Car Preparedness for Riding Through Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew is hitting the Caribbean hard this week, and it’s path toward South Florida is still unclear. Most recently, 145 mph winds were recorded, and predictions don’t project it to slow down much. So it’s time to buckle down and think about how to protect your car and home before the winds and rain come to South Florida. Flying debris and flooding from rain or the rise in the sea level are two common ways cars are damaged in hurricanes and tropical storms.
How to Protect Your Car
- Are you familiar with your car insurance coverage and if it would cover damages caused by a hurricane? If not, get in touch with your insurance agency about your policy’s storm coverage. You may want to look into comprehensive coverage or purchasing coverage for your car in the event of damage not related to a collision.
- Prior to the storm, take pictures of your car from all angles. Any damage that takes place needs to be documented, and if you have no proof that there wasn’t a branch through your windshield before, the insurance agency might not believe you.
- Fill up your gas tank. Anyone who has lived through the past hurricanes in Florida knows gas stations are always packed before and after a major storm, and it can take an hour just to get some. Be sure your tank is full so you can get to shelter and don’t have to wait in the pre- or post-storm lines.
- Check and replenish any and all fluids under the hood. This includes your oil and transmission fluid. Also make sure all of your tires have the proper tire pressure, including your spare. You do NOT want to get stranded because you ran over some debris and blew a tire.
- Should you cover your car windows in tape? We weren’t able to find any sources that said this was a good or bad idea for your car, so we don’t necessarily recommend it. Today, car windows are specially built to prevent shattering, which is the reason people used to tape the windows on a building. Furthermore, trying to get that tape off after the storm would be a real project!
- If you will be traveling before or after the storm, get an emergency kit full of “must-have items.” The kit should include an automotive tool kit, pocket knife, jumper cables, flashlight, blankets, can opener, first aid, battery-powered devices, and of course water and food reserves.
Alright, so now you have done a few things to prepare your car to drive after the storm. But there’s still more.
Beware of flood zones. If you live in an area that is open to flooding, consider moving to higher ground and bunking with family or friends who don’t live in a flood zone. Also, after the storm, do not drive through standing water, you never know how deep it is and you could flood your car.
Are there trees that could fall on your car? In Miami, there is a Miami Resident Vehicle Storage Program (MVP) where registered participants will have parking garages they can park in to store their vehicles. There are plenty of places around Fort Lauderdale for boat storage, but research is required for vehicle storage.
DON’T. It’s hard to say what strength winds are safe to drive in and what aren’t. Large cars can be knocked over if the wind is powerful enough, and any car can easily be controlled by high winds. Drive only if absolutely necessary, and if possible after the storm hits. Never during, and before is just as risky. When hurricanes near the coast, anything can change.
If on the road though, keep on the lookout for heavy traffic, drive slow, avoid flooded areas, and do not get out of the car if there is debris blowing around. Tragic stories of people walking into a puddle with hidden electrical wires have become abundant in South Florida following a hurricane or severe storm.
We hope some of these tips help you stay safe out there. Hope for the best but be ready for the worst, because Matthew could be the most powerful hurricane to hit South Florida in over 30 years.