Hurricane Idalia, a rapidly intensifying storm, is on a direct path toward Florida, with landfall expected between 6 and 9 a.m. ET today, just south of Perry. This powerful storm has escalated to a Category 4 hurricane and shows no signs of weakening. With maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and even higher gusts, Idalia poses an extreme danger to the region. Experts warn of extensive storm surge damage, stretching approximately 200 miles along Florida’s west coast, beyond the Tampa Bay area. The Big Bend area could experience a staggering 12 to 16 feet of storm surge. The National Weather Service in Tallahassee cautions that certain locations may become uninhabitable for weeks or even months due to wind damage, while storm surges could hinder access.
Given the grave circumstances, here is some essential info and practical advice on how to safeguard yourself and your loved ones during Hurricane Idalia. From creating an emergency kit to establishing communication plans, we’ll cover all you need to know to navigate this challenging situation with confidence.
Keep up to date with the latest news reports from your local authorities, listen to the radio, and watch the TV news. Social media sites like Twitter can also be a vital source of information. Many state and city government agencies have Twitter accounts and will provide up-to-date information on storm preparations and evacuations. Follow accounts like the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service. Having a phone charger or backup battery is also essential in case of a power outage.
Your evacuation plan may change at a moment’s notice due to the unpredictable nature of hurricanes. Make sure you have current and up-to-date information at all times.
Visit weather.gov/twitter for a full list of National Weather Service handles.
Your emergency kit should include enough supplies to last for at least three days, such as non-perishable food, bottled water, a first aid kit, an AM radio, flashlights, extra batteries, and medication. You should also include important documents, such as your driver’s license, insurance information, and any other important papers.
Determine the nearest evacuation shelter and the safest way to get there. It’s best to evacuate before the storm arrives or as soon as the authorities give a mandatory evacuation order.
If you are unable to evacuate, take shelter in a safe place in your home, such as a room without windows.
Make sure to secure any loose items, such as patio furniture, and cover your windows with plywood or storm shutters to prevent them from shattering. It is also a good idea to turn off your gas if you are instructed to do so. If you own a generator, make sure it’s ready to go if and when it needs to be used.
Make sure that you have enough food, water, and medication for your pets to last at least three days. Keep your pet close by on a leash. Staying in an enclosed area such as a bathroom can help them feel more safe and secure during the storm.
All the preparation and planning in the world won’t make a hurricane any less stressful or scary. Remember to take deep breaths and remain calm as much as possible. This will help you make good decisions in emergencies. Follow official guidance and warnings from your local authorities.
For senior adults and family caregivers, this can be a scary and overwhelming situation to find yourself in. While it’s always better to evacuate if possible, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your home if you’re unable to evacuate. Here are some quick tips to help keep you safe and prepared if you can’t evacuate during Hurricane Idalia.
Keep your emergency kit close by. Be sure you have enough non-perishable food items, drinking water, and medications. Check that your windows and doors are secure, and turn off your gas. Have a flashlight, radio, and extra batteries on hand in case you lose power.
Designate a safety room in your home where you can ride out the storm. Choose a room with no windows, preferably in the center of your home. Stock this room with your emergency supplies, and consider adding extra padding to the walls to protect you from flying debris. Have a battery-operated radio, cellphone, and other means of communication in your safe room to stay informed.
Keep up-to-date with the latest news and weather reports, so you know what to expect during the storm. Have a phone or tablet charged and ready to go, so you can stay connected to emergency alerts and updates. Additionally, make sure you have a list of emergency contacts and local resources, like the non-emergency police number and your area’s emergency management office. Check a little further back in this article for all of the National Weather Service’s Twitter accounts.
If you’re unable to prepare your home or ride out the storm on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to family, friends, or neighbors who may be able to assist you. If you’re a family caregiver, make sure your loved ones have a support system in place and know who to contact in case of an emergency.
During a hurricane, the safest place to be is inside your home. Stay away from windows, doors, and exterior walls that could break or collapse due to high winds and debris. It’s also essential to stay hydrated and avoid using tap water if there’s a risk of contamination. If you have a gas-powered generator, never use it inside your home or garage, as it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Avoid going outside, as flying debris, downed power lines, and other hazards can cause serious injury or even death.
Even if you can’t evacuate your home, there might be situations when you need to move to a safer location, such as if there’s a severe flood or structural damage to your home. Always be ready to evacuate if necessary, and have a backup plan in case your original plan fails. Keep your hurricane supplies ready to go in case you need to leave quickly, and have a pre-determined meeting location in case you get separated from your family.
In the aftermath of the storm, it’s important to stay safe and be cautious. Stay indoors until you receive an official notice that it’s safe to go outside. Use extreme caution when inspecting damage to your home, and be aware of downed power lines and other hazards. If you need assistance or medical attention, contact local authorities or a nearby hospital.
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Originally published August 30, 2023