By Liz Calvo
When people come to South Florida, they come for beautiful beaches and diverse cultures. Chances usually are that they do not foresee an onset of hurricanes in their future.
Still, hurricane season in Florida starts on June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. According to Sarasota Magazine, the most severe storms occur around Sept. 10 and in early October.
Before a hurricane
1. Develop an emergency plan. Write down emergency phone numbers--such as family members, local hospitals, and shelters--and keep them close for easy access. Locate the nearest shelter and different routes you can take to get there.
Pet owners should identify local shelters, pet-friendly hotels, or out-of-town relatives that can take care of their pet. Another option is to contact a local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodation to pet owners.
2. Prepare an emergency supply kit. This includes food, clean drinking water, first-aid supplies, power sources, like flashlights and extra batteries, and a fire extinguisher. You can also fill your sinks and bathtubs with water for washing in case you lose your water supply.
3. Gather important documentation, like medical documents, passports, and personal identification in case of evacuation.
4. Secure your home. This includes clearing your yard, so nothing blows around frantically, covering windows and doors with storm shutters or wood, and being ready to shut off your power if there is flooding. You should also check the battery in your carbon monoxide detector to avoid CO2 poisoning. Check out mayoclinic for information on how to do this.
5. Get your car ready by filling up the gas tank and putting an emergency kit in the trunk. Move any additional or unused cars into the garage or under a tarp.
During a hurricane
1. If you need to evacuate, grab your emergency supply kit and take only necessities with you—cell phone, chargers, medicine, identification, and cash. Be sure to unplug your appliances before you leave. If there is time, shut off your gas, electricity, and water. Visit OPB.org to learn how to do this.
While evacuating, be sure to follow the roads that emergency workers recommend, even if there is traffic. Other routes may be blocked or flooded.
2. If you need to stay home, keep your emergency supply kit in a place you can easily access it. Follow the news via radio or television for updates on the hurricane. Stay away from windows in case the glass shatters. Be ready to leave if authorities must emergency evacuate you.
Most importantly, stay inside. Even if it looks calm, wait until you hear or see an official message that the hurricane is over. Sometimes, the weather gets calm in the middle of a storm, but quickly gets bad again.
After a hurricane
1. Stay out of floodwater in case of hidden objects underwater, or in case the quality of the roads has weakened.
2. Do not use any electrical appliances that are wet, such as microwaves or toasters.
3. If the power is out, use flashlights instead of candles for illumination.
4. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by keeping your area ventilated.
5. Stay away from powerlines. Hurricanes can cause powerlines to weaken, creating exposure to strong electrical currents that can cause serious injury.