PREPAREDNESS WORKS

by Reg Buxton with assistance from Jim von Rinteln

I just returned from the 31st annual Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference, where this year’s theme was “Preparedness Works.” I guess I would add to that – if you actually prepare…

We have been experiencing a bit of a hurricane hiatus here in Southwest Florida over the last eleven years since Hurricane Wilma struck in 2005. I hope we go at least that long before our next tropical event, but this is the time of the year to not tempt Mother Nature.

Seasonal hurricane predictions and El Nino notwithstanding, now is the time to review your preparedness for this year’s hurricane season. Even if at the end of last year’s season everything was in order, the following steps are worth thinking about:

1. REVIEW, OR MAKE AN EMERGENCY PLAN. Actually, two plans, one for if you stay in your home and one for if you need to evacuate. The Collier County All Hazards Guide (AHG) is an excellent resource, which is designed to assist you in your preparedness. Additionally, the State of Florida has an on-line tool that will give you step-by-step assistance to prepare a plan (floridadisaster.org/get a plan)

2. CHECK YOUR INSURANCE – Homeowners or Renters  insurance doesn’t cover everything when you’re dealing with the effects of a hurricane. Separate wind and flood policies are generally required – check with your carrier to be sure of what is covered. Also, auto and boat policies may have special requirements regarding hurricanes, like removing them from evacuation areas.

3. CHECK YOUR HURRICANE SUPPLIES to make sure things like batteries and food have not expired, or gone camping with the kids… Remember, 3 – 5 days of everything you will need – don’t forget your pets.

4. KNOW HOW TO SECURE YOUR PROPERTY. In newer homes this can be as simple as making sure all the doors and windows are closed and locked, but if you have shutters and panels you need to check for serviceability and that you still have all of them. If you’re planning on using plywood, you might want to purchase it now and pre-cut it to save time. If you have a boat or other equipment that will need relocation or tying-down, it’s a good idea to practice it all once before you need to do it for real.

5. WHAT IF YOU HAVE TO EVACUATE? We hate to do it, but we live near the beach… Know where you want to go, how you’re going to get there and what you’re going to take with you – and  plan to leave early. Make sure your family knows where you are going and how to reach you when you get there.

6. WHAT TO DO AFTER THE STORM. Generally speaking, less if you do some preparation… But, with that said the hardest part of a hurricane event is cleaning up afterwards and getting things back to a semblance of normal. With good community/personal planning and preparation it can be a little less painful and time consuming. If you evacuate you may want to stay away until the power comes back on, otherwise things can be a bit like camping out in Florida in the middle of the summer – if you remain, remember safety first! For some after the storm considerations check out the guide.

I don’t know when the next storm will strike here, but I do know we’re a day closer to when it does. Please take some time to review your family’s preparedness and if you haven’t picked up a guide, it’s available on-line at: colliergov.net/home/showdocument?id=71413

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