Hurricane season is here, and the forecast track shows Dorian, a Category 4 hurricane, making landfall in Florida on Labor Day.
Residents are asked to start hurricane preparations, if they haven’t already, and to listen to local media, government and weather offices for updates regarding the storm, supplies and any potential evacuations.
But, this is Florida.
People don’t always follow directions. So, here are the most common misconceptions people have before, during and after a storm:
I need to buy all the food and water I can find
While it’s always good to have an emergency stash, you don’t need to break the bank. FEMA and other experts suggest having at least a gallon of water per person for three days for drinking and sanitation purposes (you can use water to flush the toilet).
You also don’t necessarily need to buy bottled water. Before the storm, use your tap water to fill empty, clean water bottles or other containers you may already have around the house.
In terms of food, it’s typically recommended to have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
Taping your windows makes them stronger
No, it doesn’t. Flying debris can still break your window and if it’s taped, the broken pieces may be larger and deadlier, according to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Better to have a window break into small pieces that won’t cause potential great bodily harm. Plus, it’s a pain to remove sun-baked tape on a window.
My area isn’t in the ‘cone of uncertainty,’ so I’m safe.
The cone indicates the area where the eye of a storm could be up to five days out and is a way for forecasters to visually show what the storm’s expected track is. It does not represent the uncertainty associated with a storm forecast, nor the size or intensity of a storm.
Just because you’re outside a cone does not mean you won’t see impacts. Most storms will have rain and wind impacts outside the projected cones.
Turning a generator on indoors
No, no, and for the last time, no!
Portable generators should never be operated indoors, including in an attached garage or outside near a window or a roof’s overhang. The generator’s gasoline engine releases carbon monoxide fumes, which are colorless, odorless, tasteless and deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It only takes five minutes for the fumes to kill you if the carbon monoxide levels get too high, according to Consumer Reports. From 2005 to 2017, more than 900 people died of carbon monoxide poisoning while using portable generators, the nonprofit reports.
The CDC recommends you store the generator at least 20 feet away from the house with the engine exhaust facing away from windows and doors. Also, you should never add gasoline to the generator’s engine while the engine is running. Shut the motor off when refilling. For other generator safety tips, click here.
Using the grill indoors
You should never do this. Just like a portable generator, grills release deadly odorless carbon monoxide fumes. Let’s reiterate: These fumes can kill you within five minutes if the carbon monoxide levels get too high.
Using candles instead of a flashlight
We know you want to take advantage of your Bed, Bath & Beyond purchases, but this is just a bad idea.
Candles can easily start a fire if they get knocked down. Plus, what would you do? Run out into the middle of a Category 4 hurricane? Like we said, bad idea. It’s better to just use flashlights. You did buy batteries, didn’t you?
It’s safe to go outside during the eye of the storm
The eye of a hurricane is relatively calm with minimal to no clouds for 20 to 40 miles, according to AccuWeather, but looks can be deceiving. It may look safe, but the eye of a hurricane is where the most dangerous winds are located. So, even if you’re suffering from cabin fever, stay inside until your local officials say it’s safe.