Prepare for the worst and hope for the best – it’s a phrase familiar to most Floridians, whether you’re an old hand at hurricane prep or getting ready for your first (potential) one.
To help keep South Florida families safe during Hurricane Irma, we’ve gathered the following tips from FloridaDisaster.Org and Save the Children to help you prepare for what may be ahead. You can also visit the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management for additional advice and resources.
Hold a family meeting. Discuss the hazards of hurricanes, encourage children to talk about their fears, and explain some of the things you’ll be doing to keep everyone safe.
Evacuate or not? Determine whether or not you live in an evacuation zone. If you do, decide where you’ll go if an evacuation order is given, be it the home of a relative or friend, or a local shelter.
Practice your escape plan. Do a few dry runs of your family’s evacuation plan, so you can leave quickly and safely if you must leave at all.
Protect your belongings. Inventory possessions, videotape/photograph items of value, and decide where you’ll store or park your car. Review insurance policies to ensure you have adequate coverage.
Hurricane-proof your home. Determine what must be done to protect your home and property (hurricane shutters, generator, landscaping), and to keep your family as comfortable as possible during recovery.
Anyone in your household with special needs? If so, make arrangements in advance to accommodate them during the storm.
Protect your pet. Remember too, to address your pet’s needs and how you’ll protect them during an emergency and/or evacuation.
Gather supplies. Confirm your family’s food, water and medical needs, and assemble your hurricane kit according to that. Click here for a list of recommended basic supplies.
Notify others of your plan. Let family or friends know what your plan is, so they can check on you in the aftermath of the storm.
Learn your caregivers’ disaster plan. If your child’s school or child care center is located in an at-risk area, find out how its emergency plans address hurricanes. Ask about evacuation protocols and if you would be required to pick up your child from the site or another location.
Stay informed. Tune into a NOAA Weather Radio station or listen to a local station on a portable, battery-powered radio or television. Be ready to act if a hurricane warning is issued.
Stay indoors if not evacuated. If you’re not advised to evacuate, or are unable to do so safely, stay inside and away from windows, skylights and doors. Continue to monitor weather reports and do not go outside until the storm has passed.
Limit kids’ media exposure. Protect children from seeing too many images of the hurricane, including those on the internet, television and newspapers.
Ensure utilities are available. Before you return to areas impacted by a storm, make sure utilities - such as electricity and plumbing - are restored, and that living and learning spaces (e.g., homes, schools, child care facilities) are free of physical and environmental hazards.
Involve children in recovery. After a hurricane, let children contribute to clean-up and recovery efforts in age-appropriate ways, as lending a hand may increase their sense of control over the situation.
• Hurricane/tropical storm WATCH There is a threat of hurricane/tropical storm conditions within 48 hours.
• Hurricane/tropical storm WARNING Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in 36 hours or less.
• Hurricane/tropical storm LOCAL STATEMENT Issued every two to three hours by local National Weather Service (NWS) offices to summarize all watches and warnings, evacuation information, and the most immediate threats to a specific area.