By Marcus Fernandez
Although early forecasts call for slightly below-average hurricane activity this year, the impact of a single, powerful storm can have devasting consequences. Regardless of what the experts predict, you need to prepare for Florida hurricane season. This season usually extends from June 1 through November 30.
This guide provides you with all of the information needed to get ready for what the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season has in store for Florida. State officials included a two-week sales tax holiday on disaster preparedness items as a reward for starting early to prepare for hurricanes, floods, and anything else that Mother Nature has in store for the Sunshine State this year.
Start early preparing for severe weather
Hurricanes, tropical storms, and severe weather are common occurrences throughout Florida. Hurricane season reaches its peak from the middle of August through the latter part of October. However, severe weather may strike at any time of the year, such as the recent widespread flooding that forced the closure of a major Florida airport and turned streets into impassable bodies of water, so it pays to be prepared.
Preparation before disaster strikes
By preparing early for hurricane season, you also equip yourself for potential weather-related disasters. The following are a few tips for keeping yourself and loved ones safe:
- Plan how to get out of the house in an emergency: Create a written emergency plan for your family to use in case of a hurricane, fire, or another disaster that includes identifying safe exits from different rooms and locations within your home. Once outside the house, have a designated location for all family members to meet.
- Plan evacuation routes: Maps showing evacuation zones and evacuation routes for residents of Hillsborough and other coastal counties are available through the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
- Keep your car ready: If a hurricane or other type of severe weather event is forecast, make certain that your car’s gas tank is full. Even if you do not have to evacuate, electric service may be interrupted. Pumps at gas stations may be inoperable.
- Shut off utility services at your home: Learn how to shut off the gas, electric, water, and other utilities, so you will know how to do so in case you must leave your home in advance of an approaching storm.
- Prepare your home: Take a walk around the outside of your home and trim tree branches that could cause damage by falling or being blown against it by high winds. Have hurricane shutters installed on your home or have pre-cut pieces of plywood available to install over each window on your home. Take note of any outdoor furniture or items that could potentially cause damage if blown around by high winds.
Prepare an emergency kit and stock it with necessities you’ll need in case of an emergency, including:
- Enough water and food to last for at least 72 hours, including enough food and water for your pets.
- Medications that you or members of your family take on a regular basis.
- Working flashlight with extra batteries.
- Battery-powered radio.
- First-aid kit.
Store vital documents in a readily accessible place for emergencies, e.g., insurance policies. Keep them in a waterproof container and take them with you in case you must evacuate.
What to do when a storm approaches?
Stay informed of potential weather events in your area by monitoring local news sources via TV, radio, or the internet. These outlets will provide updated information on the storm’s intensity, path, and current location. Monitoring news outlets will give you access to evacuation orders and other storm-related information issued by state and local officials.
Remain indoors during a storm, unless evacuation is mandatory or safety is a concern. The safest location within your home is an interior room on the ground floor away from any windows. A windowless closet with no outside walls provides maximum protection during severe storms.
What to do after the storm passes?
Resist the temptation to immediately run outside when it appears as though the severity of a hurricane has diminished. The storm may not be over, and you may be experiencing the eye of the hurricane. Instead, listen to local weather reports about the path of the storm to determine when it has left your location.
Be cautious of downed power lines and debris causing injury when venturing outdoors after a storm. Avoid driving during or immediately after a hurricane or severe storm.
Wet and flooded roads along with downed trees and other debris in your path make it dangerous to drive in a hurricane or immediately after a storm. Wait until the storm ends and flood waters recede before venturing out in your car.
Stay safe by preparing for the hurricane season
Early preparation in anticipation of the hurricane season is the best way to keep you and your family safe. When weather-related car accidents occur, contact a KFB Law personal injury attorney who provides legal advice and skilled representation to help you recover compensation from an at-fault party.