Even though South Florida’s six month long hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, the rule of thumb is always be prepared. When you live on or near the Atlantic Ocean, severe storms, wind and flooding can occur at any time.
Preparedness Begins With A Written Evacuation Plan
You need a solid written plan in the event you are forced or choose to evacuate the area .The plan should include “safe havens” – homes of relatives or friends elsewhere in or outside the state or region where you can stay out of harms way. Be sure to have multiple locations and alternatives since hurricanes and severe weather can strike from north, south east or west. It also helps to know the locations of hurricane shelters in your area, and whether or not they accept pets.
Include in your plan a “packing list” of clothing, toiletries, diapers, baby food, medications, flashlights, extra batteries and other essentials you’ll need to take with you if your family evacuates. Plan on bringing a minimum of $300 cash in addition to your debit and credit cards in case card machines aren’t working or merchants won’t accept them.
Your plan should also include a list of emergency phone numbers and names and numbers of people you want to notify if you evacuate. Also bring 2 to 3 gallons of bottled water for every family member, as well as canned food and a manual can opener.
Make Home Preparation Weekend An Annual Event
Since hurricane season starts June 1st, make Memorial Day Weekend “Home Preparation”. Take time to check hurricane shutters, plywood panels and other home protection materials you use in the event of a storm. Start-up and service any generators you have and make sure they’re in perfect operating order. If you don’t have a generator or two, now is the time to buy a generator and gas cans … not the day before the storm when there may not any left. It’s also a good time to check your gas powered chain saws, since you may be needing them to clean up.
Check to make sure you have flashlights and battery-operated lamps … at least 1 for every room in your home, as well as several packs of spare batteries per light. Be sure to have a first aid kit. and tool box fully stocked and stored where you can easily find them if bad weather strikes and the power goes out.
Stock up on jugs of bottled drinking water … at least 3 gallons for each member of your family. While you’re shopping, stock up on canned meat such as corned beef and spam, as well as canned tuna, salmon and sardines, canned fruit, tea, coffee, dry or packaged milk, crackers, dry cereal and other food that requires minimal cooking or preparation. Don’t forget to have a manual can opener, as well as plenty of paper plates and plastic knives, forks and spoons to help minimize clean up. Outdoor grills can replace your indoor stove if power is lost,so be sure to have extra propane tanks and bags of charcoal on hand as well.
Making Memorial Day Weekend “Hurricane Preparation Weekend” an annual event helps assure you’ll be prepared each year well in advance of any major storms.
72 Hours Before The Hurricane Hits
Be sure to fill up gas cans for your generator 2 or 3 days before the storm strikes … and before the gas lines get long and prices go up. Keep the gas tanks of all family vehicles full before the storm too.
Don’t forget to keep your laptop computer batteries fully charged, since the internet will be a valuable source of information and entertainment. Make sure you have a car charger for your cell phones . A battery operated radio is another essential to have on hand during the hurricane season.
Home and auto insurance policies, car and home titles, art and jewelry appraisals and photos of all household valuables should be stored in a waterproof, fireproof box for safekeeping. You should take these documents with you if you evacuate your home.
The Devil Is In The Details
Having lived along the East Coast from New England to South Florida and survived dozens of hurricanes. tropical storms and nor’easters, I can testify to the importance of planning, preparation and the fact that details are important clearly impact how well you get through a hurricane or tropical storm.