Hurricane Season Safety Tips and Emergency Preparedness

1Oct
Hurricane season is here, and that means Floridians need to take additional precautions to keep their families safe. The following sections outline hurricane statistics in Florida, resources for hurricane preparedness, tips on hurricane safety, and what to do in the event of an injury or property damage. Hurricane Disaster Facts and Statistics Studies show that, […]

Hurricane season is here, and that means Floridians need to take additional precautions to keep their families safe. The following sections outline hurricane statistics in Florida, resources for hurricane preparedness, tips on hurricane safety, and what to do in the event of an injury or property damage.

Hurricane Disaster Facts and Statistics

Studies show that, of the 292 hurricanes that have made landfall in the U.S. since 1851, 120 of them reached Florida. Florida experiences the most hurricanes of any state in the nation. Every mile of Florida’s coastline has been hit by a hurricane storm or the tropical storm winds generated by a hurricane, and much of Florida’s interior has experienced storm conditions caused by hurricanes making landfall on the coast.[1]

One of the most important factors to consider regarding hurricanes is the category of the storm. Categories 1 and 2 refer to dangerous storms with winds from 74 to 110 miles per hour. Such storms are likely to cause extensive damage, but homes can be protected against such storms. Categories 3-5, on the other hand, refer to storms with wind speeds from 111 to 155+ miles per hour, storms that are so devastating they can cause catastrophic damage.

Further, it’s not just wind damage Floridians need to be concerned about. Hurricanes also cause flooding as a result of extreme rainfall and serious storm surges (coastal flooding from the ocean).

Hurricane Preparedness Resources

The following are hurricane emergency resources. These have been compiled by FloridaDisaster.org, a division of the Florida Department of Emergency Management:

 

A Family Hurricane Plan. This plan details what families need to do to prepare for a hurricane. Families should do all of their preparation before a hurricane strikes, as the best way to respond to a natural disaster is to be prepared for that disaster. That means having a plan, storing the necessary items, knowing when and how to evacuate, and understanding what to do when the hurricane strikes.[2]

 

A Business Hurricane Plan. Protecting one’s business during a hurricane is also important. Brick-and-mortar businesses need to be set up to withstand major storms and potentially numerous days where one will not be able to return to their business due to flooding, blocked roads, long-term evacuations, etc.[3]

 

Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Hillsborough County Resources. Every Florida county has a dedicated office for Emergency Management. The office information for each county can be found at the Department of Emergency Management site linked above.[4]

 

A Tampa Bay Area-based Disaster Response Organization published a free ebook outlining how to prepare for and respond to Florida’s natural disasters. The book was written by a Pinellas County EMT, describing how Florida’s natural disasters (primarily hurricanes) affect the state, and what Floridians can do to get prepared and safely overcome hurricane disasters.[5]

Avoiding Property Damage and Bodily Injury During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is approaching and one does not have time to evacuate or if they are told by emergency personnel not to evacuate, the following steps should be observed to stay safe:[6]

 

  • Pay attention to emergency information and alerts.
  • “Turn around, don’t drown!” Don’t walk, swim, or drive in floodwaters.
  • If in a mandatory evacuation zone and local officials put out the evacuation order, evacuate immediately.
  • If staying put, take refuge in a designated storm shelter or interior room that is protected from high winds.
  • If trapped by flooding, go to the highest level of the building, the roof if necessary. Do not climb into a closed attic.

 

Some Florida hospitals report that the most emergency department visits they experience regarding a hurricane occur several days after the hurricane makes landfall, meaning these accidents and injuries are actually a result of people responding to hurricane damage, not injuries from the hurricane storm itself. Once the hurricane has passed, the following safety tips should be observed:[7]

 

  • Avoid floodwaters! One can never know how deep floodwater is, or if the water is in connection with an exposed electrical line, thus passing a potentially lethal current of electricity through the water.

 

  • Storm cleanup is dangerous. Practice extreme caution when operating a chainsaw, assessing hurricane damage, or removing debris.

 

  • When addressing hurricane damage, medical professionals recommend wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, hard soled, closed-toe shoes or boots, thick gloves, and insect repellent.

 

  • It’s also important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen during storm clean-up.

 

Homeowners and business owners can protect their property from some hurricane damage by following these steps:[8]

 

  • Cover all windows with hurricane shutters. You can also add shatter-resistant film or replace window panes with stormproof high-impact glass to prevent glass from breaking. 

 

  • Home entry doors and garage doors should also be reinforced with strengthened wheel tracks, heavy-duty deadbolts, slide bolts, and longer hinge attachments.

 

  • Safe rooms are a good idea not just for seeking shelter, but also as a place to store valuables in the event of a particularly catastrophic storm.

 

  • Reinforce the roof with impact-resistant shingles and anchor the roof to the home’s framing with roof strappings.
If an Emergency Occurs…

Proper preparedness can help protect one’s family and property from most hurricane-related harm, but no plan is 100% foolproof. If a hurricane does occur and one experiences physical harm or property damage as a result, follow the steps:

 

  • Seek emergency medical help immediately.
  • Once the emergency has subsided, assess the cause of the injury.
  • If the damage is property-related, document damage with photographs.
  • Be sure to get a written statement from medical professionals as to the cause of the injury.

 

Medical harm or property damage from hurricanes may be partially or fully the result of others’ negligence.  If in the unfortunate event that an injury or property damage does occur and you or a loved one are the victim, please call Magazine Law Group at 727-499-9900.



Sources:

 

[1] FSU. “Florida Climate Center.” Florida State University, 2022. climatecenter.fsu.edu

 

[2] FDEM. “Get a Family Plan.” Florida Department of Emergency Management, 2022. floridadisaster.org

 

[3] FDEM. “Business & Industry.” Florida Department of Emergency Management, 2022. floridadisaster.org

 

[4] FDEM. “County Emergency Management” Florida Department of Emergency Management, 2022. floridadisaster.org

 

[5] Polaris. “Instant Hero.” Polaris Disaster Response, 2022. polarisdrt.org

 

[6] Ready. “Hurricanes.” U.S Department of Homeland Security, 2022. ready.gov

 

[7] Mayo Clinic. “Hurricane safety: Avoiding injuries after the storm.” Mayo Clinic, 2019. newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org

 

[8] FEMA. “Protect Your Property from Severe Winds.” Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2022. fema.gov