Things that are a fact of life in Florida: snowbirds, political wrangling in Tallahassee, lousy drivers and hurricane season. It is that last item on the list that’s in the spotlight this week. After all, the Atlantic hurricane season begins on Monday, June 1.
As we enter storm season, many take comfort in knowing that, since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, southeast Florida has been relatively unscathed by Mother Nature. But this comfort is tempered by the gnawing knowledge that lingers in the back of our individual and collective minds: like mutual funds, past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes. And as Hurricane Preparedness Week 2015 draws to an end this Saturday, we would be remiss if we didn’t offer the same advice stressed by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC): be prepared.
Flooding, storm surges, even tornadoes can strike impacted areas. According to NOAA, since 1963, storm surge has caused nearly half of the hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Water, not wind, has accounted for nearly 90 percent of all tropical cyclone deaths in the U.S. during that time.
Should you stay or should you go? If the former, make sure your residence is secure, and stock up on essentials — water, non-perishable food items, batteries, flashlights, candles, matches and the like. A portable propane stove can also come in handy. In the event of a direct hit, there’s no guarantee when power will be restored.
If you are leaving, make a plan before the storm hits. If you need to evacuate, where will you go? Both Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Central high schools are American Red Cross shelters in our area. Have a pet? Make sure the shelter you are considering is pet-friendly. Just as vital: knowing when to go. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, many either chose not to leave or waited until traffic was so snarled that leaving was no longer an option. If you are going to leave the hurricane zone, leave early.
Keep a list of emergency numbers with you — and mark important numbers in your cell phone with ICE (In Case of Emergency) designations. Speaking of cell phones, it’s not a bad idea to download important hurricane-related applications, such as those of the Weather Channel (www.weather.com/apps) or the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/hurricane-app). And remember, when the power is out, it’s more difficult to keep those cell phones charged, so don’t rely solely on cellular technology.
Closely connected to the previously stated essentials is ensuring that you’re stocked on prescriptions. Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have what you need; if they are vital to your health, take care of refilling your prescriptions in advance. Again, if a storm hits, pharmacies may be closed. If not, there may be long wait times for refills.
For a complete list of recommended supplies, emergency numbers and more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the NHC web site at www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare.