It was exactly twenty years ago that Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida and would forever change the lives of people who lived through it. I run into residents all the time who moved north after the storm to make new lives in our area. Even if you didn’t live through it you’re impacted by the building codes, emergency planning and evacuation areas that were developed after the storm. Even the introduction of this hurricane guide was a direct result of Andrew and our responsibility to keep you safe and prepared.
This year our WPTV Hurricane Survival Guide has gone through the most significant change in more than a decade. As storm research evolves so does the planning and preparation you need to protect your family. It’s important that you take a look at the new evacuation zones in this guide and see how they affect you. Many residents who weren’t in mandatory evacuation areas after Frances, Jeanne and Wilma will be, and that creates a new challenge of deciding where you will go. As always, we recommend you stay in your house if you’re located outside a mandatory evacuation area. Make sure your home can withstand hurricane force winds. If not, stay with friends or family in your county or a neighboring county rather than clogging highways to the west and north. Do not be fooled by the predictions of an average or below average hurricane season. 1992 was a slow season. In fact the first storm did not form until late August. The storm was Andrew, a category 5 hurricane that changed South Florida forever. The WPTV Storm Team will be tracking every storm this year with our Live VIPIR 5 Max radar, and with wptv.com and our partners at FOX29, Clear Channel radio and every major newspaper in the area, we’ll be bringing you life-saving information. You can rely on us for the most accurate information before, during and after a storm.
CAT 5 Hurricane Shutters is located in West Palm Beach, Florida, Palm Beach County. We design, manufacture and install hurricane shutters according to the 2010 FL bldg. codes. We are licensed CGC # 1517869.
We service Palm Beach County, Broward County as well as the upper and middle Florida Keys in Florida. We are licensed and insured. CGC# 157869.
We service Palm Beach County, includes cities such as Atlantic, Boca Raton, DelRay Beach, Boynton Beach, Greenacres, Hypoluxo, Jupiter, Lake Clarke Shore, Lake Park, Lake Worth, Lantana, North Palm beach, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Springs, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Wellington. In Broward County we have worked in cities such as City of Coral Springs, City of Deerfield Beach, City of North Lauderdale, Lauderdale by the Sea, North Lauderdale, Lighthouse Pointe, Miramar, Oakland Park, Parkland, Pompano Beach, Plantation, as well as the upper and middle Florida Keys in Florida. We are licensed and insured.
Contact us for a free estimate at (561) 333-2285 or http://www.cat5shutters.net
Emergency Municipality Numbers
Atlantis 561 965-1700
Belle Glade 561 688-3400
Boca Raton 561 368-6201
Boynton Beach 561 732-8116
Briny Breezes 561 276-7405
Cloud Lake 561 688-3400
Delray Beach 561 243-7800
Glen Ridge 561 688-3400
Golf 561 688-3400
Greenacres 561 642-2160
Gulf Stream 561 688-3400
Haverhill 561 689-0370
Highland Beach 561 266-5800
Hypoluxo 561 688-3400
Juno Beach 561 626-2100
Jupiter 561 262-7548
Jupiter Inlet Colony 561 746-3787
Lake Clarke Shores 561 964-1114
Lake Park 561 688-3400
Lake Worth 561 688-3400
Lantana 561 540-5700
Manalapan 561 585-4030
Mangonia Park 561 688-3400
North Palm Beach 561 848-2525
Ocean Ridge 561 732-8331
Pahokee 561 688-3400
Palm Beach 561 838-5454
Palm Beach Gardens 561 799-4445
Palm Beach Shores 561 844-3456
Palm Springs 561 968-8243
Riviera Beach 561 845-4123
Royal Palm Beach 561 688-3400
South Bay 561 688-3400
South Palm Beach 561 586-2122
Tequesta 561 575-6210
Wellington 561 688-3400
West Palm Beach 561 822-1900
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Emergency Mgmt. 561 712-6400
TDD (Hearing Impaired) 561 712-6343
Red Cross 561 833-7711
Sheriff 561 688-3400
Building Dept. 561 233-5000
Animal Control 561 233-1200
Victim Services 561 355-2418
Hotline 866 891-7273 TDD 561 355-1772
Emergency Mgmt. 772 287-1652
Red Cross 772 287-2002
Sheriff 772 220-7170
Building Dept. 772 288-5916
Animal Control 772 463-3211
Stuart PD 772 287-1122
St. Lucie County
Emergency Mgmt. 772 462-8100
Red Cross 772 878-7077
Sheriff 772 462-7300
Building Dept. 772 462-1553
Health Dept. 772 873-4924
Animal Control 772 462-8120
Ft. Pierce PD 772 467-6803
Port St. Lucie 772 871-5000
Indian River County
Emergency Mgmt. 772 567-2154
Red Cross 772 562-2549
Sheriff 772 569-6700
Building Dept. 772 226-1260
Animal Control 772 226-3485
Vero Beach PD 772 978-4600
Sebastian PD 772 589-5233
Emergency Mgmt. 863 763-3212
Red Cross 863 763-2488
Sheriff 863 763-3117
Building Dept. 863 763-5548
Animal Control 863 357-3225
Okeechobbe City PD 863 763-5521
Emergency Mgmt. 863 612-4700
Red Cross 863 902-1220
Sheriff 863 674-5600
Building Dept. 863 983-1463
Animal Control 863 675-3381
Florida Dept. of Financial Services
State Farm 800 732-5246
Allstate 800 255-7828
Citizens 866 411-2742
Nationwide 800 421-3535
USAA (Military) 800 531-872
DEVELOPING YOUR PLAN
At the beginning of each hurricane season, you need to review, practice and update your family plan. Everyone should have a role in the plan, including children.
Check with your county office of emergency management now to see if you need to evacuate. If you do, ecide if your family can stay with friends or relatives outside evacuation zones who live in a hurricane-safe house. Assign responsibility for food, water and must-have supplies. Another option is to evacuate to an inland hotel.
LEAVING THE AREA
Plan on leaving as early as possible, but consider evacuating 10s of miles not 100s.
Flying out: Be prepared for airport closings, full or cancelled flights.
Driving out: Tropical storms and hurricanes are notorious for changing direction. If you drive out, you may find yourself headed directly into a threatened area, or you could get trapped in traffic. Leave early and have an alternative evacuation plan.
LAST RESORT EVACUATION
A Red Cross shelter should be your last resort. Do not go until you hear from officials that the specific shelter has opened. Shelters will be crowded and uncomfortable. Be sure to bring:
• Pillows and blankets
• Food, water and prescription medicines
• Small toys, games and books for young children
• No pets, alcohol or firearms allowed
IF YOU DO NOT EVACUATE
• Retrofit your home prior to hurricane season.
• Install shutters or check shutters to ensure that they are operable.
• Use the list of must-have supplies on page 4.
• Identify a safe room in your house. A safe room has no windows and will protect your family if your house should break apart during a storm. Examples are a large interior closet, hallway, bathroom or stairwell.
• Designate an out-of-town emergency contact.
• Consider using the Red Cross website:
SPECIAL MEDICAL NEEDS
If you or someone you know requires non-critical medical support, pre-register with your county office of emergency management for a SpecialCare shelter. Bring supplies for three days including food, water, medicine, nebulizer and oxygen equipment. If you have a breathing problem, the American Lung Association suggests getting a doctor’s recommendation for your special medical needs during a severe weather emergency. Keep extra medical items on hand in case of a severe weather emergency such as:
• Have a backup battery for ventilators.
• Have a backup oxygen cylinder (48-hour supply).
• Ask your medical supply vendor about services they provide in the event of a hurricane and/or power failure.
• Check with your employer for any special job responsibilities when a storm threatens. Make sure they understand that you will require time to prepare your home and family.
• Assign an emergency meeting place in case your family gets separated.
Hurricane Shutters. Figure out what’s right for you.
Homeowners have a number of choices to protect their windows in a storm. The prices are as varied as the products. Here are some considerations as you review your choices in window protection: It’s a lot easier to pull an accordion shutter across sliding glass doors or to push a button and watch motorized shutters roll down. (You can even get these with a wind vane that rolls them down automatically when the winds reach a certain speed). Advocates of impact-resistant glass and window films say their products are always in place, need no lastminute installation, and provide sun and burglary protection. Window film, however, does not pass the Miami-Dade certification test because the film doesn’t strengthen the frame. It won’t stop your glass from shattering; it will hold the pieces in place. A film-covered window will withstand only whatever wind load it can handle without the film. Therefore, consult with the manufacturer to learn more on how this product is designed and tested.
Can you install the protection yourself, or do you know someone who will do it for you? Screwing plywood panels in place is a heavy, awkward task that typically takes more than one person. Many plywood users who emerged from the 2004 season of back-to-back storms vowed, “Never again”. If you already have window protection, are you ready to roll? Do you know where the Tapcons or wing nuts or other fasteners are? Do you know how to install or operate your protection?
Plywood is the covering of first or last resort for many homeowners, but it’s heavy and hard to store and attach when a storm nears. If it gets soaked repeatedly, the layers can peel apart. It’s a fire and termite hazard. If you choose to use it, the panels should be measured, drilled and labeled in advance. A 4 X 8-foot sheet of 5/8-inch plywood costs about $16.99 these days.
Storage space can be a problem for plywood and for heavy stacks of aluminum or steel panels. Those metal panels can tear up your hands or cause serious injury if a stack of them drops on your foot.
PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY
Before hurricane warnings, find out what storm damages your home insurance covers and whether you need to add more protection. If a hurricane destroyed your home, would your insurance cover the cost to rebuild?
Don’t wait until a storm is threatening offshore to find out.
• If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have more than a vague idea about what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. The danger is that you may think you’re adequately protected when you are not. By some estimates, close to two-thirds of U.S. homes are under-insured.
• How does it happen? Sometimes people make home improvements without telling their insurance agents. Or, policy limits simply haven’t kept up with rapidly escalating building costs. Sometimes policies have special exclusions or restrictions that homeowners don’t realize are there.
• Florida law now mandates that insurance companies include an easy to understand coverage checklist with every homeowner’s insurance policy. Among other things, the list will show costs, coverage limits and exclusions. It will also detail how much the policyholder would receive [and for how long] if the home were destroyed.
• Your overall insurance limit is the first thing to check since that could come into play with a destructive storm. Ideally, you want a limit high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your house on the same site, not including the value of the land. If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender may require you to carry enough insurance to replace your home, but cannot require more than that even if your mortgage is for a higher mount.
• If your limit looks too low, ask your insurance agent to evaluate your situation. The market value of your home might be twice the limit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the limit is wrong. Property values are changing rapidly and it can be very difficult to separate the replacement cost of the building from the cost of the land.
• If you disagree with the agent’s estimation of replacement value, you can get a second opinion. There are valuation sites such as http://www.accucoverage.com or http://www.bluebook.net/products/insure-to-value, where (for a nominal fee) you can obtain an online report. If you have an expensive home, with many custom features, it may be worthwhile to pay for a professional appraisal.
• You’ll also want to review your policy’s limitations and exclusions. Peripheral structures such as pool sheds, detached garages, pool screens, and fences may not be covered at all.
• Your policy also may limit or exclude coverage for items such as boats, cars, aircraft, cash, guns, silverware, jewelry, furs, antiques, electronics, business equipment and records. If you want adequate coverage for those items, you’ll probably need to buy extra coverage or a separate policy.
• The biggest exclusion in homeowner policies is flood damage, which has been a huge issue for homeowners in Louisiana and Mississippi whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Even if wind drives the waves, homeowner policies won’t cover flood damage.
• If you live in a flood hazard zone, your mortgage lender will require flood insurance. If you own your home free and clear, or you live outside the hazard zone, flood coverage is optional, but flooding is still a real risk. Many homes flooded during Katrina were not in hazard zones.
• Something called “law and ordinance” coverage is optional for everyone, but without it, your policy won’t pay the extra cost of rebuilding to meet current building codes.
• A safer way to save money is to increase your deductible, particularly for non-hurricane coverage. If you’re still at $500, raising it to $1,000 is a good idea. If you’ve got an expensive house, you might want to opt for $2,000 or higher. The hurricane deductible – most likely 2 percent of the insured value – can also can be increased if you could afford to pay more out of pocket for storm damage.
• The best way to prepare for higher deductibles is to maintain an emergency reserve in a bank or credit union account or a money-market fund. Savings bonds less than a year old can also function as an emergency fund since they can be cashed at any time.
Keep vital documents close at hand. If you have to evacuate, you’ll want to take necessary and hard-to-replace documents.
Here’s a list of what should be in a waterproof, lockable container you can easily grab.
Checkbook, savings account
Safe deposit box key
Birth, death and marriage
certificates, divorce decree
Will and power of attorney
Social Security card and records
Medical records (living will, health care surrogacy, etc.)
Health insurance cards
Retirement account records
Recent pay stubs, in case you have to document employment to collect benefits
Car titles and registrations
Mortgage deeds or rental agreements
Warranties and receipts
Passports, green cards
Food stamps, WIC or other benefit cards and paperwork
List of important phone numbers (relatives, bank and insurance company)
Device on which you back up computer files just before you shut down the computer and evacuate Home inventory (on paper, device or video; you should keep another copy in a safe place)
A few family photographs or other memorabilia
Preparation for YOUR pet
• Start by having your pet micro-chipped so it can be identified and reunited with you if you are separated. A collar with tags can be lost during a storm.
• Get your pet acclimated to a locking crate or carrier. If your pet connects the carrier only with an unwelcome trip to the vet, put the carrier out now and put some treats in it so your pet becomes familiar with it and is less resistant to entering the carrier on hurricane day.
• On storm day, keep your pet in the carrier with a towel draped over it to create a secure, den-like place. It will provide a comforting atmosphere for pets, who often sense that something is wrong before humans do.
• A frightened pet may bolt for its secret hiding place. If you decide abruptly that you need to evacuate, you may not have time to search the house for your pet.
• Keep a small pet in the carrier when you get into the car. Wind, rain, or flying debris may cause you to drop a pet you’re carrying, and it may run away.
• Don’t leave your pet behind alone; imagine what it must go through.
• One of the lessons of Katrina is that an evacuation may last far longer than you expect when you leave. You may think you’ll be gone only overnight. You could be gone for days or weeks.
• Katrina underscored the need for shelters that accept pets, however, such shelters are hard to find.
• Most public shelters will not accept pets. A few offer a pet-friendly shelter. Call the shelter in your area, and plan ahead of time.
• Some hotels relax their no-pet rules during disasters.
• Visit http://www.petswelcome.com or http://www.floridapets.net for lists of pet-friendly lodgings.
• Your vet or kennel may offer accommodations during hurricanes. Now is the time to find out what’s available.
• Before the storm, take a picture of your pet alone and one of you with your pet. If your pet should be lost, the photo will be useful in making fliers and describing your pet to animal shelter workers. The picture of you with your pet will help reassure workers that the pet you say is yours really belongs to you.
• Be attentive to your pet even after the storm blows through. Streets and yards may be full of debris. Nails, broken glass, splinters and other objects can injure a pet. Fences that kept a pet in place may be blown down. Don’t let your pet walk through puddles or play in creeks or gutters. The water may be energized by downed power lines or contaminated with oil, gas or sewage. The current may be swift enough to knock down and drown an animal.
• It’s easy for animals to become disoriented, and there will be lots of unusual smells and things to explore that may be hazardous. Wild animals displaced by the storm may wander into residential areas: anything from raccoons and snakes to fire ants. Keep your pet away from them.
RED CROSS – Seniors / Special needs General CHECKLIST
• Assemble a disaster supply kit.
• Arrange for someone to check on you.
• Plan and practice the best escape routes from your home.
• Plan for transportation if you need to evacuate to a Red Cross shelter.
• Find the safe place in your home for each type of emergency.
• Have a plan to signal the need for help.
• Post emergency phone numbers near the phone.
• If you have home health care service, plan ahead with your agency for emergency procedures.
• Teach those who may need to assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment.
• Have emergency supplies packed and ready in one place before disaster strikes.
You should assemble enough supplies to last at least three days
• Assemble the supplies you would need in an evacuation, both medical and general supplies.
• Store them in an easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or duffel bag.
• Be sure your bag has an ID tag.
• Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers that you would need.
For your medical needs
• First aid kit
• Prescription medicines: list of medications including dosage, list of any allergies
• Extra eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries
• Extra wheelchair batteries and oxygen
• List of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers
• Medical insurance and medicare cards
• List of doctors, and emergency contacts
• Other needed items
General Em ergency Supplies
• Battery-powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries for each
• Change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes
• Blanket or sleeping bag
• Extra set of keys
• Cash, credit cards and change for pay phones.
• Personal hygiene supplies
• Phone numbers for local and non-local relatives or friends (in case you are injured)
• Insurance agent’s name and number
food and water Em ergency Supplies
• Recommended water supply is one gallon per day per person. Remember, plan for at least 3 days. Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers that you are able to handle. Identify the storage date and replace every 6 months.
• Non-perishable food supplies including any special foods you require. Choose foods that are easy to store and carry, nutritious and ready to eat. Be sure to rotate them regularly.
• Include a manual can-opener you are able to use.
• Remember, non-perishable food for all pets.
Going to a shelter may be necessary
Red Cross shelter may be opened if:
• A disaster affects a large number of people.
• The emergency is expected to last several days.
Be prepared to go to a shelter if:
• Your area is without electrical power
• There is a chemical emergency affecting your area • Flood water is rising
• Your home has been severely damaged
• Police or other local officials tell you to evacuate
Services provided at a Red Cross shelter:
• Food • Temporary Shelter • Basic First Aid
To learn about Red Cross shelters serving your area:
• Listen to your battery-powered radio
• Check your local Red Cross Chapter (emergency services provided are free of charge)
If You Need To Evacuate
• Coordinate with your home care provider for evacuation procedures.
• Try to carpool, if possible.
• If you must have assistance for special transportation, call your local officials or 211.
• Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes.
• Take your Disaster Supplies Kit.
• Lock all windows and doors in your home.
• Use the travel routes specified or special assistance provided by the local officials. Don’t take any short cuts, since they may be unsafe.
• Notify shelter authorities of any need you may have. They will do their best to accommodate you and make you comfortable.
If you are sure you have enough time…
• Shut off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so and if you know how. Gas must be turned back on by a professional.
• Let others know when you leave and where you are going.
• Make arrangements for pets; animals other than working animals may not be allowed in public shelters.
Contact your Office of Emergency Managers (OEM) to register for a special needs shelter.
CHECKLIST SPECIAL NEEDS
If you’re not able to function without assistance, you need to make some plans where that kind of support is available.
For a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a disruption of routine or an evacuation to a shelter can be extremely stressful. The newsletter of the Alzheimer’s Family Organization offers these tips:
Make sure someone outside the storm area has the patient’s identification, medical and contact information. Make sure the patient has identification. The AFO offers Wanderer’s Identification bracelets and necklaces in case the patient becomes lost or separated from a caregiver. Contact the AFO toll-free 1-888-496-8004 for information. If you choose not to evacuate,
prepare a hurricane kit with at least a two-week supply of medication, a list of dosages and instructions, first aid supplies and important phone numbers. If a caregiver decides to remain at home, it is important that the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia has enough activities, especially if the power goes out. Plan to do things that will keep a patient calm
The constant surge of TV and radio reports are vital during emergencies. But the steady replays of storm images can be upsetting to someone who doesn’t understand that the same images are being repeated. People with dementia and
Alzheimer’s pick up on the vibes around them. If caregivers and others are calm and collected, they will be too.
On the Web
Go to http://www.agingcarefl.org and click on Aging Topics, then go to Disaster Preparedness. For Those With Special Needs for information on what to do before and after the storm. Go to elderaffairs.state.fl.us and click on Disaster Preparedness on the right side. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ Disaster Preparedness Guide for Elders contains information about various types of disasters.patient calm.
contact 5 / consumer tips
In the days before and after a hurricane, consumers must be more aware of people who want to rip them off. In these times, it’s difficult to focus on the various tasks that need to be handled. We have put together some quick tips to help aid consumers in making the right decision when disaster strikes.
In the wake of a natural disaster, essentials such as fuel, food, ice, generators, lanterns, lumber, lodging, etc. – may be in short supply. Charging exorbitant or excessive prices for these and other necessities following a disaster is not only unethical, it’s illegal. Under Sections 501.160 and 501.205 Florida Statutes, it is illegal to charge unconscionable prices for goods or services following a declared state of emergency. Individuals or businesses found guilty of price gouging could face fines up to $1,000 per violation, or up to a maximum of $25,000 per day. Report price gouging by calling the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 800 HELP-FLA (435-7352), or 866 966-7226, or request a Price Gouging Complaint Form be sent to you via mail.
• Know your contractor. A frequent problem after a disaster is a “fly-by-night” contractor who takes deposits before starting work or final payments before finishing. Ask for a list of recent customers and call them for references.
• Get at least three estimates. Be certain the estimates are itemized and are for the same work. Variations in the proposals should be noted.
• Beware of repair businesses or individuals who solicit door-to-door, arrive in unmarked vehicles, have a post office box or temporary address, claim they are from another county or state and are in the area solely to help disaster victims or offer to work for you only if you secure the necessary permits.
• If the repairs/alterations cost more than $2,500, file a Notice of Commencement with your local permitting office, and a notarized Release of Lien will ensure your home is not sold for monies not recouped by others that might not have been paid by the contractor. To obtain information about Florida’s Construction Lien Law, call the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850 487-1395.
• Check on the contractor’s address, license and complaint history by contacting the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation through its website located at http://www.myfloridalicense.com or via telephone at 850 487-1395, or contact your city or county building department. For further complaint information, call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 800 HELP-FLA (435-7352).
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Registration 800 621-FEMA (3362)
tdd : 800 462-7585
State of Florida Emergency Information 24-hour hotline (FEIL ) 800 342-3557
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Hotline 800 HELP-FLA (435-7352)
¡Español! 800 FL-AYUDA (352-9832)
State Volunteer and Donations Hotline 800 FL-HELP1 (354-3571)
Elder Affairs 800 96-ELDER (963-5337)
Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Claim Hotline 800 22-STORM (227-8676)
Agency for Workforce Innovation Unemployment Claims Emergency Hotline 800 204-2418
Salvation Army Donation Helpline 800 SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
Giving to Charity
Beware of people soliciting contributions on behalf of victims of a natural disaster. Ask the name of the organization they represent. Do not judge an organization solely on a name that sounds impressive. To check on a group’s registration or complaint history, call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 800 HELP-FLA (435-7352). Beware of pressure tactics. Reputable organizations won’t pressure you to give today; they will gladly accept your gift at a future date. Not all organizations soliciting are true charities eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Ask if donations are tax deductible. Verify the information with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Never give cash. Contribute by check payable to the organization, never to an individual’s name.
Have a written contract for your repairs and understand it before you sign it. A contract should include, the following:
• It should be specific about the work to be done and the exact type of materials to be used.
• The contract should show a beginning date and final completion date. If a penalty assessment is stated for failing to meet the completion date, the amount of the penalty should be stated and how it is to be assessed.
• The contract should specify the terms of payment.
• Any warranties or guarantees of workmanship and materials should be explicitly stated in the contract. Be sure of the duration and what is covered.
• If the contract is on a “cost plus” or hourly basis, get a written estimate and, if possible, a “ceiling” (maximum amount to be paid).
• The contract should specify that the contractor is to obtain all permits or variances, carries full insurance on all employees and subcontractors, releases you from all liens and provides for a proper clean up.
Some home improvement or repair contracts may be cancelled without penalty or obligation by idnight of the third business day after signing. They are:
• Those signed at a place other than the seller’s normal place of business, unless you requested the specific product or service.
• All door-to-door agreements, except for emergency home repairs.
• Those paid on an installment basis.
Credit and Finances
• If you are unable to pay your bills, contact your creditors and lending institutions and try to work out a payment schedule. Do not wait until they contact you for being delinquent on the payments.
• Contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit Counseling (NFCC) at 800 388-2227 for help in negotiating with creditors.
• If seeking a loan, shop around. Compare finance charges and interest rates for various lending institutions before signing a contract.
• Avoid doing business with anyone who, for an advanced fee, “guarantees” you a loan.
Giving to Charity
Beware of people soliciting contributions on behalf of victims of a natural disaster. Ask the name of the organization they represent. Do not judge an organization solely on a name that sounds impressive. To check on a group’s registration or complaint history, call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 800 HELP-FLA (435-7352).
Beware of pressure tactics. Reputable organizations won’t pressure you to give today; they will gladly accept your gift at a future date. Not all organizations soliciting are true charities eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Ask if donations are tax deductible. Verify the information with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Never give cash. Contribute by check payable to the organization, never to an individual’s name.
Generators / power outages
Powering up your generator
All generators operate differently, but these guidelines should work with most. • Check fuel level. If you must add fuel, be sure generator is cooled down. Do not overfill.
• Check the oil level and check the filter.
• Check voltage selector to make sure it matches the type of application you are connecting to. (CHOOSE BETWEEN ‘120-VOLTS AND ‘120-VOLT/240’)
• Move generator outside to well-ventilated area. Place on a firm, level surface.
• Connect a heavy duty, outdoor-rated power cord to generator, or connect appliances directly to generator.
• Turn generator’s circuit breaker off.
• Turn the power switch to the on position then pull the cord.
• Let generator warm up before turning the circuit breaker back on.
Some generators operate on unleaded gasoline. Others use diesel fuel. Five gallons of gas will power a 5,600-watt generator for about eight hours. One gallon of gas will power a 3,000-watt generator for about 3 1/2 hours.
You will also need multi-gallon, vented containers for storing gasoline (fill before storm comes), engine oil, an outdoor-rated extension cord and a carbon monoxide detector.
Caring for your generator
• Never overfill with gas.
• Do not use stale or contaminated gas.
• Avoid getting dirt or water on the generator.
• Turn fuel valve off when transporting or storing generator. This keeps fuel from diluting engine oil and damaging engine.
• When storing a generator for more than two months, drain fuel and/or add fuel conditioner to top it off, following directions on the label.
• Change oil regularly, according to your model’s manual.
• Change filter regularly, according to your model’s manual.
The risks (if you don’t do it right): carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, fire, and explosion.
• Never use wet hands to operate the generator.
• Never let water come in contact with the generator.
• Never run your generator in a garage because the carbon monoxide exhaust is toxic. Find a well-vented space, but be sure the generator isn’t positioned outside an open window or any intake vent. Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.
• Always turn the engine off before refueling and let the generator cool.
• Do not spill fuel. It can ignite.
• Store fuel and generator in a ventilated area and away from natural gas water heaters. Vapors can escape from closed cans and tanks, then travel to the pilot light and ignite.
• Never feed power from a portable generator into a wall outlet. This can kill linemen working to restore power. It also can damage your generator.
• Do not use power cords that are frayed. This can cause a fire. Be sure all prongs are intact and that the cord is outdoor-rated. The cord’s wattage or amps must not be smaller than the sum of the connected appliance loads.
CHECKLIST Power Outages
After the storm has passed, we may experience widespread power outages. For the safety of repair crews, power companies will not begin restoration efforts until wind speeds are under 35 miles per hour. Please be patient. Power suppliers will provide service restoration updates to NewsChannel 5 to keep everyone informed of their progress. Call your power company to report power lines that are sparking or any obviously unsafe electrical equipment. Encourage everyone to stay away from these hazards. Turn off circuit breakers before the power goes. Leave on one circuit breaker with a lamp on so you will know when the power has resumed.
RESTORING ELECTRICAL SERVICE
Repair crews work to return power to the facilities that serve the largest number of affected customers first. Priorities are not established by where your home is located geographically, your payment history, or how often you call. Crews focus on facilities that provide essential service to your community, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, and television or radio stations. Once major repairs have been made, work begins to restore smaller groups and individual customers.
Please read the instruction booklet that accompanies the generator that you’ve purchased. It will contain specific information for your make and model of generator. Never operate the generator indoors, neither in the home nor in the garage or carport. During operation, always position the generator outdoors and away from any open windows, doors, intake vents, or air conditioning unit air handlers to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home. Once a storm has passed and you are going to use your generator, find a well vented space outdoors, and secure it with a chain and padlock to an immovable structure such as a tree, fence, railing or pillar. Many generators are stolen due to high demand.
For more information go to http://www.wptv.com
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