Because disasters, from floods and fires to hurricanes and tornadoes, and major household mishaps such as a burst pipe, electrical fire, or gas leak can strike without warning, it is critical for every South Florida home owner to red crossset up an emergency plan and create a list of things everybody in the household should know. Your safety plan could involve maintaining a list/map of emergency shut-off locations, information sources, and basic tools.  In addition, develop a list of emergency numbers and an escape plan for the family.

  • Some of the things you might do are standard homeowner things, like ensuring that you have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers (and knowing how to use them) and understanding how you would get out if there is a fire.
     
  • To get started on the actual family plan, sit down together and decide how you will contact each other, where you will go, and what you will need to do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supply kit or another safe place where each resident of your South Florida home can access it.  Visit FEMA”s Ready.gov website to download forms on which you can print all sorts of vital information.
     
  • If there were an emergency situation, could you quickly and efficiently turn off your electricity, water, and/or gas? Do you know where your emergency shutoffs are and how to use them? It could save you a lot of damage and money if water is cascading from a ceiling, electricity is arcing and sparking within your walls, or you smell a gas leak. Generally speaking, modern homes have a variety of safety shutoff devices for water, electricity, and gas and/or fuel oil (if present). For safety, each gas device is required to have an individual shutoff. You can save yourself untold damage and dollars if you know how to quickly locate and operate your emergency utility shutoffs.  Websites which have explicit directions (and illustrations) for locating and using these valves are Homehintsenews.com, and 757rentalhomes.comRemember, “righty-tighty” when turning!
     
  • Create an emergency kit for your South Florida home. Think in terms of food, water, medical supplies, light and communication sources, and tools.  Prepare an emergency pen for pets in the home that includes a 3-day supply of dry food and a large container of water. Remember to also prepare a kit in the event that you may need to evacuate; keep it in your car. 

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