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hurricane prep

Are You Ready for Hurricane Season?

By Mike Spranger, PhD, Community Development Specialist, University of Florida IFAS Extension
Reviewed by Randy Cantrell, PhD, Housing & Community Development Specialist, University of Florida IFAS Extension
This post is in honor of National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Are you ready for this upcoming hurricane season? It begins June 1st and ends November 30th. National Hurricane Preparedness Week is the last week of May, and is a reminder that you and your family need to be prepared in the event a hurricane comes your way. By planning ahead and being prepared, you substantially lower your risk of property damage, injury, or death.

Don’t be complacent when you read that some hurricane experts are predicting a relatively quiet hurricane season. It only takes one hurricane to greatly affect your way of life. And for those of you living here in Florida, don’t get overconfident because it’s been nearly nine years since Florida was directly hit by a hurricane (Hurricane Wilma, in 2005).  Remember, Hurricane Andrew (1992) took place in a “quiet” year, and it was the third largest hurricane–a Category 5–to ever make landfall in the USA, causing $26.5 billion in damages to South Florida.

Research shows that in every kind of disaster, we go through three phases. First is Denial (This can’t be happening). Second is Deliberation (It’s happening–now what do I do?) Third is Decision (We are in danger, so it’s time to take action). Unfortunately, research also shows that when people spend too much time in the denial and deliberation phases, the risk of loss of life increases. Many individuals who did not survive the 9/11 tragedy or Hurricane Katrina became stuck in the denial or deliberation phases. So plan ahead to get you through the first two phases! Then you can act decisively.

What can you do? Here are a few tips.

1. Have an evacuation plan, and follow it. If plans include going to a shelter, know where they are located.

2. Make sure you gather your important papers, and take them with you. And, don’t forget cash. Credit and debit cards may not work.

3. If you decide to “ride it out,” make sure you have emergency supplies (water, food, medicine, first aid kit) that will last you at least three days.

4. Know your house; has it been reinforced to be more “hurricane proof?” Check now while the weather is good.

Want to learn more? The University of Florida has a number of excellent references that can help you be better prepared.

(Photo credit: Banner courtesy of http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/; public domain).

Further Reading

Hurricane Preparedness: Be Ready

Hurricanes at Ready.gov

 

References:

Ripley, Amanda. (2008). The unthinkable: Who survives when disaster strikes – and why. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Berns-Cadle, H., et al. (2013). Florida homeowners’ handbook to prepare for natural hazards. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida IFAS Extension.