Hurricane Irma is dominating the local news, and according to all projections, she will be pressing down on the entire state of Florida starting tomorrow. We are all gearing up for the worst case scenario, from the east coast all the way out west to Sarasota and Tampa. As we prepare for the storm, worries like wind damage, flooding, and/or water damage from rain are causing concern for many residents, and for good reason. These can be catastrophic to your home and your possessions, and can have far-reaching effects on your life if they get to your important paperwork and vital records. Central Florida is just as much at risk as our coastal neighbors for wind and water damage from this storm, and we are encouraging everyone we know to be prepared.
As you get ready for Hurricane Irma, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Protect Your Papers. Social security cards, birth certificates, deeds to your property and vehicle(s), important papers about legal issues (such as custody agreements and terms of a recent divorce or separation) and any financial documents should be kept as secure as possible. Consider scanning these documents onto a small, portable flash drive that can be kept on your person. Opt for a drive that is durable and, if possible, waterproof. Keep this on your keys, or anywhere that will be with you regardless of circumstances so you know you have backups of any paperwork in the event that your home and/or possessions are lost or damaged. If you want an off-site (and off-person) solution, look for well-encrypted, reputable third party storage options that offer online storage with optimum security features. They might cost a bit more than typical online storage, but it's worth it to keep your information safe from storms AND from hackers.
Carry Cash. If power goes down, stores will likely lose the ability to take any kind of digital payment such as mobile pay or credit/debit cards, if they're able to open at all. If you can, pull out cash before the storm hits, so you know you have a backup way to purchase emergency needs following the storm. A good rule of thumb is to have at least $200 in cash, but do what you can afford. Some cash is better than none at all!
Have Important Contact Numbers Stored Offsite. Many of us keep all our contact information, for everyone from our mom to our pool cleaning service, in our cell phone. If your phone was lost or damaged, would you remember all the numbers you need? If the answer is no, consider listing out all important contact names, numbers, and pertinent information and emailing them to yourself so you have them in an online storage format where you can access them from anywhere. Important numbers to include are family members, doctors, financial and insurance personnel (like your insurance advisor), and any other vital contacts.
We hope these tips help you feel more prepared for Irma, in addition to the stockpiling of water, food, batteries, and boarding up your homes. Newton Peach Marketing is right in the midst of this storm with you from our Winter Haven location, and we'll be here working alongside you after it's over. To all of our fellow Floridians, stay safe!