Hurricane preparation now can save lives when storms strike

By Marian Johns | | Aug 25, 2018

Not waiting until the last minute to get supplies and knowing what to expect after a storm are all important.  

As we reach the peak of hurricane season, which is August through October, now is the perfect time to review your hurricane supplies according to experts. Whether you plan to hunker down in your home or have to follow a mandatory evacuation, your supplies will be key. 

No matter what your hurricane plans include, not waiting until the last minute to get supplies and knowing what to expect after a storm are all important, explains University of South Florida professor of geosciences Dr. Jennifer Collins. 

"People need to come up with several plans," Collins said. "What they will do if they are staying and what preparations do they need to do to the house if they are leaving, and where will they go under different track scenarios. In either case, you will need supplies. Many of these supplies will not be available at the last minute as everyone clears the supermarket shelves. There is also a lot to do as the storm approaches, so I recommend getting supplies in a staggered way, so you get some early."

Collins said things like generators and supplies to protect your windows and glass doors should be purchased ahead of time. 

"Power can go out, and as we saw with some storms in the 2017 season and some locations, it can go out for days, weeks, or in the case of Puerto Rico, even months," Collins said. "Therefore a backup generator is key."

Collins said must-have items on your hurricane supply list should include batteries, flashlights and non-perishable food. Don't forget the manual can opener, and she recommends having a week's worth of water for each person in your home. She also said supplies should include back-up batteries for your devices, a first aid kit, paper plates, plastic cups and utensils, a whistle to call for help, garbage bags and moist towelettes for personal sanitation. 

Collins also suggests puzzles and activities for kids as well as extra things needed for babies and pets, however her No. 1 suggestion for a hurricane supply kit is an NOAA weather radio.

As far as what kind of conditions to expect after a storm, Collins said people need to remain cautious as the storm wanes. 

"As the eye passes through, conditions will be calm, but people shouldn't let their guard down as the second side of the eye wall still has to pass," she said. "This has the strongest winds in it."

Besides power outages and downed active power lines, Collins said there could be trees across roads blocking people from getting out of their residential area. 

"As we saw with Hurricane Irma, many contractors seemed to skip Hillsborough County and went to other counties where they were being offered more money, so it may be weeks before branches will be collected but that could be the least of your problems if you have been inundated with storm surge and your house is inhabitable," said Collins. 

So even during an inactive hurricane season, don't let your preparedness slide, Collins reminds residents.

"Even if it continues to be inactive, it only takes one as we say," she said as she referenced Hurricane Andrew which hit in 1992, an inactive year.

Finally, neighbors helping neighbors is always a good thing. 

"My research has indicated the importance of social connections to people's plans, so be good to your neighbors," she said. 

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