Photo of a person in between crossroads if Ihe/she should evacuate or stay when a hurricane is coming

Should I Stay or Should I Evacuate My Florida Home

Making the decision of whether to evacuate or stay in your house or current location is one of the most crucial ones to make in an emergency. Before choosing any course of action, it is important to carefully consider determining factors such as your specific situation and the nature of the emergency. So here comes the real question, should I stay or evacuate my home?

Southwest Florida is a tropical paradise and a beautiful place to live. Florida is known as the “Sunshine State” due to year-round sunshine and warm sunny days. But not everything can be sunshine and unicorns all the time. When the gulf and ocean waters heat up they create an ideal environment for hurricanes to form and travel up our state.

Prepare for Hurricane Season

The best time to prepare for a hurricane is prior to when the storm season officially starts on June 1st. It is important to understand and recognize your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, wind, and flooding, to have the supplies you need, and to have a plan.

Things to do to be prepared for the Hurricane Season:

1. Know your evacuation zone

Storm surge flooding is the main danger from a hurricane to human life. You should heed any evacuation instructions if you’re in a mobile home, a low-lying flood zone, or both. Otherwise, it could be safer to stay in your house. Further, always follow the guidelines and orders of local authorities during a storm.

Make sure you have several choices and locations to take refuge if an evacuation is needed. Your evacuation plans should include a variety of places to stay spread out throughout the area and even outside the state. You could still have a safe location to go to if a natural catastrophe unexpectedly turns catastrophic and puts one of your evacuation choices in danger.

You may refer to the LeePrepares evacuation map and these disaster preparedness maps to find evacuation areas near you.

2. Assemble disaster supplies

After a disaster, it’s possible that you and your family may have to fend for yourselves. It’s critical to have enough supplies of things like food, water, medicine, and basics for emergencies. Following a disaster, local authorities and aid personnel will be on the scene, but they cannot quickly reach everyone. Either it will take hours or days to aid you. According to estimates, rescuers might take up to three days to get to some areas following a major disaster. Floridians are encouraged to have at least 7 days of supplies.

Additionally, basic services like power, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may not be available for days, a week, or longer. Things to assist you in managing these outages should be in your supply kit.

You can follow this checklist for a comprehensive list of supplies you need to prepare.

3. Review your insurance policies

Floods can happen if it rains heavily. The most common devastating weather event in the country is flooding. Florida has a higher likelihood of flooding because of the state’s frequent storms and close proximity to water. Despite this, most insurance plans exclude flooding from their coverage. Verify your coverage before it’s too late.

Things to Do When a Hurricane Warning is Issued

4. Know your Hurricane

During the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which spans from June 1 to November 30, the threat of hurricanes is quite serious for Florida. The hurricane season peaks between mid-August and late October, when the equatorial Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters have warmed sufficiently to enable the development of tropical waves.

In 2010, the National Hurricane Center adopted a revised version of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which uses just the peak winds to designate a hurricane.

175 to 95 mphMinimal; signs, tree branches, power lines down
296 to 110 mphModerate; larger signs, tree branches blown down
3111 to 130 mphExtensive; minor damage to buildings, trees blown down
4131 to 155 mphExtreme; almost total destruction of doors/windows
5More than 155 mphCatastrophic; buildings, roofs, and structures destroyed
5. Strengthen Your Home

Whether you intend to evacuate or stay in your house to weather the storm, be sure it is in excellent shape and meets the requirements of your area’s hurricane construction code so it can endure wind impacts. There are many retrofits that are less expensive and time-consuming than you may imagine.

Put up the windows and doors using the appropriate plywood, steel, or aluminum panels. The garage door has to be wind-resistant because it is the section of the house that is most susceptible to damage. Lastly, don’t forget to cover your windows, trim trees, secure loose outdoor items, secure all doors, and move your vehicle to a safe location.

6. Help out your neighbors

There are several ways you may assist your neighbors who may need to rely on others before and after a crisis.

Help them evacuate
  • Check to see whether they’ve prepared a basic emergency kit. It is especially important for the elderly to include their medical prescriptions.
  • Assist them in contacting family or friends who were not affected by the storm so that they may find a safe spot to evacuate.
  • Assist them in ensuring that their gas tanks are full and that they have a hurricane evacuation kit in their vehicle.
Check-in on them
  • Check-in on your neighbors after the hurricane passes, when it is safe to do so. Assure them that you are safe and find out how they endured the storm.
  • Ensure that they are comfortable and that they have any emergency numbers or supplies that they might need.
  • Continue to check in every few days if possible.

Check this YouTube video to learn more:

7. Create an Emergency Communication Plan

You might not be together when emergencies strike, so plan ahead of time how you’ll reconnect when separated.

State Assistance Information Line

The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) is a toll-free hotline activated at the time of an emergency to provide an additional resource for those in Florida to receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding an emergency or disaster situation impacting the State of Florida.

The SAIL hotline is: 1-800-342-3557.

The SAIL hotline is only operational during an emergency event; at all other times, a recorded message with general information about the hotline is available.

When facing a disaster, you always have to prepare and minimize the impacts on you and your household. Always keep yourself calm and rational in every step you take when evacuating or weathering a storm.

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