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Hurricanes 101

Image courtesy of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.

June 1 marked the beginning of Atlantic hurricane season, and it runs through November 30, 2016. As we put together this issue of The Bulletin, the earliest “C” storm (hurricane beginning with a letter C), Colin, is forming in the Atlantic Ocean. 

In May, NOAA predicted a near-normal season; however, The Weather Channel calls for the most active season since 2012. 

This article scratches only the surface of hurricane preparedness, and we encourage you to look at the “Additional Resources” section at the end for comprehensive information on the subject.

An Ounce of Prevention…
The best preparation is early preparation. The time to prepare is now.

Items to Always Have on Hand

  • Weather radio—You can lose electricity during a hurricane, so it’s best to get a battery-operated or hand-crank radio to keep abreast of local conditions.
  • Flashlight and batteries and/or flameless candles—Keep a supply of flameless candles and batteries on hand so you don’t have to light candles all over the house and risk a fire. Scatter them throughout the house.
  • Food and water—The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests at least three days’ worth of food and water. The American Red Cross suggests a three-day supply for evacuations and a two-week supply for the home. You will need a minimum of 1 gallon of water for every member of the household and more for pets.
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Whistle
  • First-aid kit
  • Dust masks
  • Wet towelettes and garbage bags for personal hygiene
  • Manual can opener
  • Solar charger for cell phones (nice to have)
  • Maps—Keep paper maps in your glove compartment in case the internet is down, which would render GPS useless. Identify several routes to inland safety and mark them with a yellow highlighter.
  • Medications—At least a seven-day supply; more is better.
  • Extra cash—ATMs could be inoperative.
  • Non-electronic entertainment items—cards, books, board games, etc.
  • Important contact information—Make a hard copy in case you can’t access electronic information, and put it in your wallet.

Early preparations

  • Review your home inventory (every year). Download a free app from KnowYourStuff.org. If you have to make an insurance claim, you don’t want to overlook anything. 
  • Determine where you’ll go if you need to evacuate. 
  • Top off your gas tank a couple of days before the hurricane reaches the area.
  • Pack a go bag. Because you live in a hurricane area, it’s a good idea to keep a go bag ready at all times.
  • Remember that homeowners insurance does not include flood damage. Flood insurance underwritten by FEMA is available as a separate policy from most large insurance companies.

Evacuations
It’s better to be ahead of the curve. Once mandatory evacuations are place, roads and highways turn into parking lots. Consider booking an inland hotel room early, or arranging to travel to the inland home of family or friends.

If you’ve decided to stay home, be ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice. Listen to local TV and/or radio as long as you have electricity. Then, switch to your hand-crank or solar weather radio for instructions.

When you hear the evacuation order, get to a safe location. Do not ignore mandatory evacuation orders.

The closest shelter is:

N. Fort Myers Academy of the Arts
1856 Arts Way
North Fort Myers, FL 33917

Map courtesy of Google maps.

Additional Resources:
FEMA’s How to Prepare for a Hurricane 

Ready.gov Hurricane preparedness site 

Hurricane Strong—Interactive site with videos and infographics