If you live in Miami, you’ll likely have already about Tropical Storm Bertha currently on a trajectory towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. While it seems Bertha won’t make landfall in South Florida, this has got us thinking about safety in case of one heading our way. Here are tips to consider when preparing your car for a hurricane:
Fill the gas tank. If your county loses power for days, it may be essential to drive to shelter or travel to obtain services. In good weather, that is an easy task, but when millions of other people also need a hotel, the distance you must drive can be considerable.
Check the tire pressure, including the spare tire. When it is time to go, you don’t want a simple flat tire to hold you back. If debris litters the streets, the chance of a tire puncture is much greater.
Pack a go-bag. It is highly recommended that each family member prepare a go-bag. Likewise, you should have a go-bag in the car, with cash, water, food, clothes, and other living essentials in case you have the need to bolt.
Maps. Have paper maps with you, including an evacuation route printed from your state government’s website. A GPS with traffic services can prove valuable, but of course, some traffic information may be compromised by power outages.
Car charger. A cell phone can provide a vital lifeline to friends, family, and emergency services. Should the neighborhood lose power, make sure you have a charger in the car to power up your phone.
Check the windows. It seems simple, but it is important. Make sure the windows and sunroof are all closed tight.
Take pictures. This goes for the car, as well as the house. Snap a few before pictures in case you need to prove damage was caused by the storm.
Park the vehicle on high ground, removing the risk of flooding.
Protect the garage. Consider parking your car outside, tight against the garage door—sideways—to block high-speed winds and hopefully preserve the door’s integrity. Should true hurricane-force winds break through the garage door, the storm can do serious structural damage. With an attached garage, that damage can quickly translate to the house.
Insurance paperwork. If possible, keep a copy of the car insurance paperwork in a Ziplock within your go bag.
Evacution. If you decide to drive away from the storm, before the harsh winds arrives, drive safely. Don’t speed, especially in the rain. The faster you drive, the greater the risk of hydroplaning—when water causes a vehicle’s tires to lift off the road surface. Stick to major roads and stay away from flooded areas and downed power lines.