Hurricane Irma is forecast to affect Florida, and Central Florida and Tampa homeowners can expect to begin feeling winds and impact as early as Saturday, Sept. 9.

While we are hoping for the best, it is best to prepare for the worst. Here are helpful links, resources and tips to weather the storm.

The #1 Most Important Tip – Be prepared, not panicked!

Preparing Your Home

  • Protect your windows
  • Trim trees and shrubs
    • If this is not already done and you do not have some way to dispose of the trimmings, skip this step – Cut tree limbs could become projectiles during the storm
  • Remove or secure outdoor items such as yard decorations, patio furniture, grills and garbage cans
  • Store important documents in waterproof containers
  • Turn the fridge and freezer to the coldest setting
  • Ensure your generator has fuel and is ready for use
  • Back up personal computers and devices in case of loss
    • Backing up files to the cloud (such as Dropbox or Google Drive) allows you to store files without an external hard drive
  • Take video of each room in your home as well as valuables, before the storm – All you need is your cell phone! Walk slowly through each room narrating an inventory. Upload it to the cloud so it’s available if you need it.

For more hurricane preparation tips and resources, visit our pages on Creating Your Florida Hurricane Checklist and How to Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane.

Hurricane Kit

For a basic kit checklist and additional resources, visit our page on Creating Your Florida Hurricane Checklist.

Hurricane “Hacks”

Here are some alternative solutions to bottled water and finding the supplies you need:

  • Bathroom facilities – Fill your bathtubs with water and use small buckets of water to flush toilets and wash hands
    • Note – Be careful to keep the bathroom door secure if you have pets or young children
  • Drinking water
    • As an alternative to buying bottled water, fill up clean, seal-able containers with tap water – Buckets, reusable water bottles, thermoses, etc.
    • Many local breweries are offering free filtered water when you bring your own containers to fill, and Grove Roots Brewing Co. in Winter Haven has announced they have clean water tanked and ready to share after the storm if there are municipal water issues
  • Batteries – Check “outside of the box” stores such as Dollar Tree, Best Buy, Party City, etc.
  • Ice – Fill gallon freezer bags with ice and have them stored in the freezer

Evacuation Planning

Officials recommend people who live in low-lying or flood-prone areas, live in mobile homes near the coast, or are traveling with young children, elderly, or persons with special needs should leave when a storm is approaching and before a general evacuation is recommended.

Before you hit the road, make sure you:

  • Have a destination
  • Are familiar with travel routes
  • Take your emergency supply kit – make sure to include supplies for pets!
  • Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car

Visit the ready.gov website for additional evacuation planning tips.

Evacuation Zones, Routes and Notices

Visit floridadisaster.org or your County’s Emergency Management website (linked above), or call the Florida Emergency Information Line at 1-800-342-3557 for up-to-date information.

Pet Resources

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay offers a comprehensive Animal Disaster Kit.

If evacuating, make sure you know which shelters are pet friendly (and bring the proper documentation such as proof of vaccinations, registration tags, a carrier and supplies), find a pet friendly hotel, boarding kennel, or have friends or family to shelter your pet.

Pet preparedness tips:

  • Have a supply kit for each animal
  • No matter what happens, do not leave your pet(s) alone if you evacuate
  • Be sure all pets are wearing a collar with ID and vaccination tags in case they get out
  • Pet water – Fill bowls and freeze; defrost for your pet as needed
  • Doggy tip from Florida Boxer Rescue – Place pieces of sod in a kiddie pool and put it in your garage so pup has a safe place to potty during the storm
    • Never let your dog out in the yard where he/she could get spooked or escape

Hurricane Shelters

For additional County shelters and information, visit floridadisaster.org.

Where to Fill Sandbags

For more information on what to do, where to go and how to plan for the hurricane season, visit www.FEMA.govwww.ready.gov/hurricane and www.floridadisaster.org.

We will continue to update this article with tips and resources, as preparing for the storm is the best way to keep your loved ones safe.

As a Central Florida home builder, we are also preparing for the safety of our staff members, homes, and communities. As such, our office hours will be limited in the coming days:

  • Highland Homes’ Model Centers will be CLOSED September 8 through 11. We plan to re-open at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 12.
  • The Highland Homes Corporate Office will be CLOSED on September 11. We plan to re-open on Tuesday, September 12.

Follow us on Facebook for additional updates and information. To learn more about our company, visit www.HighlandHomes.org.