Florida living is known for year-round sunshine, warmth, and swaying palms, but an unfortunate downside is the yearly threat of hurricane season. However, we’ve put together a checklist of items so that you can make sure you’re ready long before the next storm hits!
Have a plan in place. Make sure you and your family have a plan in case you lose access to basic services such as power and water. The Florida Department of Emergency Management provides an interactive online tool, called Get a Plan!, which helps families and business stay prepared. You can also track the progress of a storm through the National Hurricane Center’s website, which provides the most up-to-date information on weather developments.
Make an emergency kit. It’s important to know what items are essential to your family’s needs in case of an emergency. The Florida Division of Emergency Management recommends that you maintain a well-stocked disaster supply kit to last you and your family for a minimum of seven days. While each individual or family’s kit differs based on personal needs, here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Water. For drinking, cooking, and sanitation purposes, we recommend one gallon of water daily per person for seven days.
- Food. Non-perishable items such as canned goods, juices, and snacks, being mindful of dietary restrictions and infants’ needs.
- Flashlight. Essential if the power goes out. Also, pack extra batteries.
- First Aid/Medicine. This is especially important for people with health issues, and we suggest keeping written medical instructions with you just in case.
- Cooking Supplies. Can openers, tools, and fuel are especially helpful.
- Clothing. Change of clothes suitable for change in the climate.
- Pillows/Blankets. Sleeping bags are also recommended for portability.
- Radio. Battery-operated radio to stay tuned to weather updates.
- Toiletries. Make sure you are stocked with toilet paper and towels.
- Cleaning Supplies. Garbage bags and moisture wipes are helpful.
- Cash/Documents. Banks and ATMs may not be open for days after a severe storm, so make sure you have some cash on hand. Other important documents include insurance and medical records, social security cards and passports.
- Pet Care Items. It is helpful to have proper pet identification, immunization records, food and water, a carrier, medications, a leash, and a photo of your pet.
Secure your home. Knowing how to secure your home in preparation for a storm is very helpful and can protect against damaging winds and storm surges. Here are a few suggestions for ways to prepare your home:
- Cover all windows with hurricane shutters or wood, and note that while tape can prevent the glass from shattering, it does not prevent the window from breaking.
- Secure your roof to the structure of your home using clips or straps, if possible.
- Make sure there are no large tree branches close to your windows, trim trees and shrubs, and clear out rain gutters.
- Reinforce your garage doors using wood or some other sturdy material.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, potted plants, garbage bins, décor, and anything else not securely tied down.
- Stay clear of windows if winds become strong during a storm, and secure and brace internal doors.
- Make sure your vehicles are secure in case of storm surges.
Have a place to stay. In case a situation arises where you need to leave your home, it is important to know of a nearby place of safety or shelter. While you may have friends and family that you can stay with during a storm, it is helpful to know of a local shelter just in case. The Florida Division of Emergency Management maintains a list of open shelters on their website. If you have a disability or special needs such as a medical condition, you should register with your local emergency management office.
Follow updates. It is important to stay connected during a severe weather emergency so that you can follow all the latest updates. The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) is a toll-free hotline that is activated to provide up-to-date information on emergency situations in the state of Florida. The SAIL hotline number is 1-800-342-3557. You can also monitor hurricanes using FEMA’s app which is available for mobile or follow social hashtags such as #HurricanePrep.
Now that you’re all prepared, it’s time to sit back, relax and keep enjoying that Florida sunshine. Fingers crossed for no hurricanes this season!