As Hurricane Irma reached a category 5 and is in line to hit southern Florida, beginning with the Florida Keys, government agencies and residents are scrambling to prepare.
Warnings About Hurricane Irma
According to The Washington Post Hurricane Irma has reached historic proportions beyond its categorization as a Category 5 hurricane. Even more devastating, Irma is also the “strongest hurricane recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Weather meteorologists predict Irma will make Florida landfall at some point over the weekend. Irma’s winds are currently 185 mph and she is tied with another hurricane as the second strongest hurricane ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Wilma in 2005.
Now is the time for Florida residents to plan their emergency measures.
Some relevant statistics that put planning into perspective are that more than 50% of hurricane fatalities happen due to flooding. The majority of flooding deaths occur when people are in their cars.
If authorities order evacuation, don’t hesitate about evacuating. Leave right away so you can be safe.
Steps to Prepare for Hurricane Irma
- Gas tank. Because Florida only has a few major freeways that head north, expect thoroughfares to be crowded and fill up your gas tank in the event gas becomes difficult to buy.
- Bankcards and credit cards. Let banks or credit card companies know you are leaving town so they don’t question out-of-the-area credit or debit card use.
- Lodging. Stay with friends or family if possible. Hotels will be crowded. Book hotels now if you don’t have other places to stay.
- Shelters. Shelters are a last resort for lodging because they will be crowded as well. Most likely, you won’t be able to bring your pet to a shelter either.
- Packing. Bring cash, clothes (pack in plastic bags), food, water, cellphone charger and back up battery, prescription and non-prescription medications (pain relievers), diaper bag for babies, toys and books for children, pets, pet food and water for 3-7 days, leashes, harnesses, important documents in a plastic bag (insurance policies, ID cards, Social Security card, medical records) flashlights and extra batteries, first-aid kit, local maps, toiletries (toilet paper, sanitary napkins, moisture wipes) and a whistle (in case you need to signal for help).
One of two scenarios typically takes place during a hurricane. You are ordered to evacuate. Or you can stay in your home while the hurricane passes through. Either way, you must prepare your home.
Here are some guidelines:
- Windows. Board up your windows if you live near the coast.
- Trees. Trim trees to prevent branches from falling on your home.
- Gutters and downspouts. Clear gutters and downspouts to avoid your home being flooded.
- Generators. If you lose electricity, you can use a portable generator. Never turn on the generator indoors. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet. Don’t run your generator in the rain or during flooding. Cover the generator to prevent it from getting wet due to rain.
- Air conditioners. So debris doesn’t damage your air conditioning unit, make sure you cover it.
- Lawn furniture. Secure your lawn furniture inside.
- Garage door. Reinforce or strongly secure your garage door.
Food & Water Preparation
- How much food and water should you have on hand? Suggestions for food and water include:
- A minimum of one gallon of water a day for each person for up to 7 days
- Include non-perishable packaged or canned foods and juices, food for infants or elderly persons, and snack foods that are enough for each person for up to 7 days.
- Paper plates and plastic utensils for up to 7 days.
- Pet food and water for up to 7 days.
Create an Emergency Plan
You may not know where you’ll be when hurricane conditions worsen. You could be at home, at work or at school or at a daycare, for example.
The National Hurricane Center recommends that you make an emergency plan to protect yourself and your family. Your plan should include locations where you will go if ordered to evacuate. You should plan where to go if you are at home, in the workplace or at school or daycare. Plans take into consideration various factors. Using the workplace as an example, here are a few questions you need to consider:
- How will you get local alerts or warnings while there?
- What evacuation plans does your place of work have including various exits?
- How would the building or business shelter its occupants during an emergency?
- What key supplies would be needed for temporary sheltering?
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