Before the Storm

The forecast for the 2016 hurricane season is out, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The season, which begins June 1 and ends November 30, has a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms. Of these storms, 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including as many as 4 so serious that they could be classified as a Category 3, 4 or 5. However, the official forecasters have admitted that there is some uncertainty in this outlook because it is unclear whether a few key climate influences will end up supporting or hindering tropical storm development. Regardless, even a near-normal prediction still translates into more hurricane activity than the last three below-normal years – and it only takes one storm to change your life.

To minimize that impact and keep your family safe, the No. 1 thing you can do is to prepare. Making a plan in advance of severe weather can be the difference between life and death. When a hurricane is heading your way, there’s a lot to do in a short amount of time, and everyone around you is also trying to accomplish the same objective – often putting a strain on critical supplies. Of course, it’s very possible that not everything will go smoothly even with a plan, but addressing a few glitches is much easier in the moment than developing an entire course of action in the face of an impending storm.

Don’t Forget About Your Pets!

These family members are safest with you, so take them to your meeting spot. Never leave them behind to fend for themselves – it could be weeks before you are allowed to return. If you have to utilize an evacuation center, Miami-Dade offers pet owners residing in qualified evacuation zones, unsafe structures, or mobile homes the opportunity to participate in Pet-Friendly Evacuation Centers (PEC). Dogs and cats must be current on their rabies shots, and dogs must be licensed. PECs also accept birds, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats and small-sized rabbits.

Make sure your pet has an easy-to-read ID tag on their collar, crate, cage, etc.

Check out this Disaster Preparedness Animal Supplies Checklist for more information.

Develop a family communications plan so you can send and receive information, especially since communication networks and electricity may be disrupted during a hurricane. Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family, doctors, schools, veterinarians, daycares, and utility providers. Include someone outside of your community or state who can act as a central connection point and who will be unaffected if local phone lines are jammed. Give everyone a copy to carry and post a copy on your fridge. Make sure the info is in your cell phone too, and remember that texting may work even when voice calls do not.

Identify emergency meeting places, because not everyone may be home or accessible when it becomes clear that a damaging hurricane is on its way. Choose familiar places that can accommodate family members with disabilities and pets if you have any. Pick a spot in your home where everyone can go for protection, a neighborhood spot in case you cannot get to your home, and a spot outside your neighborhood in case your community is evacuated. Find out where the nearest Hurricane Evacuation Centers are and the different ways you can get there, but they should be considered only as a last resort. Practice drills on getting to your chosen spots without relying on GPS technology.

Put together an emergency supply kit. Use coupons, sales, and buying in bulk with others to save money. Pack an easy-to-carry container with a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, first-aid items, a set of multi-purpose tools, copies of personal documents, cell phone chargers, extra cash, prescription medicines, and enough water and non-perishable food for each person for three days.

You may also wish to stockpile materials such as plastic and plywood to secure your home, keep trees and bushes trimmed to minimize damage, and document your possessions for insurance purposes.

Even though the official hurricane season has begun, there is still plenty of time for potential activity. NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August. Take a few moments now to prepare. When the next major hurricane comes, you’ll be glad you did.

If you are trying to put your life back together after a hurricane or have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski Law As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, we have helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies for over 45 years. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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