It’s Hurricane Season. Are You Ready?
June 1 marks the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season, and once again, Floridians need to brace themselves for the possibility of a dangerous storm.
With the entire state on alert all summer long, you’ll want to be proactive in securing your dry goods, bottled water and hardware supplies in advance. Plan and act now to make sure you have what you need to protect yourself and your family.
It is important to take the proper precautions both before and during a hurricane in order to ensure your safety. Now is the time to make your personal hurricane plan and prepare your disaster supply kit.
One of the best resources for creating a plan is the website www.floridadisaster.org, which is published by the State of Florida. Senior Voice America has recommended using this site in years past. If you created a plan there before, you can call it up and update it for 2012.
Don’t Play Weatherman
So, there you are, monitoring the hurricane tracking chart online or on television. You try to play weatherman and guess where the storm might really land, then you think of going shopping for a few emergency essentials.
Here’s a news flash: the reality is that you should prepare for the worst far in advance of an approaching storm. Get your supplies early, develop a family plan (that includes pets and elderly relatives) and share your plans with all involved.
Secure your family
- Develop a family emergency plan that includes pets and all dependents, including elderly relatives. Make sure that everyone in the family is aware of this plan.
- Assemble and maintain a disaster supply kit.
- Know your evacuation level at home. Check your local government Web site or call the Emergency Management Department for your county or city to find your evacuation level.
- Map out your family’s evacuation route and final destination in advance. Make sure to use the evacuation routes that are designated by the authorities.
- Instead of going to a shelter, try to make evacuation plans in advance with a family or relative who lives in a near-by area.
- If a storm is threatening your area, but you are not in an evacuation zone, allocate a windowless room in your home with no external doors to safely wait it out.
Seniors with Special Needs
If you have family members or neighbors who have special needs, preparing now is even more important. Having a safe place to go and the resources to get there are the first thing to think about.
If your plan includes evacuation, you’ll want to know the exact location of the shelter. If someone in your house has special needs, such as medical or mobility issues, you need to pre-register with local emergency management.
If your plan is to go farther inland and stay with friends or family, or in a hotel, be sure they have the resources to help with any special needs. Also, you will want to have your hurricane supplies packed and ready to load in your vehicle. If you are going to travel, you should get on the road as soon as you can — before the bad weather arrives.
Once you know where you will stay during a storm (your home, a shelter or out of the area), you’ll need to know what supplies to have on hand and create a plan for communicating.
Secure your home
- Make sure your home meets the building code standards for high winds.
- Installing impact-resistant shutters over windows and glass doors can greatly decrease the damage inflicted onto your home.
- Assess the landscaping surrounding your home. Trim any large bushes, and clear out any dead trees or loose branches. Instead of using rocks and gravel to decorate outside your home, try using soil or sand.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Secure all patio furniture and loose objects, preferably moving them into the garage.
Secure your belongings
- Review your insurance coverage today. Now is the time to make changes. Once a storm is threatening, you will have little success securing or changing home or flood policies.
- Important papers such as medical records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, pet vaccination records, all banking and credit records, insurance documents,
Passports and current photos of family and friends should be kept in a secure, waterproof box or safe.
- During hurricane season, it is important to always have your car’s gas tank at half full or higher. Gas pumps will not work if the electricity goes out, and many times gas stations will run out of gas as a hurricane threatens the area.
According to the American Red Cross, there are six main items you should include in your hurricane disaster kit:
1. Food — a three-day supply of non-perishable items
2. Water — store at least 1 gallon of water/per person/per day
3. First-aid supplies
4. Clothing and bedding — plenty of blankets and one change of clothing and shoes per person
5. Tools/Supplies — flashlight, batteries, cooler, portable radio, non-electric can opener, fire extinguisher, cash
6. Medications — make sure to have extra prescription medicines on hand (should be at least a two-week supply)
When a storm threatens
- Make sure your disaster kit is in your designated “safe room,” and that it is fully stocked.
- Any loose items outside of the home such as lawn furniture, trash cans and grills should be brought inside.
- If you are located on the first floor of an apartment or condo, or your home is prone to flooding, make sure to move important items as high as possible.
- Unplug unnecessary electrical items, and turn the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers as high as possible.
Tips for a safe evacuation
- Lock your home.
- Bring your disaster kit, contact numbers, and the water-proof box of important paperwork with you.
- Bring your pet and the necessary paperwork and tags.
- Turn off gas or propane; also shut off the water main.
- Get in touch with an out-of-town contact to inform them of your evacuation plans and location.
What about my pets?
When choosing a plan of action for hurricane evacuation this season, be sure to remember your pet. Having a pet plan in advance will help to ensure its safety during a storm if you are not able to keep your pet with you.
Pet Shelters: what to bring*
- Vaccination papers for Kennel Cough, Parvo, and Distemper
- Collar with an identification tag/rabies tag
- Pet carrier
- Pet food
- Food/water bowl
- Pet medications
- Contact information for the pet’s veterinarian
* Pet shelters operate on a first-come, first-serve basis; you should call in advance to confirm availability.
Category 1 Hurricane — winds 74-95 mph
Category 2 Hurricane — winds 96-110 mph
Category 3 Hurricane — winds 111-130 mph
Category 4 Hurricane — winds 131-155 mph
Category 5 Hurricane — winds 156 mph and up
How Concerned Should I Be? Important terms to Know.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch – Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area usually within 36 hours. Tune to local TV or radio for information.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning – Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area usually within 24 hours.
Tropical Depression – An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulations and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH or less.
Tropical Storm – An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 MPH.
Hurricane – An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulations and maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher.
Storm Surge –A dome of water pushed on shore by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50-1000 miles wide.