With Spring being the most popular season to buy and sell homes, Florida welcomes hundreds of thousands of new residents every spring season. Floridians have learned to be ready for when a hurricane threatens the area. Last year, two Hurricanes heavily impacted Florida residents: Hurricane Hermine and Hurricane Matthew. For new Florida residents, it is important to prepare for and to monitor the reports issued by the National Hurricane Center.
Are you ready?
On May 25, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a disaster preparedness sales tax holiday, which runs from June 2 through June 4. Residents are encouraged to purchase enough water, non-perishable food, batteries, propane, and other storm necessities to last three to seven days in case of an emergency. The level of the emergency will determine whether it is safe to remain at home or to go to a designated shelter. Residents should research the closest shelter to their new home and should develop and share plans with their families on how to react in an emergency situation, including responding to hurricanes. Traditionally, waiting until the last minute to purchase emergency supplies has resulted in waiting in 4 hour lines and stores running out of supplies across the affected counties. So, what is the best practice? Purchase all of the recommended items that you and your family will need and use well in advance of an emergency. Store all necessary items together in a weather-safe container somewhere in the house where all adults and capable children can locate it.
Drinking water. Officials recommend a gallon per person, per day, depending on the heat and the individual’s activity level. Residents should over estimate their need for water. Avoid using containers that can decompose (cartons) or break (glass). Children, nursing mothers, the elderly, and the ill will need more water. Don’t forget water for your pets!
Water for sanitation and food preparation. An extra gallon per person, per day will be required for bathing, cleaning, and preparing food for your family. Water for these purposes are limited at shelters. If a “boil-water” warning has been issued for your area, you will also need water purification tablets (to be used if you still have running water). Don’t forget water for mixing formula!
Non-perishable food items. Ready-to-eat canned goods (meat, fruit, vegetables, tuna), dried fruit, peanut butter, jelly, canned juices, crackers, granola bars, soup, milk, etc. Cookies, hard candy, and instant coffee and tea are good for the stress foods. Don’t forget pet food and medications!
Baby needs. Diaper rash ointment, baby wipes, formula, special needs foods, bottles, pacifiers, favorite toy, blankets, etc.
Medications. Using a medicine container or a labeled Ziploc bag, pack a week’s worth of medicine for each family member and store out of reach of children. This will prevent the need to gather several medicine bottles in a rush during an emergency. Try to always have at least a 30 day supply of medicine on hand during hurricane season. During hurricane season, residents typically do not have more than a few days’ notice of a possible impact. This is generally not enough time to fill a prescription, especially when pharmacies tend to run out of supplies during an emergency. Don’t forget non-prescription drugs (Benadryl, aspirin, antacid)!
Entertainment. Pack board games, cards, books, batteries, chargers for all electronics, coloring books and crayons for entertainment at a shelter or at home if the power goes out.
In a flood zone? Purchase sandbags in advance. Check your flood insurance to ensure coverage in the event of a hurricane related flood.
Clothing and bedding. Boots, towels, blankets, sleeping bags, camping gear, portable chairs, pillows, and at least two complete changes of clothing per person. Don’t forget appropriate footwear!
Other Necessities. Garbage bags, propane, disinfectants, deodorant, hand-held fans, industrial fans or portable a/c units, personal hygiene items, toilet paper, soap, liquid hand sanitizer, first aid kit, paper, pens, cash (most businesses will not accept checks during a power outage), map of the area, citronella candles, tools, signal flare, flashlights with extra batteries, bug repellant, duct tape, dust mask, whistle, etc. Remember: in the case of a sudden power outage, it is best to store flashlights somewhere that is known by every family member so they can be found quickly!
For more information on how to prepare for Hurricane Season, please visit http://www.ready.gov/hurricane or contact Sapphire Title & Escrow for assistance.
By Jessica Skoglund Mazariego