Hurricane disaster preparedness is a way of life if you live in Florida. I moved to the sunshine state a little over ten years ago, and I guess you could say we've been pretty lucky on the weather front.
This is an update to when I posted about Hurricane Disaster Prep for Tropical Storm Erika in 2015.
In fact, moving from Maryland, many of my friends and family asked me if I was worried about hurricanes. I told them I was so glad to get away from the snow, ice and cold winters that I hadn't given it much thought.
Hurricane Disaster Preparedness
I'm glad it doesn't happen often but, once again, the weather report is not so great. Hurricane Dorian is in the Atlantic and moving pretty quickly toward Florida. We are not 100% sure where she will land. The forecast right now is for the east coast. I live 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.
Two years ago we were told to prepare for the worst. We had a voluntary evacuation from our county, but the shelter at the time was older than our home. Our home has major hurricane shutters and we have pets, so we decided it would be less traumatic all the way around to stay in our home.
Our fridge was stocked with lots of food (of course!) and friends who came over before the storm got worse, so I guess you could say we had a hurricane party.
I am not diminishing the fact that hurricane disaster prep is serious. It's just always good to know you have friends who have your back if something really goes wrong, and we have that in our community.
That storm ended up not hitting us, but did a lot of damage in the central Florida area. I saw that damage about two weeks after the storm hit, and there were huge trees down that still had not been removed.
There was just too much debris for the workers to handle it all. It took some time before that area was cleared of all the trees and other debris.
So Hurricane Dorian is on her way, and we're watching the forecast. The weather report said it is picking up strength, and will likely be a category 4 when it hits, wherever that may be. Now is the time to put these hurricane disaster prep tips into action.
I can tell you that the worst I've seen was with Tropical Storm Debby and I did not want to leave the house. It was crazy, with winds as high as 65 mph, but that is nothing compared to what this storm may bring.
With September being Disaster Preparedness Month, it's a good time to revisit what to do if hurricane disaster does strike, whether you are in Florida or other areas prone to storms - like Maryland!!
Hurricane Disaster Prep Tips
First, you need to be informed about potential emergencies and disasters where you live, work, or visit. Then, you can go about making a plan that fits you and your loved ones.
Know that You may be Evacuated
This is not the time to have to figure out where to go! Know where you are supposed to go and what your best evacuation route is AHEAD OF TIME! Yes, I was shouting there because getting caught in a hurricane in your car is NOT what you want to have to deal with.
Our evacuation was voluntary, and believe me, we thought seriously about our choice to stay. We investigated our options and decided to stay with our pets because our home was built to the most recent hurricane safety standards and we had sturdy shutters which we did put up.
The shutters take a LOT of time to put up and it is a lot of work! My husband's hands were cut up and bleeding. Wear good gloves! It's a great idea to partner with neighbors as it's not easy to do alone.
Get gas in your cars ahead of time. I got gas yesterday and the gas station was pretty busy even then. It will get worse as the storm gets closer, and people tend to wait until the last minute. Don't do that!
Make sure you have your ID with you! You may be required to show it to return to your neighborhood. It's not a bad idea if things begin to worsen to put your evacuation bag by the door.
This is for your protection. It's unfortunate that burglaries happen often during times like this, but they do. Authorities will be monitoring neighborhoods that have been evacuated.
Put together an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit is simply a collection of items you typically use and may need in case of an emergency. While each person’s abilities and needs vary, everyone can take steps to prepare for all types of emergencies.
By evaluating your own individual needs and making an emergency plan that ﬁts those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared. For example, if being without access to medications, help, or other services you need to maintain your health, safety, and independence for even a couple of hours or days could be devastating, you need to be prepared.
Preparing means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. (Right now I'm seeing suggestions of food and water for even longer as this is a slow-moving storm.)
Get the entire list of recommended supplies so you can be ready for any disaster.
Make a Communication Plan
Making a family emergency communication plan with your friends and family before a disaster occurs is important. How will you get in touch with each other? How will your family get to a safe place?
It's important to make a plan now so that you will know where to meet, how to find each other following a disaster, and how to communicate in an emergency that works for your family’s specific communication needs.
Disaster can strike so quickly. We are monitoring this hurricane, but tornados can come out of nowhere. I know because I drove in one a few years ago.
Check-in with Neighbors Who May Need Help
That neighbor down the street that you always wave to? She may not have anyone locally to help if disaster strikes.
Make a plan with anyone in your community who you think may need your assistance. Exchange phone numbers and be sure they are okay to be alone if the power goes out.
For a full list of help with making your plan, what you might need, and ideas to get you started, visit the Ready.Gov Make A Plan page. They have a huge list of resources, many of them are things you would probably never think you might need in a disaster situation.
Parents can even get the kids in on the disaster planning in a way they can relate. Disasters affect everyone. So it takes everyone – youth, parents and community members – to help prepare. Ready.Gov has some great resources to help get your kids involved!
By the way, for those with disabilities, take a seat at your community and local government- level planning tables so that when disaster does strike, you will be ready. Planning for emergencies and disasters with other people who have disabilities rather than planning for them will allow us to understand and address the needs of the whole community in a disaster. So important.
Now at least you're ready with information. Gather your family and get started on your emergency and disaster plan.
Be safe out there!