Complacency kills: Get ready for Hurricane Season 2019

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced their 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook on May 23.

They predicted nine to 15 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes – and, two to four that could become major hurricanes.

Hurricane Michael devastated communities in Florida’s Panhandle. (Courtesy of Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council)

That compares to Colorado State University’s hurricane research team’s forecast in April, which predicted 13 named storms, including five hurricanes and two which will become major hurricanes.

Remember: No matter what the experts predict — the bottom line is that it just takes one disaster to hit that is so destructive it will have devastating effects for years.

So, if you haven’t already done so, begin making your preparations now — and ramp them up, as the threat level increases.

Remember, as the old saying goes: “Better safe than sorry.”

To help you prepare for Hurricane Season 2019, we’ve put together some checklists. Look through them and use them to improve your personal preparations for the season, which officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Before a hurricane, protect your property:

  • Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed.
  • Clear out clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Store outdoor furniture, windchimes, garbage cans, decorations, potted plants and other items that could become projectiles in high winds.
  • If you have a boat, determine how and where to secure it.
  • Cover windows with pre-cut plywood or hurricane shutters.

Pasco County didn’t feel the full fury of Hurricane Irma’s wrath, but some other communities were less fortunate. (Courtesy of Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council)

Protect yourself

  • Assemble an emergency kit: Be sure it has enough food and water to last at least three days.

It should include 1 gallon of water per day per person for drinking and sanitation.

It also should include nonperishable foods that are easy to store and prepare, including protein bars, dried fruit, canned pastas, soups, canned tuna, peanut butter and jelly, crackers, raisins, beef jerky. (Be sure to include a can opener in your kit.)

  • Don’t forget the baby formula and baby food.
  • Pack paper cups and plates, plastic utensils, too.

Safety and sanitation

  • Your safety kit should include filter masks to protect your mouth and nose
  • Medications
  • A first aid kit
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • A battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)

Shelter

  • Have a sleeping bag for each family member.
  • Duct tape and heavyweight garbage bags or plastic sheeting (for shelter-in-place)
  • A wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)

Protect important family documents

  • Put valuable documents in a waterproof container and store it on a shelf, or take with you if you evacuate. Those documents should include bank account records, marriage certificates or divorce decrees, driver’s license, Social Security card, passport, titles, deeds, income tax information, trusts, wills and birth certificates.

Generators can keep things running when the power goes out, but be cautious when using them. If used improperly, they can kill. (Courtesy of The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute)

Prepare an emergency kit for your pet

  • Your kit should include: sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or a carrier; pet food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter, a litter pan; pet health records, current photos of your pets, in case they get lost; pet beds and toys.

Have a plan: Should you stay or should go?

  • Know your zone and be prepared to leave, if authorities tell you to do so. Particularly vulnerable areas include mobile homes, high-rise buildings, coastal areas, near rivers or inland waterways and land below sea level. No matter where you live, you should evacuate if you feel unsafe.
  • If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone, prepare an evacuation plan that includes transportation routes and destinations, and considers all family members and pets. Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route accept pets. Ask if no-pet policies can be waived in an emergency.
  • If you plan to shelter in place, notify out-of-area contacts of your decision to stay. Be sure you have assembled your emergency kit and have a safe place to stay in your home.
  • If you are staying in place, fill up bathtubs or buckets with water to use for cleaning and toilet flushing.
  • Stay informed. Listen to an NOAA weather radio, or regularly check local forecasts and news reports.
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank three-quarters full at all times and have cash on hand.

During the storm

  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace exterior doors. Take refuge in a small interior closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors.
  • Don’t be fooled by a lull in the storm. It could be the eye of the storm and the winds could resume.

It’s important to know if you live in an evacuation zone and, if you do, what route you will use if evacuation becomes necessary. Make a plan in advance. Can you stay with friends? Will you need a shelter that accepts pets? Do you have any special medical needs? (Courtesy of The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute)

After the hurricane passes

  • Stay aware of threats from flooding and tornadoes.
  • Do not drive into water when you can’t see the bottom of the road; avoid flooded areas.
  • Do not walk in standing water; it may contain contaminants, it might be deeper than it looks; it may have a strong undercurrent; or, it may be electrically charged with a downed wire.
  • Be careful about the foods you eat. If the power is out, your food may be spoiled.

If you have a cooler, be sure to have lots of ice and freezer packs to help foods stay cool longer.

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning: Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, tents, garage, vehicle or fireplace. Do not use gas-powered generators indoors or in a garage.
  • If you’re using a generator, be sure to give it plenty of room for ventilation. Place it outside and away from windows, doors and vents to prevent poisonous carbon monoxide from coming indoors.

If you have damage

  • Call an agent.
  • Take photos of the damage.
  • Make emergency repairs to avoid more damage and keep receipts for tarps, lumber, etc.
  • Keep alert to potential scams.

Published May 29, 2019

Comments

  1. Regarding pets and hotels in FL: it is law that during an emergency like a hurricane, ALL hotels MUST accept pets no matter what their regular policy is.

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