7 stupid things we do during a hurricane that can get us killed

Hurricane Irma is a bad mother. But you’ve done your due diligence in the event Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Miami as a Category 4 or 5 storm on Sunday. You have your shutters up. You took in anything that could become a projectile in the winds. Your pantry is stocked.


Now don’t be a fool and get yourself hurt or killed doing stupid things during and after the storm. Here’s your lucky seven tips on getting through Irma intact.

hurr taping window

Put an X on taping your windows. It’s never a good idea and can make the windows more deadly should they break.


1. Don’t X the windows with tape

Are you still taping your windows? Do you drive with your blinkers on during the rain, too?

When you run tape over your windows you aren’t making them stronger. Rather, should they be pummeled by flying debris and still break, they will do so as larger, potentially deadly pieces, according to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Better to have a window break into small pieces that won’t cause potential great bodily harm. Plus, you’ll have cleanup to do anyway. Sun-baked tape on a window is a bear to remove.

2. Don’t crack open the windows to relieve pressure

Some people think it’s a good idea to crack open a window to relieve the pressure inside the house lest the dwelling explode from within. Given that all of our homes have little openings here and there it’s highly unlikely a hurricane will build up enough pressure inside to blow, according to Gizmodo.

If you willingly open a window to let the wicked wind in you’re not going to like the result when said wind tries to escape.

hurr boarding some windows

Boarding windows only on the water side? This is how you lose windows.

Jared Lazarus Miami Herald File

3. Water isn’t your only enemy — it’s the wind, too

When you scrimp on money, or personal energy, and only board or shutter the windows that face a body of water you’re making a mistake. Hurricanes move and rotate — as do the tornadoes they often spawn — so don’t assume the winds will come from one direction. Windows are most susceptible to the flying debris like rocks or the patio furniture your infuriating neighbor left out on his balcony. Board up and go all the way.

Related stories from Miami Herald

4. Don’t push back on a bowing door or window

Despite your best efforts, a powerful storm like Irma could lead to the surreal visual of your doors and windows bending to the pressure. They may or may not hold. But you aren’t going to help them by pushing back or leaning against them, no matter how much you weigh. If the doors or windows blow in, your flesh and blood is no match. And if you’re doing this, you probably taped your windows so read No. 1 again.

More: Everything you need to survive a storm

5. Use flashlights, not candles.

hurr candles

Candles, like these Princess Diana commemorative candles, are pretty but they are not as safe as flashlights during a power outage after a hurricane.

Frank Augstein AP

Sure, candles set a romantic mood — or foreboding if that’s your thing (been watching too much “Game of Thrones”). But candles tip or get knocked down and can start fires. Flashlights are much safer. And you did buy enough batteries, right?

6. Stay inside unless you must venture out

Yep, cabin fever has probably already set in as you walk around your shuttered home. But if you can stay in a little longer after Irma departs you’ll be better off. Downed trees and power lines can be dangerous if you blindly stumble into them. Drive only if you have to as roads without stop lights and strewn with debris, or under water, can be deadly.

hurr generator

Use generators properly and never run from inside the home or balcony.

David J. Phillip AP

7. Don’t run a generator if your windows are open.

Do not run a generator from inside your house or garage — even if you have the doors and windows open. Fire hazard. The same warning applies to running it from your balcony when you live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or town house. Balconies are too close to your own living areas and to your neighbors’ homes. And if you have a gas stove, keep the generator far from the kitchen or gas water heater or gas powered washer/dryers.

Also, never run a generator on grass or on a metal surface. Make sure the surface is dry before starting your generator, and keep your hands dry, too. And never connect the generator to your home’s wiring system, fuse box or circuit breaker unless you have already had a qualified electrician install a transfer switch. If not correctly connected, the power can flow outside the house to the power lines and fatally injure workers who are there trying to restore power to everyone.

Sources include: Gizmodo, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, FEMA.