No major hurricane has made landfall in the Sunshine State in nearly ten years and thousands of Florida homeowners are unaware of how to prepare for a major storm.
When a tropical storm or hurricane approaches Florida, local TV news stations fill their broadcasts with menacing hurricane animations and everyone starts buzzing about what will happen next. Now you are asking the question, “Do I need to evacuate?”
Should We Evacuate?
Not all major storms require an evacuation. Local county officials, looking out for residents’ safety, make evacuation orders. They take into account more information than what is generally available through news or the Internet. If a mandatory evacuation order is issued for your area, take caution and abide by the order immediately.
Emergency services, such as police and fire rescue, are often not available in an evacuation zone if conditions are too dangerous to drive on the roadways. You will likely want to evacuate if a member of your family may require emergency services during or immediately after a storm.
Also seriously consider evacuating if you live:
- In a mobile home or temporary structure (Neither is safe from hurricane-force winds);
- In a high-rise building;
- In a designated hurricane evacuation zone that has been called to evacuate;
- Near the coast, a river or an island waterway; or
- On a floodplain.
You can find out what evacuation zone you live in by visiting www.floridadisaster.org and selecting your county.
Preparing to Evacuate
Identify your nearest evacuation centers, when they will open, and if applicable, which allow pets. If you would prefer to evacuate elsewhere, consider creating a list of potential evacuation locations by reaching out to friends or family who live outside of Florida. Record names and contact information of all people willing to let you stay in their homes.
Designate a main location and a backup location to meet after the storm in the event your family gets separated during the evacuation. Also, designate someone to pack the car with all your supplies and another person to listen for evacuation orders and print out driving directions to your evacuation center or alternative destination.
Stay calm. Orders are usually given before danger strikes and evacuation centers need time to open. Listen to orders at least twice to determine evacuation locations and then print driving directions.
Prepare your house by unplugging appliances, turning off water at the main valve, and deactivating electricity at the breaker box.
Pack your vehicle and go to your designated evacuation spot or your backup location. While driving, turn on local radio in case of emergency alerts. Place children’s games and activities in an easily accessible location in case you get stuck in traffic.
If traveling to stay with friends or family, stick to evacuation routes until you are out of an evacuation area. Emergency professionals will be using the other roads.