New Handbook Guides Floridians Through Natural Disasters

hurricaneEven though Florida’s 2013 hurricane season is just days old, it’s not too early to devise a family emergency plan for handling whatever Mother Nature throws this way—just in case.

A great place to start is using a new, 140-page guide, the  “Florida Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards,” tailored for state residents by the University of Florida/ Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. It is free and available online by clicking  here.

Mike Spranger, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor in family, youth and community sciences, worked with colleagues in Florida to adapt a Gulf of Mexico states-oriented handbook for Floridians.

At a minimum, Spranger says, Florida residents ought to have a storm supply of three days’ worth of nonperishable food and a five-day water supply (one gallon per person per day). An even better goal, he suggests in a release announcing the handbook, would be to have a five- to seven-day supply of nonperishable food and a seven-day water supply of three gallons per person per day, which allows enough water for hand-washing, cooking and other needs.

The handbook has tons of other tips and suggestions for Floridians, such as:

  • Keep spare cash on hand in case ATMs aren’t working
  • Hang on to at least one hard wire telephone, in case cell service goes out
  • Keep your gas tank full
  • Look at ways to shore up windows, doors and garage doors—about 80 percent of wind damage starts with wind entering the garage
  • Don’t forget to stock up on matches, disposable plates and utensils, and on pet supplies.

The handbook also talks about the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is the official source of natural hazard information in the state, and it lists the participating local radio stations–for example, in Maitland, 540 AM and in Orlando—92.3 FM.

It also suggests ways to strengthen a house, making it important to know when your house was built. For example, houses built after the early to mid-990’s should have hurricane clips to tie the roof to the wall and strong connectors from the wall to the foundation.

“Even if you get this handbook and only implement a few of the ideas, you’ll be ahead of most people,” Spranger said. “These are all relatively easy things that don’t cost you anything, except time.”