hurricane in florida
Hurricane WatchA Hurricane Watch means it is time to put the early stages of your hurricane plan into effect. Review checklists and plans with your family. Advise out of-area relatives or friends of your plans. Ask them to wait to hear from you after the storm and to spread the word to other relatives and friends. Consider your options. If an evacuation of your area is likely, do what is necessary before you leave. Fill your vehicle’s gas tanks. Inspect your home and yard for loose items. Listen to local radio and TV for information. Get window and door covering ready and fill sterile containers with drinking water. If you feel comfortable doing so, move ahead with your plans. Install window protection and evacuate early. When winds reach 40 mph, bridges may close and high profile vehicles such as RV’s and trailers will not be allowed on evacuation routes.
Hurricane WarningA Hurricane Warning means you should rush your plans to completion. Tropical storm force winds and heavy rain may begin to affect your area soon. If you live in a mobile or manufactured home or in an area threatened by rising water – evacuate. If you live in a site built home/condo and are not in a flood prone area, consider riding out the storm. If you decide to stay, look for alternatives. If part of the building is damaged, where will you go? What will you do if flooding is worse than expected? If you stay, there will come a time when you are “on your own”. Fire, law enforcement and ambulances will be unavailable once the winds reach 40 mph.
What is your plan of action?
Knowledge about hurricanes is not enough to protect you and your family. You must put this information to work. If you have questions about your situation and your plan, ask now! Don’t wait until the storm is nearly here, or it may be too late to get an answer! Review what you need to do to prepare and protect you, your family and your property. The following options will help you make the correct choice:
Option AStay at home. If your home can withstand the expected winds, is away from the coast and not in a flood prone area consider staying at home. Newer homes are constructed to withstand 110 mph winds. Homes built after March 1, 2002 must meet even more stringent wind requirements.
Option BStay with a relative or friend or in a hotel outside the evacuation area. If you expect to stay at someone else’s home or a hotel, make advance arrangements. If staying at a friend or relative’s home, be certain it is adequately prepared and is located in a safe area. Consider where you will go if the friend or relative is out of town.
Option CRelocate out of the area. Emergency Management officials have developed hurricane sheltering and evacuation policies. Officials will issue local statements to inform you of recommended evacuation routes. Because you may have to travel considerable distances on unfamiliar roads, include a current road map as a part of your disaster supply kit. Know where you are going and plan, not only the best route, but alternate routes also. If possible, leave early to avoid heavy traffic, possible flooding and high winds. If you wait until the Hurricane Warning to leave, you will find hotel rooms extremely scarce throughout Florida. If your household includes an ill or disabled person, check with their doctor for advice on needed accommodations.
Option DPublic shelters. A Public shelter should be your last option and used only if you have no other safe place to go. Local radio and television will announce which shelters will be open and opening times. Do not report to a shelter until it is open. Familiarize yourself and family with the locations and routes from your home to the shelters. Do not wait until the last minute, if an evacuation order is given, move quickly but without panic.
72-Hour Hurricane Preparedness KitEvery home should have a 72-Hour Disaster Survival kit. Ensure a minimum three-day (72 hours) supply for each person. Although hurricanes are our focus, other events could require evacuation. Brush fires, hazardous material spills, floods and tornados all have the potential to disrupt our daily activities. Here is a minimum suggested list of survival kit supplies.
- Canned or other non-perishable food
- Manual can-opener
- Drinking water – 1 gallon per person per day, (use sterile containers) other juices and soft drinks
- Baby needs; diapers, formula, etc.
- Personal medications and prescriptions
- First aid kit
- Battery operated television or radio and flashlight
- Extra batteries
- Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags or lawn chairs
- Sanitary supplies
- Cards, books, small games
- Road maps
- Wet and cold weather clothing
- Pet foods
Gather important documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, health records, mortgages, deeds, titles, financial documents) in one place, ready to take with you. Any documents you may need after a storm or flood should be gathered now and kept in a protected place.
Taking Shelter from the Storm
There is a substantial shelter space deficit throughout Southwest Florida. So, if you have a safe place to go, plan to use that location instead of a Public Shelter. But, if you have no safe place to go, shelters will be open. Here are some important points to remember if you choose to go to a public shelter: When you arrive, give your name and address to the shelter manager so you can be located, if necessary. If you leave the shelter, check out with the shelter manager. Accountability is important to your safety.
Shelters are not able to provide conveniences or luxuries. They are not hotels. Food and water will be available, but there may be a slight delay in initial service. If you want or need special food items, bring them with you. Bring your families’ disaster survival kit to ensure proper provisions. (Consult below for disaster kit supplies).
A shelter is a community. Rumors can become widespread and are often very disruptive. Listen to official information and refuse to pass on gossip. Be considerate of your neighbors and follow the instructions of the shelter staff. Volunteer to help whenever possible and be patient and cheerful. Your attitude can help the morale of the entire group. Several items are prohibited in shelters. Weapons and alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Also, pets are not allowed in regular shelters. The only animals allowed are documented service animals. Make prior arrangements to ensure your pet’s safety and care. Your county may have pet friendly shelters. Contact your local emergency management office for their location.
People with Special Needs
Some people cannot be accommodated in regular shelters because of special medical needs. Special Needs Shelters are available for these people. These shelters provide a higher level of medical support than regular public shelters, but they are not for everyone. You must preregister and have a caregiver to accompany you to use a Special Needs Shelter. Qualifications vary from county to county, but there are specific requirements and procedures to register as a Special Needs client. Consult your physician and local Emergency Management office to see if you qualify for Special Needs Shelter.