FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. It only takes one major hurricane to bring devastation to a particular region, which is why time and preparation are key factors to protecting personal property and lives. Marcus Robinson, director of safety and chief fire official at Broward College, offers several helpful tips the community can put into practice before, during and after a storm.

In preparation for hurricane season, every family should develop an emergency communication plan, detailing designated out-of-state relatives or friends as a primary contact person. Cell phones and landlines often don’t work during and after a storm, so it is important for families to arrange a local point of contact in case family members are separated. Social media also serves as an important resource for providing updates to loved ones after a storm. 

As part of planning efforts, it is important to purchase insurance and photograph all expensive personal items. If this information is stored on a computer, though, the equipment should be protected by being covered and moved to a closet. As for paper documents or personal photographs, they should be placed in a portable plastic storage container so they are protected from the elements. They also should be easy to transport if an evacuation order is put into effect. If an evacuation is ordered, compliance is necessary. Do not hesitate. Leave as soon as possible to avoid traffic, flooded roads or washed-out bridges. Since not everything can be packed into a car or taken to a hotel, be sure to prioritize a pre-assembled hurricane kit as well as protective clothing. 

During a storm, it is important to remain indoors in an interior room away from windows. Remember, everything is calm when the eye of the storm passes overhead, but do not venture outside, as the second half of the storm will follow shortly.

Being cautious after a storm is just as important as before and during one. There are many dangers, including fire and carbon monoxide. Use caution when operating a generator by following all of the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines, and using the correct size and type of power cord to carry the electric load.