A hurricane has enough force to crush a home; it can topple even a mighty oak tree. Hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year should never be taken for granted.  The time to prepare for a hurricane is upon us, especially, if you are a seasonal homeowner and will soon be leaving Southwest Florida for your return to your northern home.  DO NOT WAIT for a hurricane to start gathering strength out at sea before you start making preparations.  The time to act is now!  All too often people say “We have plenty of time” after all the National Weather Service gives us a ten-day advance warning that a storm is coming.  If you have never lived through a hurricane you should take heed to this sage advice; If you wait until ten days before the storm to arrange for someone to install your hurricane shutters you will find that every able person that installs hurricane shutters is already overwhelmed with requests for hurricane shutter installation from several weeks prior.

In 2017 Hurricane Irma was the first Category 5 to strike the Leeward Islands of SWFL on record. It was the ninth named storm of the season, fourth hurricane, second major hurricane and first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 hurricane season.  Its strongest winds were 142 mph when it hit Naples, FL and Fort Myers, FL received over 15.9 inches of rainfall. The death toll was 102 people, including 75 in Florida; 14 died in the Florida Keys alone.  Its coastal surges were 20 feet above normal tide levels.  Irma released over 7 trillion watts of energy.  That’s twice the amount of energy released by all bombs used in World War II.  2017 was the first year that two storms Category 4 or larger hit the U.S. Mainland in the same year.  Are you convinced?  DO NOT WAIT any longer to start preparing for the season!

Terms you should know and listen for

  • HURRICANE WARNING:  is issued when conditions may produce winds of 74 mph or greater and are expected within 36 hours.
  • HURRICANE WATCH:  is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
  • MAJOR HURRICANE is a storm with highest winds of 111 mph or higher.


The roof of your home is most vulnerable to damage from high winds.  Most new homes in SWFL are constructed to a vigorous code that will sustain most winds around 175 mph, but, our older homes are highly vulnerable.  If your home is not up to current building code have your roof inspected by a building professional to determine if reinforcement is required.

Installing storm shutters over all exposed window and other glass surfaces are one of the best and most effective ways to protect your home.  May sure to cover every window, door, sliders, and even skylights.  Many builders are now offering wind impact glass that can sustain 175 mph winds in new construction.  There are many types and designs of steel, plywood, accordion, slider, hand-cranked, retractable awnings, motorized rolling screens & shades, and motorized roller types.  In order to be effective, they had to first be installed and secured.  DO NOT WAIT until it is too late.

Most homes that have double-entry style doors usually have one door that acts as the entry door and the other door is usually secured by a pin or bolt that are not strong enough to withstand the brute force of Hurricane winds.  You should check you building supplier-retailer for bolts and pins that they would recommend or simply shutter over the doors.

If your garage door is not already strengthened with a reinforced kit you may want to consider adding a retro-fit kit to strengthen the door.  You should unplug appliances, especially television sets and turn off your electricity except for the refrigerator and TURN OFF YOUR MAIN WATER VALVE coming into your home.  Make sure to store all outdoor furniture and objects like toys, garden tools, grills and if you have a satellite dish you may want to consider removing it.  Should you have natural shut off the main valve and if you have propane tanks leave them outside after anchoring them securely.  If you have coconuts on your trees have the trees trimmed and remove the coconuts as they become flying missiles and a big danger.


The time to decide whether to evacuate is not in the days before a major hurricane.  Roadways become jammed and impassable.  Gasoline is scarce.  Airports cancel flight days before the storm.  MAKE YOUR PLAN NOW and stick to it. This will be one less thing that you will need to worry about the next time a hurricane comes your way.  Have a sound evacuation plan.


  • Consider purchasing flood insurance
  • You cannot change your coverages at the last minute
  • Check your deductible for wind damage
  • Take your insurance documents with you
  • Scan your insurance documents and email to a friend outside the threat zone
  • Make sure your coverage matches the value of your home
  • Understand what is covered and not covered
  • Understand what your responsibilities are to prevent and minimize damage
  • In the event of a loss are you covered at replacement value or cash value


  • One gallon of water per person per day
  • Additional water for food preparation and sanitation
  • Bags of Ice in coolers
  • Partially freeze plastic one-liter bottles and freeze; in the event of a power outage this will help keep the freezer cool and when it melts it becomes drinking water
  • Fill your tub with water
  • Family members with special needs need help prepping
  • List the important Document to take with your
  • Have a three day supply of food on hand
  • Have a medical kit available
  • You will need sanitation such as toilet paper, soap and liquid detergent
  • Household bleach, batteries, flashlights, lighter, 
  • Power generator and gas supply
  • Other miscellaneous tools
  • Stock up on propane for the grill, but securely store outdoors.
  • Fill your car gasoline tanks and fill approved storage cans

At Carefree Home Watch we review a complete pre-storm and post-storm procedure with each absentee owner.  We will make our best efforts to reach your property as soon as the all clear is issued by local authorities.  We will attempt to accurately assess the level of damage and document it with photographs as time permits.  If you have an interest in having a Home Watch company watch your seasonal property please call us for a free evaluation and quote.  Carefree Home Watch; Exceptional care when you’re not there.  Call now at 239-234-1847 or email at info@carefreehomewatch.com and visit our web site at www.Carefreehomewatch.com.