Each year June marks the beginning of hurricane season. What can you do to better prepare?
(Blog written by MIDFLORIDA Credit Union and originally posted on June 8, 2021 on the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Website* and reproduced with permission)
Safeguard your Finances
Although we do our best to stay operational during natural disasters, flooding and/or power outages can cause branch closures and ATM outages, making it important for you to keep emergency cash on hand. We also recommend diversifying the denominations of currency for your emergency cash stockpile. Remember, if you are having difficulty acquiring cash, businesses likely are as well. As a result, you may have trouble trying to break larger bills.
As we mentioned in a previous article about hurricane preparedness, we recommend gathering up important documents. Simply knowing where these documents are is key to preparing for any disaster, especially in the event of an evacuation. Take some time before the next storm is on the horizon to collect and secure the following documents:
- Social security cards, military IDs, birth certificates, passports, and/or copies of driver licenses for all members of your household
- Copies of all insurance policies and/or cards (homeowners, auto, health, and life)
- Property tax statements and copies of your latest utility bills (these may be needed if you apply for FEMA assistance)
- Contact information for your household members’ physicians and pharmacies
- Immunization records for all members of your household
- Contact information for all financial institutions where you hold accounts. You can reach MIDFLORIDA’s Help Desk at (863) 688-3733 or toll free at (866) 913-3733. Help Desk is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but please note that this could change in the event that our facilities are affected by a storm.
- Your MIDFLORIDA routing and checking account numbers
Prepare your Property
Typically, the first concern people have during hurricane season is about their property, and rightfully so! According to CNN, Hurricane Irma alone caused $50 billion in damage and resulted in the evacuation of more than six million Florida residences in 2017. Planning ahead can go a long way in safeguarding your property and expediting the process or repair work should it be warranted.
As mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to review and store any insurance policies you carry (home, auto, flood, etc.). Additionally, think about performing preventative maintenance. Trimming and removing suspect tree/tree limbs may help avoid having to use these policies at all, saving you from unwanted stress (and from paying a deductible).
Purchasing items like candles, wood, charcoal, lighter fluid and/or propane will all help keep your homestead functional in the event of a power outage, providing you the ability to cook food and boil water. Speaking of water, remember that a toilet does not need power to operate. As long as you have a few gallons of extra water you can flush a toilet. Hint: save money and resources by using collected rain water, not drinking water.
Protect your Family
Above all else, the most important thing to protect is your family. Finances are recoverable and property is replaceable; people are not. Consider the essentials your family (including pets) would need in the event of an emergency (or eventual evacuation). Items like non-perishable food, water, medicine, flashlights, a radio and batteries are the most obvious.
Finally, plan for the worst: Consider all evacuation route possibilities and have a plan in place. Jumping on the interstate will likely not be the best option, so try to chart an alternate course that includes highways and local streets to avoid the rush. Admittedly, many people don’t consider the condition of the vehicle(s) they plan on relying on in the event of evacuation. Be sure to check the condition of your tires tread and pressure (remember the spare!), wiper blades, engine oil, and coolant. It is obviously ideal to have extra gasoline, but do NOT store containers of fuel (empty or full) within the cabin or trunk of your vehicle.
We suggest visiting FloridaDisaster.org to learn more about Hurricane preparation. Additionally, they provide an excellent Disaster Supply Kit checklist here: https://www.floridadisaster.org/Kit