Last week, the US Virgin Islands and the State of Florida took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. I have lived in South Florida for 29 years and have been through 5 major hurricanes, but this one seemed different. The news reports were saying South Florida (where I live) was going to experience winds up to 185 miles per hour. As we watched the news, my husband said he was going to secure the house and we were going to evacuate. I was relieved as this was going to be a huge storm and I was scared. Being disabled, I could not help with the preparations outside but did what I could do inside our home. Our goal was to leave early so we could stay ahead of the traffic as others (tens of thousands) decided they would do the same thing. We were on the road 4 days before the storm was to make landfall in the Florida Keys. In this weeks, Nurse Advocate, I wanted to share what I learned from this experience.
1. Plan ahead and heed the official warnings: The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the peak period from early August through the end of October. During this time, newspapers provide checklists that help people know how to prepare before any hurricane materializes. As we know, it is better to prepare before a hurricane is on the way. Once the word goes out, people begin to panic, rush to the stores to buy supplies and purchase gas for their cars and generators. Those who have experienced a major hurricane, realize the work that goes into preparing for a hurricane. Taking the time to get your house and supplies in order will help you avoid the rush and the panic.
8. Find Shelters where you can be safe. If you decide to stay and wait out the storm, find out where the shelters are, so if you need help, you can get it. I have an Aunt who lives on the west coast of Florida. She is in her mid-80s and very active. She said she was staying put in her home as she did not know where else to go. I urged her to find out where the shelter was and to secure a spot just in case. it was good she did, as the storm turned at the last minute and put her area into an evacuation zone. She and her son did go to a shelter and were safe as a result.
I talked to two friends of mine who rode out the Irma at their homes in South Florida. One was in South Miami and the other in Tamarac Fl. Both said they had transistor radios that were battery operated that really helped them during the storm, especially with the Tornado warnings. When the warnings came, they would move to a walk-in closet and wait for the all clear. They said these were scary and nerve-wracking as they did not know what to expect. The radio's helped as it kept them connected especially after the power went out.