The best time to prepare your personal emergency plan and make sure it is up to date is before you need it. Here in Florida, we often focus on hurricane preparation but wildfires are also a frequent threat. Preparation doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are three steps to prepare for common emergencies:
Wildfire planning starts with prevention. As a homeowner, you can take precautions to ensure you do not contribute or encourage fires. The Division of Forestry offers a brochure detailing suggestions and tips for prevention by homeowners, communities and organizations. They suggest three simple things you should do to increase the odds your home will survive a wildfire:
- Clean your roof and gutters.
- Clean around the sides of your home.
- Keep the area within 30 feet of your home mowed, picked up, and watered within water management guidelines.
Hurricanes can last for days, pounding Florida with rain, flooding low-lying areas, and spinning off tornadoes. If the hurricane reaches land, it brings with it a storm surge, destroying coastal areas.
- Measure and cut plywood or window coverings. Test fit and label before storing.
- Hurricanes can knock out power. Store extra fuel and keep it fresh during hurricane season.
- Keep 4-5 days worth of food and 1 gallon of water per person per day.
While hyped by Hollywood, the spread of a communicable disease is probable in a international tourist destination such as Florida. With the lack of a cold war nuclear threat, the fear of cannibalism and disease has assumed the role of keeping people prepared and alert. A zombie apocalypse has become the metaphorical shorthand for disaster preparedness, but mostly for the flu season.
- Wash your hands often.
- If it’s wet, sticky, and not yours, don’t touch it.
- If you are feeling sick or have a fever, stay home.
While preparing any emergency preparedness plan for your family, a plan to evacuate should be included. The Florida Department of Transportation has a website that offers you all the resources for understanding the evacuation guidelines on Florida highways, including the details on the one-way evacuation methods used on several major corridors. The site details all routes that can be used in one-way evacuation routes so you can take that into consideration when planning your own route.
Plan to Meet Up
With any disaster, returning home may not be possible. Wildfires may cut off travel routes or block them with smoke. Hurricanes and tornadoes can force bridge closings and other detours. Even major vehicle pile ups can can rise to the level of a disaster. Have primary rally points with contingency plans ready.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management has a wealth of information if you are unsure of where to begin your emergency planning for your family.
- Do you have a stockpile of supplies to last your family 3-5 days?
- Do you have an emergency communications plan and contact lists?
- Do you have a safe place to meet up or evacuate to in the event of an emergency or natural disaster?
- Do you have provisions for your pets?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you should take a look at the Emergency Management website and begin improving your plan.