Like it or not, today, June 1, marks the official start of the 2016 hurricane season, but as we’ve seen, mother nature isn’t always reading the calendar.
The National Hurricane Center predicts a “normal” season, but what’s normal these days?South Florida hasn’t been hit since 2005 when Hurricane Wilma blew through. There have been numerous storms that have formed in the Atlantic, but none have made landfall in Florida.
The American Red Cross along with the National Weather Service and FEMA have made lists of steps people should take now to get ready for hurricane season. Hurricanes cause problems for people in coastal areas. But these storms can also cause damage hundreds of miles inland.
The FHP and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles are urging citizens to make sure law enforcement knows who to notify in an emergency situation by enrolling in Florida’s Emergency Contact Information (ECI) system.
Florida was the first state in the nation to implement the ECI program, giving millions of Floridians since 2006 security in knowing in the event of a hurricane, crash or other emergency someone would be notified. Anyone with a valid driver license or identification card can enter up to two contacts into the system’s secure database. The information can be accessed by law enforcement nationwide only during times of emergency. Individuals can register or update their designated contact information at no cost on the DHSMV website and in local driver license and tax collector offices.
What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before hurricane season begins on June 1. It is vital to understand your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind. Here is your checklist of things do do BEFORE hurricane seasons begins.
- Know your zone: Do you live near the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts? Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area by contacting your local government/emergency management office or by checking the evacuation site website.
- Write or review your Family Emergency Plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. Start at the Ready.Gov emergency plan webpage.
- Put Together an Emergency Supplies Kit: Put together a basic disaster supplies kit and consider storage locations for different situations. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.
- Review Your Home Owners Insurance: Review your insurance policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home.
- Understand NWS forecast products, especially the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.
- Download the NWS Hurricanes, Unleashing Nature’s Fury booklet for more information about hurricanes.
RED CROSS PREPARED
Thousands of trained Red Cross disaster workers all over the country are ready to respond if needed. The Red Cross stocks items like food, cots, blankets and other relief supplies in warehouses across the country – enough to support thousands of people needing shelter.
Through partnerships and a variety of methods, the Red Cross has the ability to serve a million meals a day if needed. Thousands of shelter locations are already identified and Red Cross emergency vehicles are ready to go into action.
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store at redcrossstore.org.
- Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
- Be informed. Learn about the community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets.
- People should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device. The content includes expert guidance on what to do before, during and after different emergencies or disasters from home fires to hurricanes. All Red Cross apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.
If someone already has a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date. If they already have an emergency plan for their household, they should talk about it again with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.