As Hurricane Irma continues to churn towards the U.S. as a Category 4 storm, forecasters are becoming more and more certain that Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and other southern states will face heavy rain, flooding and high winds.
On Friday morning, Florida Governor Rick Scott urged more than 1 million residents in evacuation zones to flee the storm, and traffic in the central and northern part of the state has increased as people continue to get away.
But for those who plan on staying — or at least leaving their vehicle behind — here are some tips on what to do to protect your car:
- Before the hurricane hits, make sure you have documentation for your car. That includes registration and insurance documents, stored in a waterproof container like a zip-top plastic bag, but also photos of your car’s interior and exterior in the event you need to make an insurance claim for hurricane damage.
- If at all possible, make sure your car is topped off on gas or fully charged to be ready to go. After the storm passes, gas and electricity may be inaccessible for some time.
- Avoid driving if at all possible during and after the storm. If you must drive, exercise extreme caution. Avoid flooded roads at all costs and watch out for debris, downed power lines or weak bridges and roads.
- If you can, find a safe garage and park your vehicle there, in the upper levels if possible. If a garage is not an option, seek out a building that can partially shelter your vehicle from high winds. If that is not possible, at the very least seek out higher ground to park on to avoid flooding.
- If you must park outside, avoid leaving your vehicle under power lines or trees that could be knocked down by stormy gusts. Parking next to a wall or something solid can protect your car from wind that might blow objects at it, but anything that might fall or be knocked over is a hazard.