Are You Prepped for Hurricane Season?
By Victoria Figueiredo
Let’s just call 2017’s hurricane season what it was: a freakishly active and particularly scary year for most of the southeastern US. Irma posed a threat to Tampa Bay, which we all know is normally considered a safe zone in the storm hotspot that is Florida. Many people had knee-jerk reactions to that scare and got all their ducks in a row in case another big storm snuck up on them – did you?
Hurricane Season ’18 starts next Friday, June first, and if these past few days of solid downpour have been any indication, we’d better buckle up for some interesting weather patterns this summer and fall. New to the area? Confused about conflicting information you’ve heard over the years? Don’t despair! Here’s everything you need in order to be prepped, safe, and ready to split on the off chance we experience Hurricane Irma 2: Return of the Superstorm.
- Figure out your flood zone
Your first order of business may be pretty obvious, but if you’ve never weathered a storm on your own turf before you may not have thought about it – find out what flood zone you’re in. When evacuation orders start coming in, you can’t get out safely if you don’t know when you’re being called. Visit your county website to search for your zone and keep it written in a spot you can find easily if you need to remind yourself which zone you belong to.
- Get yourself a generator!
A generator may be something of an investment for a lot of families and homeowners, but they’re key when it comes to waiting out a storm in comfort. Nothing is worse than being trapped inside during a storm in the summertime. You’d think the rain would break the heat, but nine times out of ten it just makes the world feel like one huge warm bath. Gross when you’re not actively trying to soak your cares away. Save yourself from being caught without air conditioning when you need it the most and contact your local generator supplier or hardware store to pick out the right generator for your home. You have your pick of portable or fixed models, but always be sure you operate your generator at a safe distance from your home! Carbon monoxide poisoning is not a cute look. Pro-tip: get a jump on everyone else and pick out a generator before a storm comes up. Those things sell out quick once people start to worry!
- Get your emergency supplies ready.
If you’ve ever been through a hurricane, you know what you need to have. We’re talking enough bottled water for each member of your family to last at least three days, canned food, extra toilet paper, any important medical documents in a waterproof container or envelope, flashlights, a change of clothes, etc. Floridians have lucked out for the past few years when it comes to large-scale natural disasters, but that just means we’re overdue for a whopper of a storm. Be ready before you really need to be! Keep all your supplies in one spot, like a big plastic bin or crate to grab and go if it comes down to it. Some good news if you need to re-stock your hurricane essentials, Florida has a sales tax holiday every hurricane season to give you a little break on the cost of dealing with life in the sunshine state. This year’s tax-free week is June 1st through the 7th, so get shopping!
- Make arrangements for your pets and/or elderly and special needs family members.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait for a hurricane to develop before you can register your loved ones at the appropriate shelters! Look up your local shelter options and make sure you, your pets, or any family members with special needs have everything they need to be accepted and comfortable during their stay there. Take note of any supplies the shelters request for pets that may take advance notice to acquire, such as immunization records, a collar, microchip, rabies tags, medications, and a carrier. The same applies to relatives who need special medications, oxygen, and the like. Most important of all, don’t leave anyone behind out of fear they won’t be accepted at a shelter! The majority of hurricane shelters will accept you and your pets in an emergency, even if you haven’t pre-registered yourself or your furry companion.
- Gas up.
Once a hurricane is announced, gas stations become purge-like hellscapes with long lines, exasperated patrons, and limited supplies of fuel. Do yourself a favor and stay on top of your car’s gas needs! If you’re going into hurricane season with a spare container of gasoline in your possession, you’re a next-level preparedness expert. Not all of us want to go that far but do make sure you have at least a half tank of gas in your preferred vehicle at all time. Not only will this limit the amount of time you spend waiting in line at the gas station, it’ll give you enough time to get out of dodge if you’re forced to evacuate with little notice. Overkill? Maybe, but going the extra mile never hurt nobody.
- Stay calm!
Once a hurricane is announced, there is nothing you can do to stop it going wherever the wind pushes it. Do your best to stay calm, cool, and collected, and trust yourself to be ready for any contingency. Prep as much as you can, but don’t freak out, especially in front of pets and small children who may not understand what’s happening, or even what a hurricane is. Staying alert is always a great idea but dealing with the emotions of other people who are picking up on the waves of nervous energy coming off you will not make things easier! As always, we recommend keeping up with your local weather station’s updates, your city or county’s alerts, and any updates from trusted friends and family near or far. Keeping your wits about you will help you make rational decisions that will keep you and your loved ones safe.
For more in-depth information, visit your county’s Hurricane Preparedness site. It should have everything you need to know listed out for you, and maybe even some extra information specific to your area! Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!