June 1 is the official start of hurricane season and it lasts through Nov. 30. Anyone living in South Florida can expect to experience at least one hurricane in their lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether individuals will ride out the storm or evacuate, there are basic preparedness measures that everyone should take.
Florida residents should be aware that precautions aren’t just for the 6 months of hurricane season. Since records began being kept in 1851, there have been 89 off-season hurricanes. It’s impossible to determine what each hurricane season will bring, but the National Climate Change Assessment reported increased hurricane activity since 1970. Hurricanes can also cause damage hundreds of miles inland.
Watch or Warning?
Know the difference. A hurricane watch means a storm with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible. A warning means that hurricane-force winds are expected. Announcements are given at least 48 hours in advance on TV and radio.
Everyone should have their phone charged, a charging cord and/or a portable charger block. Make sure everyone has emergency phone numbers and contacts on their phone. Have an emergency kit stocked and ready for people and pets. Know where the nearest shelter is located and different routes if an evacuation is necessary.
Make arrangements for the elderly, disabled and pets. Take pets with you or identify a shelter, friend or relative, or pet hotel if you can’t take pets with you. Evacuate farm animals at the first sign of danger if possible. Fill up the vehicle to be used for evacuation with gas, park other vehicles in the garage, and place an emergency kit in the evacuation vehicle.
An emergency kit is essential for evacuation or riding out the storm at home. People and pets should have a minimum of 3 days’ worth of food and water. Make copies of documents ranging from driver’s licenses and passports to insurance policies and Social Security cards, save them to a thumb drive and place it in a waterproof container on a keyring or in the emergency kit. Have prescriptions refilled and packed in the emergency kit or go bag.
Home and Yard
Put up shutters or plywood to protect windows and doors, store lawn furniture, bikes, grills and similar items in the garage or a storage shed. Turn off the power if flooding occurs, there are downed lines or you need to evacuate. Keep trees trimmed and remove shallowly rooted trees to prevent them from falling on homes and power lines.