Hurricane Preparedness: Be Ready Before You Have To Be

On August 24, 1992, the eye of Hurricane Andrew made landfall at Elliot Key and soon after passed over the Miami, Florida, neighborhoods of Homestead, Florida City and Kendall, destroying them. Property damage in Florida reached $25.3 billion and left 160,000 homeless in Miami-Dade County forcing the meticulous review and overhaul of the Florida Building Code, home inspection practices and code enforcement.Though a record setting nine years have passed since Florida has experienced a hurricane that has made landfall (the last was Wilma in 2005), it is important to be proactive and prepare before a storm arrives. Florida natives or longtime residents that have experienced the trip to the grocery store or gas station upon the approach of a hurricane can appreciate that last minute preparation of your home is not a feasible option. The additional one million people that have moved to Florida since Wilma made landfall in 2005, many of which have not experienced a hurricane and are not familiar with the exercise in preparedness, have immense potential to be last minute competitors for goods and services when the next storm arrives. All Floridians’ safety depends on our timely preparation to protect our homes and families.

The 2015 hurricane season countdown is on. Be certain to give yourself ample time to make these fundamental preparations:

  • an evacuation plan for your family and pets. Please note that smoking, alcohol, firearms and pets are not allowed in storm shelters (service animals are allowed in all American Red Cross shelters). Locate where your local emergency shelters are by contacting your county’s government seat or via FEMA by texting SHELTER and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA); for example, SHELTER 01234 (standard phone carrier rates may apply).
  • an adequate water supply and minimum five to seven day canned food supply that requires no preparation. To decrease the cost of purchasing food items all at once and also to ensure freshness, buy canned goods that you like and usually eat on a rotating schedule through the year; using them December through May each year while replacing your stock January through May. Know how to make sure your food and water are safe to use after a storm.
  • a first aid kit that also contains all of your necessary prescription medications.
  • a toolkit that contains plenty of batteries, a battery-operated radio and flashlights. With overtaxed emergency services and potentially longer arrival times during or after a storm, candles should be avoided.

Hurricane preparedness is easy but becomes more and more challenging as a storm approaches. Local businesses become extremely busy, resources become scarce quickly and growing demand for them forces prices higher. Be ready before you have to be.

by Kate Donovan