Hurricane Season 2022: A Survival Guide

MIAMI – Get ready, Florida. The most dreaded time of the year (after Tax Day) is here: Hurricane season. It officially starts June 1 (though it unofficially started in May) and runs through Nov. 30.

Forecasters expect this will be another “above average” season, although it hopefully won’t be as bad as 2020, when COVID took off and a record-breaking number of storms zigzagged through the Atlantic.

Before you make jokes about hosting a hurricane party or dusting off your favorite storm memes, it’s time for some real talk: Tropical storms and hurricanes are dangerous, damage property and can be deadly. A tropical storm has a maximum sustained wind speed of 39 to 73 mph. If it becomes a hurricane, it will be rated based on its maximum sustained wind speed using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which classifies hurricanes as Category 1 (74-95 mph winds) up to Cat 5 (157 mph or higher).

All are dangerous. A storm’s greatest threat is storm surge.

The good news is that as technology has improved, forecasters have become better at tracking a storm’s path, giving us time to prepare or leave an area.

Florida has one of the strictest building codes in the country. (A result of Hurricane Andrew’s 1992 devastation). But your safety is first.

Whether you’re a newbie to the region or a longtime Floridian, here’s your hurricane preparation guide:

What are the 2022 hurricane season storm names?

Some of the names on last year’s hurricane list reminded people of Disney’s “Frozen.” This year’s 2022 list has a few names that might make you think of Beauty and the Beast, Kim Possible and Shrek.

Here are the names:

Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin, Nicole, Owen, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie, Walter.

Potterheads, take note, while Hermine might make you think of Hermione from Harry Potter, the spelling is different.

Before storms are forecast

You should do a few things even before a storm is in the forecast:

Start prepping your hurricane kit. Each person in your home should have canned and/or nonperishable food for at least seven days and at least one gallon of water per person. Make sure you have enough food and water for your pet, too.

Your kit should also include flashlights, a battery-operated or cranked radio, cash, a first-aid kit, medicine.

TIP: Don’t wait until a storm is coming to stock up. Start buying items little by little ahead of time. That way you can shop around for bargains and have time to find items that are hard to find, like baby formula, due to shortages.

Also, only buy food you eat. This way, if a storm doesn’t come, it won’t go to waste.

Inspect your shutters, roof and fences in case repairs or replacements are needed. Start pruning your trees, too.

If you have home and flood insurance, check that your policies are current and if you have sufficient coverage for hurricane season.

Check to see if you live in an evacuation zone and discuss possible evacuation routes with your family.

In Miami-Dade, check your zone at miamidade.gov/hurricane. In Broward, visit broward.org/hurricane. In the Florida Keys, visit monroecounty-fl.gov/897/Evacuation-Information. If you’re planning to spend the storm elsewhere in Florida, the Florida Division of Emergency Management has online maps you can refer to for all 67 counties.

If a tropical storm or hurricane is coming

If a tropical storm or hurricane is forecast, here’s how to prepare:

Fuel up your car, charge your power banks, withdraw cash, buy supplies (food, water, medicine, etc.) you still need.

Bring your patio furniture, pets and potted plants inside. Tie down anything that could become airborne. If you have a boat, secure it properly.

Monitor local news for updates from the National Hurricane Center, your local National Weather Service office and local officials on the storm’s track, what type of hazards to expect and if there are any evacuation orders in effect.

Get sandbags.

Find a safe place to park your car.

Put your shutters up and don’t leave trash on the curb. If you don’t have shutters or hurricane-proof windows, board up your windows with 5/8-inch plywood. Do NOT tape your windows. It doesn’t work.

During the storm

The storm has arrived, the power’s out and your kids are making shadow puppets with the flashlight. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do:

  • Keep your hurricane kit nearby at all times and try to stay in a room with few or no windows.
  • Don’t take a bath or shower during the storm, Miami-Dade County says. Lightning can travel through plumbing. Plus, if there’s an emergency, no one wants to see you in your birthday suit.
  • Don’t use your generator during the storm, even if you lose power. Generators and rain are a bad combo. Wait for the storm to pass before turning it on.
  • Don’t leave your house during the storm. Forecasters will say when it’s safe to do so. And remember, don’t let the eye of the hurricane or tropical storm deceive you. While it might seem calm, things can quickly change. The winds surrounding the center of the storm are the strongest.
  • If your home begins to fall apart, get in the tub and pull a mattress over yourself to protect from debris, Miami-Dade County says.

After the storm

The worst is over, the storm is gone and you need a drink. There’s still a few things to do first:

  • Report property damage and power outages.
  • Monitor for curfew and boil-water-order notices. Also, keep an eye out for price gouging.
  • If you want to use a generator, make sure to keep it at least 20 feet from a home, including your neighbors, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use it indoors, including in your garage. If you live in an apartment, use a battery-powered generator or portable power station.
  • Put the shutters away, bring your patio furniture out again and start any yard/backyard cleanup.
  • If you plan to go out (maybe to seek air conditioning, a hot meal or to check on grandma) be careful on the roads. There might be downed trees, fallen power lines, traffic lights that aren’t working and debris. Some roads might also be flooded. Do not drive or walk through standing water.

OK, now you can kick back and relax. At least until the next storm comes.

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