Hurricane season is upon us again. A calm decade from 2006-2016 lulled more than a few of us into complacency, but the last two years served as a harsh reminder of the need to be prepared. In 2017, Irma threatened to dethrone Andrew as the standard by which Florida hurricanes are judged before a late-in-the-game track shift lessened its blow. Then last year, Michael walloped the Panhandle as the first Category 5 to make landfall in Florida this century.
What will 2019 hold? No one knows. And if history is any indication, the preseason predictions are tantamount to rolling dice. So while we’re all hoping for the best, we need to prepare for the worst.
Here’s some Hurricane Preparedness 2019 information to keep your family safe this year:
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Stock Up on Food, Medication, and Supplies
Ready.gov recommends having enough food, medicine, and essential household items for three days. But if you saw the footage of New Orleans after Katrina, it’s hard to imagine three days was enough for many of the affected.
To be on the safe side, aim to have enough food, water and medication (don’t forget about your pets!) to cover two weeks of never leaving the house. It’s an extreme scenario, but hurricanes are extreme events, and you never know how they’ll play out.
Here are some inexpensive, healthy, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items to have on your shopping list:
- Canned tuna
- Canned vegetables
- Dry cereal
- Dried fruits
- Beef jerky
- Canned sardines
- Meal replacement powder
- Canned fruit
- Bottled water
Also, make sure you have these items on hand:
- Battery-operated radio
- First-aid supplies
Protect Your Important Documents
If the worst comes to pass and your home gets hit by a major hurricane, the last thing you want during the long, stressful recovery process is to have to replace your passports, your kids’ birth certificates, Social Security cards, and other important documents.
Consider getting a safe deposit box at the bank to store such items rather than keeping them at your home. Alternatively, you could create password-protected digital copies.
Protect Your Property
The day before a hurricane hits is not the time to be checking if your gutters and drains are decluttered, ensuring your plumbing is in working order, and researching hurricane shutters. If you’ve ever witnessed the scene at Home Depot or Lowe’s once meteorologists even hint of a possible hurricane, you should know that you want no part of it.
Take care of any property-related items that may become an issue during a hurricane now. If it is financially feasible, consider investing in retractable hurricane shutters so you’re not out there at the last minute trying to put them on.
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Know Your Evacuation Routes
This is especially key if you live in South Florida, where there are only a couple of major highways to lead you out of danger—highways that turn into parking lots when the nearly seven million residents of the tri-county area all decide they’d rather be somewhere else when a major storm hits.
Apps such as Waze can help you avoid the worst of the traffic. The problem is, everyone uses Waze now, meaning there’s going to be traffic no matter where the app routes you. Do some research ahead of time. Figure out where you’ll go if you need to evacuate and your different options for getting there.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Make it your standard practice to fill your gas tank the minute a hurricane becomes a possibility, even if it is still way out to sea and the track is unclear. You’re going to use that gas anyway, so why not be prepared? During the days that follow, keep topping your tank off. That way, if you end up evacuating, you won’t be one of those people waiting for hours in blocks-long gas lines and praying the station doesn’t run out before it’s your turn.
Listen to Evacuation Orders
If you live in an evacuation zone or are specifically ordered to leave, it shouldn’t even be a question or a decision—you need to evacuate right away.
While we’re all keeping our fingers crossed for a calm season this year, we should also take proactive steps to keep ourselves safe if our wish isn’t granted. Utilize the information in this Hurricane Preparedness 2019 guide to staying ready.