Sarasota County’s Ed McCrane says to be informed, have a plan and have a disaster kit.
By Elizabeth Djinis
Posted May 21, 2017 at 11:37 PM Updated May 21, 2017 at 11:37 PM
When The Weather Channel’s senior hurricane specialist ranked regions in Florida based their vulnerability to hurricanes, he put the Tampa Bay area at the top of his list.
“Because of the density of the population and the inexperience of the population with hurricanes and just the raw threat of all the people living on islands with a long distance to go to evacuate,” said Bryan Norcross, who is well known for his coverage of 1992′s history making Hurricane Andrew.
Local emergency management officials hear it all the time: It has been years since Sarasota and Manatee counties have been directly hit by a hurricane. The last time Sarasota County experienced the eye of a hurricane was in 1944, when a cyclone hit with winds above 100 mph. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have moved to the area, many of whom have never witnessed a major hurricane.
“If we ever were to be hit, it would definitely be rough,” said Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane. “I don’t think anybody really realizes how serious it can be, so they need to never take these for granted. Every season is different, every storm is different.”
Local and state officials are gearing up for another six-month hurricane season, which starts June 1. Many of them gathered in West Palm Beach last week for more training at an annual state conference.
McCrane’s department holds preparedness seminars for various community groups upon request, and also produces a disaster planning guide each year, he added. But his three tips remain the same. He tells people to be informed, put together a disaster kit and have a plan. Across the board, emergency management officials emphasize that evacuation is significantly more difficult if residents only plan 72 hours in advance.
Sarasota County has 20 shelters, three of them special needs and all of them local schools. But local emergency management officials say staying with a friend or in a hotel is preferred to a shelter, where visitors may have to sleep on a classroom carpet, sleeping bags or cots brought from their homes.
“Shelters are a last resort,” McCrane said. “They’re not the Love Boat, they’re a life boat.”
Manatee County’s 25 shelters can house more than 32,000 people, according to Sharon Tarmon, one of the county’s emergency management officers. During Hurricane Matthew last year, the county opened up the shelters as a host community. While they housed more external visitors than locals, Tarmon did not know the exact number of people in Manatee County’s shelters during Matthew, which stayed just of Florida’s east coast.
One of the biggest problems Tarmon sees during the threat of any tropical storm is a disbelief among residents that the storm could be bad enough to warrant evacuation.
“Listen to authorities,” she said. “If we tell you to move, move. Don’t risk your life, don’t risk your family.”
Both Sarasota and Manatee counties updated their hurricane storm surge evacuation level maps this year. Tarmon and McCrane urged Manatee and Sarasota County residents to know their evacuation zone. Residents can type in their address and find their zones online for Sarasota County and Manatee County.
Preventing Wind Damage
If you live in Florida, then it is essential to have hurricane protection products on your home to prevent damage from rain and wind. Regular window screens cannot withstand the high winds and torrential rain from a hurricane, but you can install specialized hurricane protection screens instead. At Hurricane Safe Products in Sarasota, Fla., we install a variety of storm protection items, including hurricane panels, windows or screens.
Protection From Debris
Hurricane screens are made from a stronger metal mesh that permits air and sunlight to enter a home, but the items do not rip or disconnect from the exterior walls during a storm. Our hurricane screens have sturdy metal frames that we attach firmly to a window’s opening to protect the glass. With high-quality hurricane protection, flying debris such as broken glass and tree branches are less likely to enter your home.
Reduce Insurance Costs
After installing new storm protection devices on your home, make sure to contact your insurance agent for an evaluation of your policy. Not only will hurricane screens, panels and windows protect you and your home, but also, installing the devices can lead to a discount on your homeowner’s insurance.
Hurricane Shutters Will Prevent Moisture Damage Inside Your Home
Hurricane protection for your home is vital in Sarasota, Fla., to prevent damage from the heavy rains and high winds of a severe storm. At Hurricane Safe Products, we have an assortment of storm protection products such as high-impact windows and hurricane panels. In addition, we can install high-quality hurricane shutters. Many of our customers want an affordable hurricane protection product, and hurricane shutters cost less than high-impact glass windows. The installation of hurricane protection devices on homes is essential in Florida to prevent moisture damage inside a building.
A Hurricane Shutter Protects You From Flying Broken Window Glass
Hurricane shutters protect your home in Florida by being easy to attach to a building’s siding or existing window frames. When a storm is on its way, you can move the hurricane shutters over your windows and doors quickly to prevent breakage from high winds. If window glass breaks during a storm, it can cause property damage by cutting the drywall on the ceilings and walls. In addition, the broken glass can injure a building’s occupants by causing severe lacerations, but hurricane shutters will prevent broken windows on your home.
The most important of these products are hurricane panels on windows. Hurricane shutters protect your windows (which are not cheap themselves) from flying debris and extreme pressure shifts. More to the point, they are protecting everything behind it—including you—from flying shards of glass and intense water damage.
Hurricane shutters are not always that cheap, but they are excellent value, for three reasons. First and most obviously, they are protecting your other possessions, and the house itself, from storm damage. Secondly, if your Plan B was to slap on plywood every time a storm comes, the shutters are saving you a considerable amount of money there, too. But most importantly (and least obviously) Florida homeowners’ insurance policies generally give you a bonus for having hurricane shutters, so they pay for themselves even if the big storm never comes.
One of the most common and useful investments against hurricane-force winds would be our hurricane panels and screens. These items are:
- Easy to put into storage, like the calm portions of storm season and the “off-season” of December through May.
- Relatively inexpensive, allowing you to easily purchase enough to reinforce every window.
- Durable and resilient to the sort of winds commonly generated during a hurricane.
We also offer two varieties of clear paneling that are easily installed with little difficulty. Once installed, you do not need to worry about placing them before a storm, these panels do their job year-round.
- Lexan panels are “ultra-clear” and feature a corrugated construction.
- Flat panels can be shaped to order. Furthermore, they actually reject heat, which benefits consumers by insulating the home, preventing heat from escaping the house and making a modest dent in the energy costs of the home.
– Advisories will now be issued for potential tropical cyclones before the storms even form
– Storm surge watches and warnings will be issued
– Earliest reasonable arrival of storm force winds will be part of the forecast
– The cone of uncertainty is shrinking
– Advisory graphics have been improved
While the National Hurricane Center is doing all it can to help get better more complete warnings out in plenty of time to keep everyone safe, it is also up to each household to do their part for hurricane protection as well. Installing hurricane panels in advance of hurricane season is the best way to protect your property and your family. Panels, shutters, screens, and impact film protection can make a huge difference in your personal safety. In addition, many homeowner insurance policies recognize the importance of hurricane prevention measures and will give you a discount on your premiums to help compensate for the cost of instillation.
There are several improvements you can make to your home to provide hurricane protection that insurance companies recognize as valuable and offer discounts for.
– Panel shutters or hurricane-impact glass can protect your windows during hurricane-force winds.
– Other types of hurricane panels such as flat or corrugated panels can protect larger openings in your home such as doors.
– Screens offer a protection for larger openings, rounded glass, or other odd-shaped openings.
Make sure the improvements meet state and county building codes and any regulations by the Office of Insurance Regulation. Your insurance company might want to send an inspector to verify the improvements.
The initial investment to upgrade your home with hurricane safe products will be recovered over time by the discount your insurance company will offer. The better quality products that you use, the greater your discount might be.
Install Hurricane Panels
If you live in Florida, then you have insurance on your home or business to cover the damage from a hurricane’s strong winds and torrential rain. Many insurance companies will reduce your rates when you have specialized storm protection devices such as hurricane panels. At Hurricane Safe Products in Sarasota, Fla., we have the protective devices required for residential and commercial structures.
Fast Storm Protection
Hurricane protection devices are essential in Florida to protect a building’s interior from water and wind damage. Hurricane panels are made of durable materials and are designed to slide over a building’s windows and doorways to keep out the water from a storm. The devices are customized to fit properly over a building’s doors or windows, and you can slide the items over the openings quickly.
Request More Information About Hurricane Protection
After the technicians from Hurricane Safe Products install hurricane panels on your home or business, we can provide documentation for your insurance company to help you reduce your rates. With high-quality storm protection on a building, your insurance company knows that you are less likely to make a claim for repairs to a business or home.
Yes! Good hurricane protection doesn’t happen in the few hours just before the storm hits. Winter is a good time to evaluate your home or business for storm protection needs, decide which method best fits your building and budget, investigate the options, and determine whether you can do the work yourself or you should hire a contractor.
Hammering up plywood panels as the wind is already rising and the rain is falling is sure to leave gaps in your protection and damage your building. It won’t be much fun for you either! By reviewing your options now, you can choose methods that will not only protect your property but can also improve its energy efficiency. Clear Tek flat panels and impact windows, for example, both resist flying debris and also seal out heat and noise and make it harder for intruders to break in. Cheap hurricane panels bought and installed at the last minute won’t perform as well.
Don’t wait until hurricane season starts in June to start thinking about protecting your property. Save yourself stress! Call Hurricane Safe Products today and be prepared!
Having hurricane-mitigation improvements (like hurricane panels) protecting can save business owners on the cost to insure their businesses. Owning a business in an area that is vulnerable to direct or indirect impact of hurricanes means having to take these extra precautionary steps to ensure the safety of your business during inclement weather conditions. In Florida, when there is a hurricane, we know to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.