Floridian Nature

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Florida Nature: Hurricane Preparedness
Hurricane watches and warnings are issued by the National Hurricane Center when a hurricane gets close to land. A hurricane watch means that a hurricane is possible within 36 hours in a given area. A hurricane warning means that a hurricane is expected within 24 hours in a given area. Make sure you monitor the weather when a storm is nearby (a battery-powered radio is very useful, since power outages are common in a storm).

KNOW SOME OF THE DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH A STORM:
Flooding
Can occur from heavy rains, rivers, drainage ditches.
Storm Surge
Typically associated with the land falling hurricane. Depending on intensity of storm, storm surge can cover extremely large areas of coastline, as Katrina demonstrated. The storm surge typically causes the most deaths associated with a hurricane.
High Wind
Roof damage, falling trees, power lines, can demolish entire homes.
Tornadoes
Often occur with land falling hurricanes. Can cause tremendous wind type damage very far from the center of a hurricane in unexpected areas.  

Know what potential hazards may affect you or your home. One of the most important decisions you will have to make is "Should I Evacuate?" If you are asked to evacuate, you should do so without delay. Residents of coastal areas, low-lying flood prone areas and people living in manufactured homes will be the first ones who will face a mandatory evacuation. Most communities in Florida are classified into groups according to their potential risk. If you are new to the area, check to see if your neighborhood is a high risk for flooding or storm surge. Ask neighbors and county officials what your options will be and make a plan before the evacuation is ordered. During a hurricane watch make sure you are familiar with evacuation routes and decide your destination location, if you may need to evacuate. If possible, make arrangements to stay with a friend or relative.  Discuss with your intended host the details of your family evacuation plan as soon as possible! If you plan to stay at a hotel, make reservations as soon as possible. Hotels fill up quickly! If you are unable to stay with friends or family and no hotels/motels rooms are available, then as a last resort go to a shelter.  Remember, shelters are not designed for comfort and do not usually accept pet, so make plans ahead of time for your pets to have a safe place.  If you have special medical needs and don't think you'll be able to get to the shelter on your own, contact the county in advance to make prior arrangements. Have a plan ahead of time and make sure all family members know the plan!


Prepare your Home- Keep your home hurricane ready year round. Monitor trees and branches and keep them trimmed, especially branches hanging over your home or over electric wires. If you have hurricane shutters, make sure that you have all of the parts and have some extra screws & washers handy. If you don't, have a supply of plywood precut to fit your windows. Gather anything loose from your yard and store it in the garage (yard decorations become flying projectiles in a hurricane!). Large lawn furniture can be also be stored by putting it in your in ground swimming pool. Watch the news when a storm is approaching and protect your home when advised by local authorities. If you wait until the rain starts, it may be too late. If you have a generator be sure you know how to use it safely (many people end up burning down their home because they didn't use the generator correctly!), check to make sure it is working and you have a supply of fuel for it. Pick a safe room or closet, with no windows and strong interior walls, where your family may have to weather the storm and make sure your supplies are stored there.

Have a disaster supply kit
- Stock up on food and water. You should have enough non-perishable food and water in your home to last the family for at least a few weeks.(make up as much ice as you can and fill your bathtub up with water. Make sure you have a Battery operated and NOAA weather radio. You'll need to stock up on batteries (check your radio and flashlights for the proper sizes- C and D batteries go as fast as bottled water before a hurricane!), flashlights, rope, tarps, plastic bags, candles, bad-weather clothing and other essentials to help you through the aftermath of a bad storm. Make sure you have a full tank of gas. Be creative- a washing machine makes a great ice chest, fill it with ice and store drinks and perishable items in it! Place important documents in a waterproof container and store it in a safe place (if you evacuate be sure to bring it with you.). Make sure you have a first aid kit and basic medical supplies such as aspirin, Neosporin, band aids, anti-bacterial gel, bleach (you may need to add a teaspoon of bleach to your water after the storm), and any medications you are taking. If you have small children or pets make sure you have everything you need for them (diapers, small toys, leashes, dog food). Charge your cell phone fully and keep it close to you. Try and get a car charger and store it in a safe place. Have toiletries, pillows and blankets stored in you safe room. Even if your home suffers little or no damage you may be without electricity for a week or more!!  Hurricane Frances was only a tropical storm when it us, and we had no power for 8 Days!! Keep some cash on hand as well as a credit card. Have some basic tools stored in a safe area, if you have a chain saw, make sure it is working and have plenty of gas for it.

Check your Home Owners Insurance
-Make sure you bring a copy of your home owners insurance, along with phone numbers to reach your agent, with you if you evacuate. Carefully read your policy ahead of time and make sure your are properly covered! The National Flood Insurance Program makes federally backed flood insurance available to residents and business owners.

Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance
!  Do not make assumptions.  Check your policy. If you suffer damages from a hurricane, be sure to contact FEMA as soon as possible. You can contact them by phone: (800) 621-3362. or online http://www.disasterassistance.gov/daip_en.portal  for disaster relief.
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