Hurricane season is officially here, meaning a serious storm could make its way through Central Florida between now and November 30. Orlando got lucky when Hurricane Matthew made a last-minute shift last October, but it only takes one storm to change everything.
How to Prepare
While it’s always best to complete your preparation checklist in advance of hurricane season, there’s still time to make sure you have everything ready. Here’s what you should do:
1. Put together a basic emergency kit with enough food, water, medications and supplies to last for at least 72 hours. Supplies should include flashlights with extra batteries, clothing, a battery-powered radio and a first aid kit. Be sure to include enough food and water for your pet if you have one.
2. Write or review your family’s emergency plan, including how to get in touch with each other in an emergency, where you will go and your best evacuation route. Also determine your safe room if you are not required to evacuate and will be riding out the storm at home. It should be a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level of the home, and try to keep as many walls between you and the outside as possible.
3. Keep your trees trimmed well in advance of a storm.
4. Check your insurance policies to ensure you will be covered for anything related to natural disaster, including flooding. Prepare your home and vehicles in accordance with your insurance policies so any damages will be covered. Be sure to keep copies of your insurance documents in an easy-to-find location and take them with you if you have to evacuate.
A Watch vs. A Warning
When a tropical cyclone forms in the Atlantic Ocean, the NOAA National Hurricane Center issues advisories at least every six hours, if not more, noting the anticipated path and strength of the storm. You will typically see watches and warnings ahead of the storm’s center as it approaches landfall. A watch means to be prepared – discuss your emergency plan, check supplies, know where your safe room is and evacuate if you are told to do so. A warning means to take action because there is imminent danger to life and property. When a warning is issued, it is time to move into your safe room, and you should evacuate the area immediately if told to do so.
As a Floridian, you likely know all there is to know about hurricanes. But keep the following common facts in mind as the season progresses.
-Tornadoes are common as a hurricane moves ashore and typically occur in thunderstorms embedded in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
-Winds are considered hurricane force at 74 mph.
-There is a short period of calm in the eye of a hurricane, but it doesn’t last for long. When the eye passes, the winds change direction and rapidly return to hurricane force.
Source: NOAA National Hurricane Center