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Hurricane SeasonThis year, Florida’s hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through November 30; however, hurricanes can occur before or after the official season. And our state is a prime target. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 40 percent of all U.S. hurricanes hit Florida, and 88 percent of major hurricane strikes have hit either Florida or Texas.

That means everyone who lives in Florida should develop and become familiar with a hurricane preparedness plan.

Before hurricane season begins.

You should become familiar with your community’s risk of exposure, as well as your own home’s vulnerability to high winds and flooding. That includes having adequate homeowner’s and flood insurance.

Have a plan to contact each other in the event your family is separated when disaster strikes. And don’t forget to have a plan for your pets, too. You can find a wealth of information at FEMA’s emergency preparedness site.

Make (and keep current) a list of emergency contacts, including:

  • Emergency management offices
  • County law enforcement, fire, and rescue
  • Local hospitals
  • Local American Red Cross
  • Local utilities
  • Local TV and radio stations
  • Your property insurance agent

Assemble a disaster supplies kit that includes water, food, medication, first aid, and numerous other essential items. The American Red Cross offers a thorough checklist, as does FEMA.

Protect your home by investing in permanent storm shutters or half-inch marine plywood pre-cut to fit your windows and doors. Identify a location to secure lawn furniture, trashcans, and gardening tools so they don’t get picked up by high winds.

Right before a hurricane hits.

Stay tuned to local news and NOAA radio.

Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking, and fill sinks and bathtubs for hand washing and flushing the toilet. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas, in case of evacuation. If you have time, move valuables and what furniture you can to the highest floor in your home.

Be prepared to evacuate quickly if instructed to do so. Familiarize yourself with FEMA’s evacuation guidelines and your community’s emergency shelters.

During the hurricane.

Stay indoors at all times if possible. If you are outside, don’t walk on beaches or along riverbanks. Avoid contact with floodwater, as it may be contaminated with sewage and dangerous debris, animals, or insects. Do not drive through standing water — just 12 inches can float a car and cause loss of control.

After it’s over.

Let friends and family know you’re all right by registering on the Safe and Well website. Finally, as anxious as you’ll be to return home, wait until authorities have declared your area to be safe.

Florida really is a pretty great place to live. Sun and surf, palm trees and the Keys. Just remember she also has a dangerous side, so keep yourself and your loved ones safe and secure by being prepared.

Here are some additional links you might find useful:

May 8, 2017