Are You Complacent About Hurricane Preparedness?
Until two months ago I had lived in Ohio for the entirety of my life. Growing up, I was taught about preparing for the tornadoes and snow storms that regularly hit the Midwest. For as long as I can remember when a bad storm would hit my hometown, my family and I would go under the basement stairs. Every winter I would have multiple blankets in my car just in case I got stranded during a blizzard.
Hurricanes, however, were never on my radar. But moving to Charleston, South Carolina has opened my eyes to hurricane preparedness. Living on the coast is completely different than living in a land-locked state. I now have to think about evacuation routes, flood areas and the tides. Thankfully, I have been educated on hurricane preparedness through Firestorm since joining the team in May.
Hurricane preparedness is not a topic to take lightly. But what happens when people get complacent and don’t take preparing seriously? This may be the case with some Floridians.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of when four storms (all Category 2 or higher) hit the Florida peninsula. The summer of 2004 brought Hurricane Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan to the Sunshine State. People were prepared with bottled water, batteries, radios and generators. They were paying attention to the possibility of a natural disaster.
Now, a decade later, people are not as alert and cautiously preparing.
- A new wave of people moving to the state. According to the U.S. Census, about 1 million people have moved to Florida since the last hurricane hit the state in 2005. The newcomers do not have experience with hurricanes or typhoons. Therefore, underestimating the possibility of destruction.
- People can quickly forget painful events. Debra McCaughey, emergency management director for Martin County, Fla, compares forgetfulness to childbirth. “We forget how much that hurts.” She agrees that Floridians are getting complacent. “As each year passes and time goes by, it just falls back in their memories and they’re forgetting and they start saying things like, ‘If we get another one.’”
In 2004, Hurricane Charley killed 15 people and caused $15 billion worth of damage. Ivan killed 54. Hurricane preparedness should never be taken lightly.
Hurricane Preparedness from Firestorm
If you are a Business: What is your plan for this season’s Hurricane threat?
- How will you deal with employee shortages due to a storm?
- Will suppliers be affected? Do you have a backup Supply Chain plan?
- Do you have an Employee Crisis Communication channel?
- Have you communicated to Customers?
- Remember the 48 hour “YOYO” rule: You’re On Your Own the first 48 hours immediately after a disaster
Ways to prepare before a hurricane
- Create a written emergency preparedness and action plan for your family and business. Review it, distribute it, be available to answer questions and concerns.
- Call your insurance agent and/or carefully review your policy. Review insurance coverage for your home and business, and the contents. Determine your flood insurance eligibility – homeowners insurance typically does not cover flood damage.
- Prepare crates or other safe transport for pets. Sixty-one percent of people will not evacuate if they cannot take their pets with them. Have food and familiar items ready for your pet.
- Buy plywood or shutters for protecting windows. Trim trees to lessen flying debris. Store outdoor furniture, umbrellas, and other objects that have the potential to become projectiles and harm others.
- Remember – many injuries occur before a storm from unsafe use of power tools before an emergency – stay calm and ask for help if unfamiliar with drills, saws and other tools.
- Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone by contacting your local emergency management office. Make an evacuation plan if you live in an area vulnerable to storm surge or fresh water flooding, if you live in a mobile home or if you live in a high-rise building.
- Identify the evacuation route you will use if told to evacuate. Determine the nearest substantial, low-rise building outside of flood zones to which you can evacuate such as an official public shelter, a hotel or a friend’s or relative’s home. Find out if where you’re going will accept any pets. Gas up your car. Do not store extra gasoline in an unsafe manner.
- Agree upon two places family members can meet if separated: one outside your home for an emergency while there and one out of the neighborhood if you cannot return home.
- Test emergency equipment such as generators and flashlights. Replace batteries, have extra batteries on hand. If using kerosene lanterns or candles, guard against fire. Store flammable liquids in a safe and secure manner.
- Decide where you will store your boat and RV during a tropical storm or hurricane and factor into your action plan the time to move it to storage.
- Assemble a hurricane survival kit. Obtain emergency supplies now to be self-sufficient during the storm and its potentially lengthy aftermath. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep to buy these items, they will be in very short supply or even completely unavailable. Water for utility usage (not personal washing or consumption) may be stored in bathtubs and hot-tubs.
Be prepared for any kind of disaster by downloading our free book, Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America.