News Columns & Blogs

Hurricane season just ahead

It does not seem possible but in less than 60 days hurricane season will be here once again. We have been very fortunate for the last four years and I’m hoping that 2010 will be more of the same. The problem is that we cannot count on our luck to hold forever. Many people have survived hurricanes without any harm, and with modern technology, it almost seems that the path of a hurricane can be mapped out perfectly.

But don’t be so sure. In 2004, Hurricane Charley was headed directly for our area. It took a turn and impacted Charlotte County. That just goes to show you that all the technology in the world cannot predict what Mother Nature will do. It’s important to pay attention not to just the black line forecasters use for the storm track but also the area on either side of it. The average error during the last 24 hours is about 85 miles, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

There are steps that you can take now to plan, prepare and protect your property before the next storm. A hurricane plan should involve everyone in the family including your pets. The first decision you will make is deciding whether you will stay or go. Much of this will depend on the severity of the storm as well as the type of dwelling you live in and where that dwelling is located. When a hurricane threatens, decide if your family will move to a safer place inland, go to a designated shelter or ride out the storm in your home. Make sure you stay in touch with local authorities to know the severity of the hurricane. You also should plan an escape route in case your family needs to evacuate. Be careful to act promptly to prevent from being stranded on the open highway or stuck in a traffic jam.

Preparing for an emergency involves putting together a survival kit. It should include non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight, fresh batteries and drinking water. It also should include other items you might need such as medication, prescription glasses and your insurance information. To ensure your home is prepared, cover up windows and doors using hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, cover your windows and doors with 3/4-inch plywood. Make sure your garage door is closed and anchored. Keeping the wind and debris out of your home will prevent serious hurricane damage to you and your property.

Make sure you protect you and your family if you decide to stay in your home during a hurricane. Stay inside and away from windows or glass doors. Having as many walls between you and the outside is very important. Find a room within your home that will be safe. Since most of us do not have basements, go to a closet or a bathroom. If you do leave your home, make sure you go directly to the shelter. Take your survival kit and lock all doors and windows before you go. Keep in contact with your relatives and friends and let them know where you plan to be.

Those who have a hurricane plan do much better than those who don’t. Taking a moment to plan today may help you avoid last-minute panic. It could save your home and your family.

Wayne Scroggins, president and owner of Scroggins Insurance Agency, 6505 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, can be reached at (941) 795-1500.