When it comes to natural disasters, Florida – with hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, wildfires and flooding – certainly has more than its share.
And a University of Florida storm-preparation expert says that’s good reason for Floridians to spend a bit of time planning for such emergencies. This being National Hurricane Preparedness Week, Mike Spranger says, there’s no time like today.
Spranger, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor in family, youth and community sciences, worked with colleagues in Florida to adapt a Gulf of Mexico states-oriented handbook for Floridians. Called the “Florida Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards,” it’s free and available online at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/disaster_prep/ .
At a minimum, Spranger says, Florida residents ought to have a storm supply of three days’ worth of nonperishable food and a five-day water supply (one gallon per person per day). An even better goal, he suggests: a five- to seven-day supply of nonperishable food and a seven-day water supply of three gallons per person per day, which allows enough water for hand-washing, cooking and other needs.
“The very most important things people want after storms are water and ice – and that’s the very first thing that’s going to be in short supply,” Spranger said.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, but the 140-page handbook reminds readers that hurricanes and tropical storms can and do form before and after the confines of hurricane season.
The handbook has tons of tips and suggestions for Floridians, covering details such as keeping spare cash handy in case ATMs aren’t working, hanging onto at least one hardwire telephone in case cellular service goes out, keeping your gas tank full, and specific ways to shore up your windows, doors and garage doors (fun fact: about 80 percent of wind damage to homes starts with wind entering the garage).
Also included are reminders to have a plan for pets since most emergency shelters won’t accept them; keep prescriptions filled and copies of them in a waterproof box or folder, along with one’s other important documents such as birth records, insurance policies, and descriptions and photos of home valuables; as well as suggestions for storing sentimental items like family photos, digitally, in case a home computer or other electronic gadgets are destroyed.
There are also suggestions for optional storm-related products one might buy, including roof clips and other home improvements; as well as items such as a portable toilet, a weather radio and a generator.
“Even if you get this handbook and only implement a few of the ideas, you’ll be ahead of most people,” Spranger said. “These are all relatively easy things that don’t cost you anything, except time.”