Hurricane season is here and although Floridians are well-versed in what to expect from a storm, we sometimes slip into the season without getting all of our proverbial ducks in a row. Add a pandemic into the mix and you’ll want to be as prepared as possible to mitigate any potential problems.
Hurricane season affects the Atlantic coast from June 1 to November 30, and though it usually ramps up later in the summer, there are plenty of ways to prepare in advance and save yourself the aggravation of a last-minute trip to Target for bottled water.
It is also important to understand your planning may be different this year in order to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Add masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning wipes to your list of supplies and pay attention to local guidance about evacuations and shelters as your designated shelter location may have changed. If evacuated, staying with family, friends, or at a hotel will reduce your chances of being exposed to COVID-19. The Red Cross also recommends getting vaccinated against COVID-19 to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.
- If you don’t have an emergency plan, you’re going to need one. This should include everything from your evacuation route to medical needs of your family. Visit ready.gov/plan for a breakdown of everything you should include with your plan, along with a template. Be sure to pack everything you may need, including medications and your homeowners/auto insurance policies, and make arrangements for your pets in the event that they cannot go with you.
- Inventory your belongings. In the event you have to file a homeowners insurance claim, you’ll need to submit the items that were damaged or destroyed. This can be done through a spreadsheet, and you can also take photos/videos to support the fact that you owned them in the first place. There are also several home inventory apps out there that can assist with this – just be sure to update them yearly.
- Shop for supplies. Pick up some extra cases of bottled water and batteries every couple of grocery store trips. Check on your battery-powered radios and lanterns every few months to ensure they don’t need replacing. You can also purchase a premade hurricane preparedness kit online and save yourself the hassle of shopping for supplies – don’t forget disposable masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning wipes! Keep your kit in an easy to access location and make sure others in your household know where it is. It is also a good idea to keep smaller kits at your workplace and in your car.
- Get on alert lists. Sign up for community alerts in your area, download the FEMA app to receive alerts from the National Weather service, and be aware of the Emergency Alert System.
- Take it seriously. The number of major hurricanes has increased over the past few decades. Even if you are in the cone of uncertainty, take precautions to secure your home and also offer assistance to neighbors who need it, while following social distancing recommendations.