How To Stay One Step Ahead of Severe Weather Hazards

Looking at pictures of the rushing lava and billowing ash in Hawaii, you might be feeling thankful that hurricanes are our main foe in Florida! When compared to volcanoes in Hawaii, earthquakes in California, or snowstorms in New England, you might even think we’re lucky to have storms that give us a few weeks of warning.

But all the natural disasters that the United States has faced in the past year, from winter cyclones to raging wildfires to monstrous hurricanes, are a reminder of the importance of preparation, no matter where you live.

Know What To Expect

The first step of preparation is knowing what kind of events you’re likely to experience in your area. Floridians, for example, know to expect tropical storms and hurricanes between June and November, while people in the Midwest know that their flat lands make them susceptible to tornadoes. Some weather events, like hurricanes, mostly occur during a specific season. Others, like landslides or earthquakes, can happen randomly or be caused by other events. Know what to expect and if possible, when to expect it—this can help you plan ahead.

Of course, how you plan depends heavily on what kind of natural disaster or weather event you are preparing for. You can’t prepare for a fire and a flood in the exact same way! Still, there are some steps of planning that pertain to most events.

What’s Your Emergency Plan?

According to, a great website for disaster preparedness, the first step is coming up with a general emergency plan. They suggest getting together with all family members and going over basic-but-critical questions like:

  • How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is my shelter plan?
  • What is my evacuation route?
  • Do we have a household communication plan?

Consider any family members with special needs, including children, elderly people, or people who require medical treatment. And don’t forget about pets! Everyone in the household should be familiar with the plan and it should be written down and kept in an accessible place, like on the kitchen fridge.

Stocking Up

The next step is putting together an emergency kit. For seasonal events, like hurricanes or snowstorms, emergency kits can be put together in the months before the expected season. For random events, like volcanoes, families should always have emergency supplies on hand. Either way, it never hurts to always have emergency supplies ready to go at any point of the year.

An emergency kit should include things like:

  • One gallon of water per person per day, with at least a three day’s supply
  • Non-perishable food
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone charger
  • Wrench, pliers, and other tools
  • Whistle
  • Moist towelettes
  • Garbage bags

You will also want to pack supplies that pertain to your household situation. For example, have a supply of any necessary prescription medication or pack games and coloring books to amuse children during a power outage. Important family documents, like passports and insurance paperwork, are another important thing to have in an accessible place in case of emergency or the need for a sudden evacuation.

What you keep in your emergency kit will depend on your specific situation, but the above list is a great place to start.

Where To Go

If possible, you should also prepare your home for an upcoming weather event. This step is especially pertinent to Floridians, who typically have time to guard their home against an incoming storm. For hurricanes and other storms, home preparation might include things like trimming tree branches, securing rain gutters, and removing any potential projectiles, like lawn chairs, from outside. For events that might occur suddenly, such as earthquakes, be aware of any warning signs and do what you can to prepare your home, though personal safety should come first.

Finally, you should come up with an evacuation plan. Some conditions from a weather event or natural disaster, like flooding or volcanic ash, might make it unsafe to stay in your area. In this case, you might need to evacuate to a different area or a shelter that protects against harsh conditions.  If you are ordered to evacuate, do so as soon as possible. Do not try to “wait it out” or ignore the warnings because you think it is not going to be too bad. In many cases, evacuation can make the difference between life and death.

Well before an evacuation order is issued, have a designated evacuation spot. Research local shelters in advance to find one that fits your needs. Have a few options in mind.

Are You Ready?

If you have to evacuate, bring your emergency supply kit with you and let an out-of-state friend or family member know where you are going. If driving, follow the recommended route and do not try to take shortcuts, as roads could be closed or dangerously flooded. Make sure you have plenty of gas before you head out, so fuel could become scare along the crowded roads.

No matter where you live, extreme weather is always a possibility—your area just determines if it’s more likely to be a blizzard or a volcano! Know what to expect and plan ahead, so you’ll always be ready to face whatever nature brings your way.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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