Today many Facebook feeds are celebrating the beginning of June, the unofficial summer kickoff. However, native Floridians like myself see it a bit differently. For Floridians and the rest of the Southeastern coastal and Gulf states, it is the beginning of Hurricane Season. I suspect today’s uneasy feeling in my stomach is felt as far away as the shores of Long Island. With today’s technology, we are able to do a pretty good job in tracking hurricanes, but lately even the forecasters and computer models have been shocked. With climate change bringing colder winters and hotter summers, many of our old ideas about hurricanes are being overturned. We never know what is going to happen between now and November 30th. What can you do to be ready for anything? Prepare ahead.
Between May 31 – June 8, 2014 Florida is having a statewide Hurricane Preparation Tax Vacation. For a few more days, you can save a lot of money while buying the vital items you and your family will need in the event that a hurricane or tropical storm hits. Items that can be purchased tax-free include (for full list see above document):
- Portable self-powered light source selling for $20 or less
- Portable self-powered radio, two way radio or weather band radio selling for $50 or less
- A tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting selling for $50 or less
- A self-contained first aid kit selling for $30 or less
- A ground anchor system or tie-down kit selling for $50 or less
- A gas or diesel fuel tank selling for $25 or less
- A package of AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6 volt, or 9 volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, selling for $30 or less
- A non-electric food storage cooler selling for $30 or less
- A portable generator that is used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage selling for $750 or less
- Reusable ice selling for $10 or less a
Once you have purchased any necessary items above this week, start to think about your personal needs. While hurricane season doesn’t generally heat up until the later summer months, it’s always best to be ready. Generally speaking, you should have enough food, water, medicine, and emergency supplies per person for a minimum of three days. For those who recall summer of 2004, when Hurricane Frances stalled hurricanes right over Palm Beach County, we’ll prepare for seven days, thank you. For a complete list of shelters, important phone numbers, and a list of essential hurricane supplies, visit the Palm Beach County Hurricane Preparedness website.
I remember putting masking tape across all the windows we couldn’t possible board up before Hurricane Andrew when I was barely in elementary school. (PS: Don’t do that, a few hurricane seasons later they realized it did nothing except waste tape.) In subsequent years, everyone had a job to do in the house. Pick up toys from the backyard, vacuum the safe room, help make sure every flashlight had batteries and worked. As an adult, I can see just how invaluable preparing for hurricane season is before there is anything coming off the coast of Africa. I hand wrote the draft essays for my college applications during Hurricane Frances. No matter how hot it was in the house, or how much I didn’t want another can of anything, the fact that there was no emergency rush to get ready made sitting it out that much easier. Girl Scout or not, be prepared. There is no reason not to.
Happy Hurricane Season, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Rachel Wacks is a Foundation Fellow with the Women’s Foundation of Palm Beach County.