Hurricane season gets more active. Here's what to do before evacuating
Aug 20, 2023
As emerging tropical storms and once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes make headlines this week, Floridians are bracing themselves for the dreaded news of the likelihood in coming weeks of one headed in our direction.
After last year's Florida pummelling by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole, many are hoping for some kind of relief as we approach the historic peak of 2023's hurricane season. But just in case we do see some strong storms — don't wait until you absolutely have to before you prepare to evacuate.
Here's what you should do before heading out before a hurricane hits.
Tax-free hurricane supply shopping:Need to restock hurricane supplies? Florida's second tax-free holiday of 2023 is ahead
Ahead of the hurricane season, residents should be aware of the two kinds of hurricane alerts and how much time they have before the storm hits:
The National Weather Service reminds residents to review their insurance policies ahead of time to ensure that they have adequate coverage for their homes and personal property.
Before an emergency strikes, sit down with your family or close friends to come up with an evacuation plan. Experts at FEMA recommend figuring out how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency.
Once you have decided what will work best, keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster.
County-wide evacuation routes and zone maps are based on the most up-to-date regional evacuation studies and are intended for general reference by the Florida Department of Emergency Management. To locate the nearest shelter and different routes you can take to get there from their home, residents can visit their county's website or visit FloridaDisaster.org.
For pet owners, keep in mind that not every shelter is pet friendly. Have a plan ahead for your pets and locate a shelter that allows pets. Bring food and pet supplies, including proof of vaccination and a leash or travel crate.
For more information or to contact your local emergency management offices, here are the Emergency Management Program Managers throughout Florida:
According to FEMA's public service campaign website Ready.gov, a basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Along with physical supplies, write down emergency phone numbers and addresses for safekeeping in your emergency kit.
Still, need to get your kit together? The second of Florida's two 14-day sales tax holidays to help residents purchase hurricane supplies starts Saturday, Aug. 26, and ends Sept. 8.
Clear your yard ahead of time, making sure there’s nothing that could blow around during the storm and damage your home. Move items, such as bikes, lawn furniture, grills, propane tanks, and building material, inside or under a shelter. You can use sandbags if need be to help secure furniture and keep out potential floodwater.
Residents also want to cover up any windows and doors. You can use storm shutters or nail pieces of plywood to the outside window frames to protect your windows. This can also help keep you safe from pieces of shattered glass.
You should also move possessions to your highest floor for the best chance at keeping them safe. Photograph your property for insurance purposes.
In case you lose your water supply while you're gone, fill up clean water containers with drinking water. You can also fill up your sinks and bathtubs with water for washing.
If you have time while you're evaluating, turn off the gas, electricity, and water. To turn off the power, find your circuit breaker panel and set the main circuit switch to off.
To cut off the main water valve, walk around the perimeter of your house and you'll see a water meter mounted on the side of the house, then the water main valve below it, connected by a pipe. You might need to use a wrench to successfully turn the valve clockwise to shut off the water supply to your house.
Experts also advise unplugging any appliances as well in case of a power surge.
Ready.gov's experts stress the importance of having an emergency kit in your car as well as your home, complete with jumper cables, maps, and extra blankets. Once you're actually evacuating, you can grab your other emergency supply kit and only take what you really need with you, such as cell phones, chargers, medicines, and identification.
They also encourage having a mechanic check out your car before an emergency.
Overall, they highlight the following tips to make sure your car is in good shape ahead of evacuations:
Before you finally head and make your way on your evacuation route, check in on any elderly or disabled neighbors who might need extra assistance before a storm hits. See if anyone needs a ride or extra supplies.Tax-free hurricane supply shopping:hurricane watchhurricane warning