With the news this morning that Hurricane Irma had intensified into a Category 5 storm, preparations around the state have kicked into high gear. It still isn’t clear how heavily Irma will impact the state, but a Florida landfall is looking increasingly likely.
As we’ve seen with Hurricane Harvey – not to mention our own personal experiences with storms like Matthew in 2016 and Charley in 2004 – you can never be too prepared. Here’s a handy guide to help you be ready for Hurricane Irma, or any storm that threatens Florida during hurricane season, which runs through November 30.
Stock Up Now
Just about every Floridian has experienced the big crowds and empty shelves of the pre-storm shopping rush. Call ahead to your local store to check availability and try shopping early in the morning to catch newly arrived inventory. If your store is out of stock, consider Amazon and other quick-ship delivery options for these critical supplies:
- Candles (and matches or lighters)
- Distilled or sparkling water (enough for drinking and bathing)
- First aid supplies
- Canned foods and shelf-stable snacks
- Disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils
- Non-electric can opener
- Battery-powered radio
- Baby items (diapers, bottles, formula)
Make a Family Plan
It’s a good idea for every family to have a disaster plan, even if that disaster never strikes. First, think ahead about evacuation. Do you know where you’ll go if you’re ordered to leave? Plan ahead with friends or family members outside the city or state, or predetermine a safe location of your choosing.
You may also want to pick a family meeting place – a familiar location outside your home where family members can find each other. This way, everyone will know where to go if communications are interrupted and your home becomes unsafe or family members become separated.
Keep a Contact List
Most of us rely on our phones to remember (or look up) key numbers, but in the event of a power or Internet outage it’s smart to keep a paper list of these contacts:
- Friends/Family Members
- Local Emergency Management Office
- County Law Enforcement
- County Public Safety/Fire Rescue
- State, County and City/Town Government
- Local Hospitals (Click here to find your Florida Hospital's phone number)
- Local Utilities
- Local American Red Cross
- Local TV and Radio Stations
- Your Property Insurance
Be Health Smart
No matter what level of care you require, it’s vital to make arrangements ahead of time. Here are a few tips:
- Prepare your prescriptions. If you take medications, be sure you have a two-week supply on hand in case your pharmacy closes or becomes unreachable.
- Refresh your first aid kit. Every year, take a look at your kit and restock it with new supplies, such as aspirin or other pain relievers, antacids, bandages and gauze, a thermometer, scissors, and antiseptics.
- Have special needs? Make a plan. Work with your physician in advance of a storm if you have a disability, depend on an electronic medical device, oxygen or other equipment, or need in-home health care.
- Plan ahead for moms-to-be. Expectant mothers who are two weeks away or less from their delivery date or considered high-risk may want to make special arrangements with their physician or hospital.
Prepare Your Home
First things first: We strongly recommend that you heed any evacuation orders. Whether you are riding out the storm at home or securing it before you evacuate, here are some preparations to make in advance:
- Store copies of important documents (such as passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies) in a waterproof container.
- Bring in lawn furniture, plants, trash cans, bicycles and other items that could become airborne in high winds.
- If you don’t have permanent storm shutters, board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood. Remember, tape is not strong enough to prevent shattering.
- Identify a safe room in your home. An interior, windowless room on the lower floor is best.
- If the storm is imminent, clean and fill bathtubs with water.
Don’t Forget About Pets!
In the rush to prepare, our furry friends can sometimes get overlooked. Aside from keeping pets inside as much as possible during and after a storm, here some ways to prepare for their care:
- Make sure you have a two-week supply of food, supplies and medications.
- Gather immunization records in case you need to evacuate.
- Take a current photo of each pet (in case they become lost).
As always, the safety and comfort of our patients, visitors, and staff is our top priority. We have a comprehensive disaster plan in place, and will continue to keep a close eye on Hurricane Irma’s path in the coming days. If landfall in Florida becomes imminent, stay tuned here for more important updates and safety tips.