to ensure they are caulked sufficiently.
Properly installing approved hurricane shutters over windows and doors is highly recommended to protect your home against strong winds. If your home is not equipped with hurricane shutters, as last resort, secure 3/4" plywood over windows and doors. Have the plywood sheets pre-cut, marked, labeled, drilled, stored, and ready to install quickly when needed.
Trim trees or branches. Remove coconuts. Remove lawn chairs, trash containers, potted plants, bird feeders, and any other outdoor items not secured.
Back up your computer's files on CD or flash drive and keep it with your important papers.
Designate a family member or friend outside of the threatened area that you will keep informed. Instruct other friends and family members to contact that person so that you only have to inform one person.
Protecting Your Boat
- Check the water seals and overall watertight integrity. Use canvas tape to cover any cracks or openings on the craft.
- Make sure the deck hardware is still structurally sound.
- Make sure you have enough rope and line to double-line the moorings.
- Ensure lines are high enough on pilings to allow for extreme ebb and flow of the ocean during storm surges.
- Cover ropes where they rub against the boat and tie points with leather or rubber (old inner tubes or garden hoses work well).
- Make sure batteries for bilge pumps are fresh.
- Tie old tire around the boat to protect it from being pushed into other docked boats, piers, pilings, etc.
- Inventory all vessel equipment, placing copies on board and in your emergency kit.
- Coordinate your mooring plans with the boat owners around you.
- Consider dry-dock storage if you don't usually use your boat during hurricane season.
- If on land... 1) remove and store the outboard motor, battery, and electronic units 2) deflate the trailer tires 3) tie down the boat and trailer 4) if small boat, fill with water to add weight.
If you live in a mobile home or RV, you must evacuate regardless of your location or tie-down as it is not safe for anyone to remain in a mobile home or travel trailer during storm conditions of ANY category. Evacuation of mobile homes and RVs may be ordered even before a Hurricane Watch or Warning has been issued. Be ready!
If you plan to leave your mobile home or RV during hurricane season (June 1 - November 30), before you go, you should: inspect all tie-downs and be certain they comply with Monroe County Code; shut off water, electricity, and LP gas; put up the storm shutters; secure your boat; lower any TV masts or antennas; notify the park operator or a neighbor that you intend to be away during hurricane season.
If you plan to move your RV out of Monroe County before a hurricane, you must leave when it is recommended by Emergency Management. DO NOT DELAY! Once a general evacuation has been ordered, high-profile vehicles will not be allowed on the road.
Evacuation becomes mandatory for everyone in Monroe County when a category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane threatens. Contrary to popular belief, the reef DOES NOT provide protection from the threat of storm surge. There is no safe place in Monroe County during a severe storm.
Monroe County's Comprehensive Emergency Plan calls for a "Phased Evacuation". This evacuation plan is intended to avoid unnecessary evacuation if some zones are expected to be affected and others are not. Locate the zone you live in so that you will know when to leave if an evacuation for your zone becomes necessary.
Zone 1: MM 0 to MM 6
Zone 2: MM 6 to MM 40
Zone 3: MM 40 to MM 63
Zone 4: MM 63 to 3-way stop at CR 905-A
Zone 5: CR 905-A to mainland Monroe County, including Ocean Reef
Sheltering in Monroe County
For category 1 or 2 storms, you may choose to go to a Monroe County shelter near your home.
- Glynn Archer Elementary School, 1302 White Street, Key West
- Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Avenue, Key West (Special Needs)
- Sugarloaf Elementary School, MM 19 US 1 and Crane Boulevard Bayside
- Stanley Switlik Elementary School, MM 48 US 1 Bayside
- Island Christian School, MM 83.5 US 1 Bayside
- Plantation Key Elementary School, MM 90 US 1 Bayside
- Coral Shores High School, MM 90 US 1 Oceanside
- Key Largo Elementary School, MM 105 US 1 Oceanside
- St Justin Martyr Catholic Church Hall, MM 105.5 US 1 Bayside
Bring your evacuation/emergency kit with you. Remember that there are no shelters in Monroe County that would be safe in a category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane. Evacuation of all Monroe County residents and visitors is mandatory in category 3, 4, or 5 storms. After an evacuation has been ordered, you will not be able to get medical, fire-rescue, or law enforcement assistance until storm conditions subside, roads are passable, and equipment is operable.Out-of-County Sheltering - Category 3, 4, and 5 Storms
Directions to Florida International University (FIU) shelter: Take the Florida Turnpike north toward Orlando. Exit at US 41/SW 8th Street, exit #25. Bear right and merge with traffic on SW 8th Street. Take the first right, into the FIU campus. Turn left at the first stop sign and follow Loop Road until you reach parking lots 3 through 7. The Monroe County Shelter is located in the Charles Perry Building on the right hand side of the road across from these parking lots.
You must be able to administer your own medications.
No alcoholic beverages, firearms, or pets will be allowed in shelters.
If you need transportation to a shelter, or if you have special medical needs, you must register in advance. Call 800-516-1665.
Remember: If you are dependent on any medical device that requires electricity to function, there may not be power for several days or weeks after a severe storm.
It is not recommended that Monroe County residents leave pets at home when evacuating. Make reservations at a pet-friendly hotel out of the threatened area before you leave, and bring your pets with you. You may choose to make arrangements for your pet outside the evacuation area or to kennel your pet outside the evacuation area. Remember: No pets are allowed in public shelters.
During The Storm
- Keep the radio close by and listen to updates and advisories often.
- Stay away from windows or any glass-covered openings.
- Go to the lowest floor of the home.
- Find a room that is structurally reinforced - a bathroom or closet.
- If the power goes out, turn off your water heater, air conditioner, and heater to reduce the chance of damage.
- If flooding occurs, turn off all electricity at the main breaker box.
- Do not use the computer or any electrical device during the storm.
- Do not use charcoal or gas grills indoors.