Hurricane season begins in June and continues through November, with Florida is at risk every year.
UCF Professor Christopher Emrich, an expert in hazard science, social vulnerability, disaster recovery and community resiliency, has plenty of experience with hurricanes. He’s worked with FEMA and other federal agencies to identify vulnerabilities in communities affected by hurricanes and to develop resiliency strategies.
As part of UCF’s National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, Emrich conducts studies into planning for and responding to disasters.
Here he offers some do’s and don’t’s to help you get ready for hurricane season
- Get flood insurance. If you do not live in a flood zone the average cost is $660 a year for $250,000 worth of coverage. One inch of flood water can cause more than $25,000 in damage.
- Make sure you have enough supplies for seven days.
- Start preparing as early as possible. Pick up an extra gallon of water every time you go to the grocery store until you have 7 gallons per person — 1 gallon per day for seven days. Or buy a WaterBob or similar product that will turn your bathtub into a storage tank.
- Buy non-perishable foods that are full of protein, like peanut butter. Two tablespoons provide enough energy to get through a meal time during an emergency.
- Get 5-gallon buckets with fitted lids from Home Depot, Walmart or similar stores. These are great for storing electronics, batteries, chargers, important documents, medicines and food. Properly closing the lids on these buckets also allows them to float.
- Establish a designated shelter area where you’ll keep emergency supplies in your home so you’re not scrambling around to find them. Do not raid your supplies once you have them ready. You can use them and replenish after hurricane season.
- Make an evacuation plan. Make sure you and everyone in your family knows where to meet in case anyone gets separated. Talk through the plan often so everyone is on the same page. DO NOT wait until an evacuation order is issued to create a plan. Failure to plan = planned failure.
- Turn on emergency notifications on your mobile devices. Based on your location, new warning systems can send messages with weather updates, alerts and other useful information. These alerts can be more up-to-date than newscasts, so you should trust them for the most accurate information. Take shelter when instructed.
- Keep an emergency escape tool in each of your vehicles. This may come in handy for cutting seatbelts or breaking glass in an emergency.
- Check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or need extra help before, during and after emergencies.
- Don’t let your car’s gas tank get below half-full at any point during the summer.
- Don’t think you know more than weather experts. Instead, listen to trained emergency management officials, meteorologists and other leaders whose job it is to keep you informed and safe.
- Don’t bother taping up your windows because it doesn’t reduce the risk of them blowing out. This is especially true for people living apartments. Plus, it will only cause problems when removing the tape.
- Don’t drive through flooded streets, even if you’re very familiar with the street. A few inches of water can move a vehicle. Sinkholes may also develop on flooded roads and you won’t be able to see them.
In the event of a storm, UCF will provide communication with instructions on closures, depending on the weather conditions pre-and post-hurricanes. Our priority it to keep you safe. All students and employees automatically are signed up to receive these messages, and settings can be updated via myUCF. A parent, spouse or other secondary contact’s email address also can be added, allowing them to receive the updates.
In the meantime, here’s some information we hope you find useful to help you prepare at home.
Florida Hurricane Preparedness Tax Free Holiday: May 27-June 9
Floridians can purchase qualified hurricane preparedness related items such as batteries and generators and will not be required to pay sales tax. This year the holiday is earlier to encourage people to plan early. Click for a list of qualified items.
Families with special needs are encouraged to sign up with the Special Needs Registry, which is a part of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, to get information about resources in preparation and during a storm emergency.
Personalized disaster plans are critical and Ready.gov offers a step-by-step guide.
Communicating with children about disasters can help alleviate stress. This website offers tips, games and age specific information for families.
Planning for pets is also important. Floridadisaster.org offers advice for pet and livestock management.
Emergency kits can make all the difference for riding out a storm. Do you have all the items on this checklist?