Posted By: Envision2bWell, Inc
By Vanessa Bautista
Born in the Big Apple and raised in the Sunshine State, oh how I miss experiencing all four seasons! The move from New York City to Florida brought about many new challenges for my parents, especially adjusting to the new climate, seasons (or lack thereof), and weather patterns.
For me personally, my understanding of the importance of Hurricane/Disaster Preparedness began with Hurricane Charley, which was the first of four separate hurricanes to impact Florida during 2004, followed by Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. I was in college at the time and having to live without electricity or hot water, while juggling college courses and work, was an experience to say the least.
Hurricane Charley was one of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the United States. I learned the hard way about the value of being prepared for natural disasters that year. With everything that has happened over the past year, and with hurricane season having just begun, I wanted to pass along my hard-earned knowledge about how to properly prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster.
A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters. A tropical cyclone is a rotating low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms yet no fronts (which is a boundary separating two air masses of different densities). Tropical cyclones that have maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph) are called tropical depressions. Those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms. When a storm's maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is then called a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating, or category, based on a hurricane's maximum sustained winds. So essentially, the higher the category, the stronger the hurricane is, making it more destructive and deadly.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30. In the United States, we are more affected by the Atlantic hurricane season because the Pacific hurricanes don't typically make landfall on the West Coast. This is due to the fact that the waters near California, Oregon and Washington don't reach optimal temperatures for hurricanes to occur. Hurricanes need warm, moist air to form and grow. The Atlanctic hurricanes, on the other hand, greatly impact our East Coast states.
Top 10 states Impacted by Hurricanes in 2020:
1.) Florida: 121 (with 37 major hurricanes)
2.) Texas: 67 (with 19 major hurricanes)
3.) Louisiana: 58 (with 18 major hurricanes)
4.) North Carolina: 57 (with 7 major hurricanes)
5.) South Carolina: 30 (with 5 major hurricanes)
6.) Alabama: 26 (with 5 major hurricanes)
7.) Georgia: 22 (with 3 major hurricanes)
8.) Mississippi: 19 (with 8 major hurricanes)
9.) New York: 15 (with 3 major hurricanes)
10.) Massachusetts: 12 (with 1 major hurricane)
Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are the only three states that have been hit by a Category 5 hurricane, and there have only been three Category 5 hurricanes in recorded history.
In Florida alone, research has tracked a staggering 121 hurricanes with 37 major hurricanes. I can attest it is of the utmost importance to prepare in ADVANCE prior to June 1 each year. Even if you never end up using the supplies you have gathered in preparation, it is important to know and be aware that Florida has a hurricane preparedness dates in your state/region where specific hurricane related items are TAX FREE.
Did you know that states offer a Tax-Free Holiday for disaster preparedness? Here is an excerpt from the Florida Senate. I definitely advise checking if your state offers something similar.
The legislation creates a 10-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday from May 28 to June 6, 2021, for disaster preparedness supplies. Some examples of tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $40 or less; radios costing $50 or less; tarps costing $100 or less, coolers costing $60 or less, batteries costing $50 or less; and, generators costing $1,000 or less.
If you have already taken advantage of this or other “disaster preparedness” sales tax holidays, great job on preparing early! But if you missed it or were not even aware it existed, you are not alone!
Here are two upcoming tax-free holidays in Florida and the supplies that can help you to fill the gaps in your hurricane preparedness in July & August. If you do not live in Florida, check and see if your state offers other tax-free holidays such as these too!
- Any and all outdoor / camping gear!
- Crack radios
- Camping grills/stoves
- Flashlights flares
- You get the point!
It also covers general supplies for outdoor activities like boating, camping, and sports so get all your outdoor camping supplies during this week too!
You'll get a sales tax break on clothing items, backpacks and footwear that are $60 or less, school supplies $15 or less, and the first $1,000 of a personal computer purchase and related items. During this tax-free holiday, I purchase items such as backpacks to fill with supplies for each family member, including pets, chargers and footwear. Although the official Atlantic hurricane season spans the months of June through November, September is the most common month for hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. In other words – YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO GET PREPARED!
My own eye-opening experience of the devastating power of hurricanes came in 2017. I was 6 months pregnant and my dad had recently come to live with me and my husband after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. On the morning of Sept. 10th, 2017, Hurricane Irma hit Florida as a Category 4 storm with 110 miles per hour winds. Roofs were ripped from houses, coastal cities flooded, and the power was knocked out of more than 6.8 million homes.
Even though Irma weakened significantly the next day, bumping down to a tropical storm as it turned north toward Georgia and Alabama, our home remained without power for upwards of 7 days. We were exploring options to stay at nearby hotel when a family I worked with generously loaned us their unused generator. While the 7 days without power was nothing compared to the devastation others faced, it reinforced the lesson I learned in 2004 to always prepare ahead of time. After that year, I started creating our Dunn Family Hurricane Safety Kits. (Dunn is my husband's surname, FYI.) If I never use the hurricane kits, that's a good thing. However, I rest much easier knowing my family is prepared for just about any disaster.
Here are the Dunn Family Hurricane Preparedness Tips. I hope you find it useful as quick guide.
- Emergency Food
- Non-perishable foods/canned goods
- 6-month supply
First Aid Kits/Medication
- Extra Food/Treats
- Updated Vaccines
- Updated microchips
Other important Tips
- Review homeowners insurance olicies
- Gather important documents
- Purchase a waterproof and fireproof travel file cabinet
- Keep baby and kids items separate
1.) A generator switch attached to your breaker
2.) A generator. (We plan to upgrade our small generator, it can power our hurricane room - 20x20 - which includes a portable AC unit, a small fridge, a coffe pot, and 10-1 appliance.)
3.) Hurricane kit on wheels:
- Camping mini propane task
- 5-gallon collapsible water baths (4)
- Crank radio
- First Aid Kits
- Power Cords
- Electrical power strip
- Bungie cords
- Collapsible space saving cooler
- Battery case with tester
- Regular and rechargeable batteries
- Solar phone battery packs
- Camping grils
- 50-gallon drums with water tables (2)
For more information, here is the Red Cross hurricane safety checklist and the National Hurricane Survival Initiative checklist. If you need to leave home for shelter, here is a list of essential items to bring from FloridaDisaster.org.
Although hurricanes don't affect everyone, anyone can find themselves in a tough spot due to other natural disasters. Many of the tips and list items are applicable for disasters other than hurricanes. It is my sincere hope that you don't learn the hard way like I did, or the heartbreaking way like those who lost loved ones have. Take advantage of any upcoming tax holidays and invest in being prepared. Trust me, it's good money spent!
About the Author
Vanessa Bautista, Account Executive at Envision2bWell, is an Advent Health Alumna with clinical experience in neurological disorders and a focus on whole person healthcare. She is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) - Certified Exercise Physiologist, with a distinction of Exercise is Medicine EIM® Level II.
A former National Fitness Presenter and West Coast Sales Account Executive for meaningful movement curriculum, her drive and passion for wellness was the catalyst in her search for a mission-driven, global health company whose goal is to mitigate health disparities. Vanessa is proud to be a part of the Envision2bWell team and support global health technology initiatives to democratize 360° Well-Being™.
Vanessa resides in Central Florida with her husband, daughter and fur pup Maximus and makes a point to assist/help and educate herself, her family and community about FL disaster preparedness.
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