When a catastrophic weather event hits the Florida coast, it’s all hands on deck as communities pull together to weather the storm and recover from the aftermath. Being prepared can make all of the difference in your experience of such an event. This blog series from The Wurzel Agency has been geared toward helping you think ahead and being ready for any eventuality, and today we’re looking at what you need to know, and pack in case of an evacuation order.
When Should You Evacuate?
While clearing out of coastal areas in the days leading up to the projected landfall of a big storm is mostly voluntary, an evacuation may be ordered by governing authorities as the storm nears the coastline and gathers force. In most cases, evacuation orders will be very specific, and pinpoint the region most likely to be severely affected by the oncoming storm. Stay tuned in to television reports, radio, and social media for your area so you know when an evacuation has been advised and you can take action accordingly. Sign up for emergency weather warnings to get the latest on storm-related activity.
Know your evacuation routes, and have a designated place to meet up if separated from your family. Also designate an out-of-town family member to coordinate with if local phone systems become overloaded. In many cases, using text messages or a third-party messaging system like Facebook or WhatsApp can allow you to communicate when phone service is spotty.
Evacuation Kit Checklist
Having the right gear ready to go can make all the difference during an evacuation. Prepare:
- Water and non-perishable food for each person in your group, in an easy to transport crate – a gallon per person or pet per day of water is advisable
- A waterproof container with copies of all important personal and property related documents (see our blog on important homeowner documents)
- Medications and medical equipment, if needed, also in a waterproof container – include vitamins and over the counter meds as well as prescriptions
- A few spare changes of clothing for each person, including extra socks and shoes – preferably in a small “go-bag” for each person
- Two weeks’ worth of cash or more (ATMs quickly ruin out of funds in emergency situations and are inoperable in power outages)
- A radio, flashlights, batteries and rechargeable power packs, tire inflator, car battery jumper, extra gas can full of fuel, plastic ponchos, and pillows / blankets in case you must sleep in your car
Evacuate sooner rather than later, if possible. Follow instructions from authorities regarding routes and traffic. In many cases, highways may have traffic reversed heading out of the soon-to-be-affected area. Keep a radio tuned to a channel delivering authoritative messages and information. Don’t attempt to drive through rising water. Don’t attempt to return to your home until you receive an all-clear from authorities.
The information in this blog series has been designed to help you prepare for a catastrophic weather event. It is not intended to replace instructions or information from your local authorities, whose recommendations in times of catastrophe should take precedence. By thinking ahead, you can help decrease your risk and losses during Florida hurricane season.