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Hurricane season is here. Here’s how to prepare

Hot, humid Florida experiences only one season year round – summer. Though Floridians don’t get to enjoy the crisp, cool fall weather or the magical wonderland that is winter, one season is inevitable here, and it’s hurricane season.

June 1 marks the beginning of the period, which spans through November, and it’s a pretty big deal for those of us who make our home in the Magic City. Beautiful bay-front properties translate to vulnerable and potentially dangerous storm sites.

If you’re new to the South Florida area, then maybe the closest you’ve come to a hurricane is a cocktail or a certain green-and-orange clad sports team. If you’ve been here longer, take a minute to revisit how to prepare, since it’s been 10 years since the last big storm hit Miami.

Don’t be this reporter. We get it– it’s easy for locals to disregard storms under a certain category, so check out our guide to the damage caused by storm category from 1 to 5.

While this hurricane season is forecast to be a mild one, Hurricane Andrew, the most devastating hurricane in recent Miami memory, arrived when experts expected a milder season. It’s best to be prepared.

Know

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Review your hurricane plans and prepare to act if a hurricane warning is issued.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours, complete your storm preparations and prepare to leave the area if directed by authorities.

  • Know your local alerts and warnings.
  • Know which local radio and TV stations broadcast emergency information.
  • Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
  • Know if you live in an evacuation area. Find a friend or family member in a non-evacuation zone to rid out the storm with or your designated evacuation site. If you live in an evacuation zone, free transportation to a Hurricane Evacuation Center is available by Miami-Dade Transit near the blue “Bus Pick Up Point” sign in your neighborhood.

Prepare

  • Get and discuss your plan: Your friends and family may not be together when the storm strikes, how will you find each other or communicate? What will you do if water, gas or electricity are shut off? What happens if you are evacuated or confined in your home? Based off some basic household information, flgetaplan.com provides a customized emergency plan. Don’t forget to plan for your pet and make arrangements if you have a boat or a pool.
  • Make a list of emergency contacts: Include local emergency management office, county law enforcement, fire rescue, county government, local hospitals, utilities, American Red Cross, property insurance agent, friends, and family.
  • Plan routes to a local shelter or evacuation site: Find your evacuation center. Learn about the Emergency Evacuation & Evacuation Assistance Program for those who may require specialized transportation or cannot evacuate on their own.
  • Make a supplies kit: There’s a complete list from Miami-Dade County and the Center for Disease Control, but the general rule is a three-day supply of food and water for each household member. The kit should include ready-to-eat foods, water, a camping stove, a first aid kit, a radio, cash, important documents, an emergency contact list, special need items like medication, clothing and flashlights.

Do

In the days leading up to a storm:

  • Listen to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or check local media for information from the National Weather Service.
  • Double-check your disaster supplies and kit.
  • Bring in outdoor items like potted plants, patio furniture, decorations and garbage cans, as they can be carried away and cause damage.
  • Fill up your car’s gas tank.
  • Turn off any propane tanks, like those for your grill.
  • Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If your home doesn’t have shutters, board up windows and doors with plywood. If you’re in an apartment or condo, check with your landlord or building management to find out what you need to do about your windows.
  • Protect important documents.
  • Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.
  • Have one traditionally wired land-line phone as cordless or cell phones may not work in an emergency.
  • Place drinking water in containers (milk jugs, large soda bottles) and fill up your bathtub.
  • Fill open plastic containers about 2/3 full of water and freeze in your freezer (uncovered so it doesn’t crack the container when it expands.) The blocks of ice will keep your freezer items colder longer if power goes out.
  • Turn your fridge and freezer to the coldest setting and keep closed as much as possible.
  • Eat perishable items first and throw away anything in doubt or unrefrigerated.

Defining Hurricane Categories

During a hurricane:

  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Obey evacuation orders.
  • If you’re staying inn your home, take shelter in an interior room with few or no windows, doors or vents – if possible a room with a water supply and a hard-wired telephone.
  • Make sure all members of your household are with you, and take your supplies kit.
  • Protect yourself with mattress or padding.
  • Stay indoors until an all clear signal has been announced.
  • Keep in mind the “eye of the storm” may make it seem like the storm is over, but soon after, the winds will return to intense velocities.

More resources: 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Guide: How to Prepare for a Hurricane 

Miami Dade County Hurricane Guide 

Ready.gov‘s Hurricane Guide:

Read up on the CDC’s health considerations before, during and after a storm.

Food and Drug Administration’s food and water safety guidelines.

Environmental Protection Agency’s health and environmental safety information.

By Ashley Martinez
Ashley Martinez is an editorial fellow for The New Tropic. She recently graduated from the University of Miami with a dual major in journalism and psychology. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre, singing show tunes, and all things Disney.