Here are more tips and sources of help:
• Take photos of your home and yard now to create a record of what they looked like before hurricane season. They'll be valuable in a "before and after" exhibit for your insurance company.
• The Institute for Business and Home Safety in Tampa offers a checklist of things homeowners can do in the off-season to make their homes more hurricane-proof.
At its Web site (www.disastersafety.org), the institute offers detailed instructions about how to strengthen your roof, garage door, entry doors and soffits, and provides other tips on hurricane preparation.
• The Florida Home Builders Association has posted on its Web site a model residential rebuilding contract, designed to help homeowners who sustain hurricane damage avoid unscrupulous contractors.
The Web site includes consumer warnings, a review of state lien law, contract instructions and the model contract. The contract can be used as is or modified to suit consumers' particular needs.
The Web site is www.fhba.com. Click on "Consumer Services," then on "Contracts." At the same site, also under "Consumer Services," you'll find information about hurricane prepartions for your home: roofs, exterior openings, fences and porches.
Remember . . .
• It may be raining after the hurricane threat has passed. Think about where you'll hang slickers, wet clothes and shoes; there may be a lot of them. In the garage? On a sheltered lanai?
• Have plenty of changes of dry socks and shoes. You'll want sturdy, closed-toe shoes for outdoor work. Don't wear slippery sandals or flip-flops while you operate a chain saw or move heavy debris.
Times readers in 2007 offered these suggestions:
• Run the dishwasher before the storm hits. If the power goes out you won't have a dishwasher full of foul-smelling dishes.
• Do the laundry right before the storm arrives so you have plenty of clean, dry clothes and aren't facing an avalanche of dirty clothes.
• Stock up on heavy-duty (2-mil thick or better), big garbage bags. If garbage disposers and dishwashers aren't working because the power is out, and trash collections are suspended, you'll be generating more garbage and trash that will hang around longer. Thicker bags are less likely to split open and will eliminate odors better than a thinner bag.
• Keep a good supply of paper towels on hand. If running water is unavailable, paper towels do a better job than cloth rags that you can't rinse and wring out.
• Clean the grill now and make sure you have plenty of charcoal and lighter fluid or a full tank of gas, matches, a cleaning brush and cooking tools.