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6 Month Hurricane Season starts Tomorrow!

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – May 31, 2013 – Florida has experience with natural disasters, and University of Florida (UF) storm-preparation expert Mike Spranger says that’s a good reason for Floridians to spend time planning for emergencies.

Spranger worked with colleagues to adapt a handbook for Floridians. Called the “Florida Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards,” it’s free and available online.

The 140-page guide does more than suggest an amount of water and batteries to have on hand if a hurricane threatens. It spends about 50 pages explaining how to prepare a home in the short term and how to boost its ability to withstand high winds long before any make landfall. It not only explains how to install plywood shutters, for example, it talks about the material to use, fasteners to consider and different methods of installation.

According to Spranger, Florida residents should have a storm supply of three days’ worth of nonperishable food and a five-day water supply (one gallon per person per day) if a hurricane is expected. An even better goal, he suggests: a five- to seven-day supply of nonperishable food and a seven-day water supply of three gallons per person per day.

“The very most important things people want after storms are water and ice – and that’s the very first thing that’s going to be in short supply,” Spranger says.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, but the 140-page handbook reminds readers that hurricanes and tropical storms can form earlier and later.

The handbook has many tips and suggestions for Floridians, such as keeping spare cash handy in case ATMs aren’t working, hanging onto at least one hardwire telephone in case cellular service goes out, keeping your gas tank full, and specific ways to shore up windows, doors and garage doors (Interesting fact: about 80 percent of wind damage to homes starts with wind entering the garage).

Also included are reminders to have a plan for pets since most emergency shelters won’t accept them; keep prescriptions filled and copies of them in a waterproof box or folder, along with one’s other important documents such as birth records, insurance policies and records of home valuables; as well as suggestions for storing sentimental items like family photos, digitally, in case a home computer or other electronic gadgets are destroyed.

“Even if you get this handbook and only implement a few of the ideas, you’ll be ahead of most people,” Spranger says. “These are all relatively easy things that don’t cost you anything, except time.”

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

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