Buying Snow Shovels in Florida

"You want me to buy a snow shovel. I live in South Florida!"

Last week, after our issue on winterizing your house right now (instead of waiting until the end-of-fall rush), Ron M. wrote in about the ludicrous nature of our tip on buying a snow shovel because he lives in South Florida.

We could write full issues about a number of disasters aside from heavy snowfall... wildfires, tornados, earthquakes. Depending on where you live, these types of weather events and natural disasters might affect you, or they might not.

But the takeaway lesson is always the same: Disaster can strike anywhere so you need to be prepared. We hope you take our issues on disaster preparedness and adapt them for where you live and what you need to do to stay safe.

Since we're at the peak of hurricane season this week, we're going to write about hurricanes. But keep in mind, many of these tips are good for anyone who might face storm damage and flooding.

Ron, this issue is for you. (We'll think of you enjoying sunny Florida while we're in the middle of a cold, wet Baltimore winter.)

I put together six of my best tips for surviving a hurricane. But remember, most of these apply to any disaster.

1. Have a plan and pay attention. You want to have a plan before any disaster strikes, but also be able to adapt as situations change. For instance, find a shelter before you're in danger. Know the route, too (don't rely on GPS because you may need to conserve power). In fact, find multiple shelters. You won't know which ones are full or inaccessible. If you have pets, find a place where they can go. FEMA has a good resource for planning for your pets here.

Leave a note in your home about where you're going. If you have time, call a friend or relative who lives outside of the evacuation zone. Tell your kids and other family members to call them as well, so you have a single point of contact in case you get separated.

And keep a working, battery-operated radio with you. Pack extra batteries in your car for it. Pay attention to the weather forecasts every day during the worst seasons (for hurricanes, that's June through November).

2. Know that it's not over until it's over. The National Hurricane Center notes that tornadoes are often spawned by hurricanes, and that some folks don't realize what the "eye of the storm" really means... As soon as the eye passes, winds will change direction and quickly return to hurricane-force. So when the eye is passing over, don't try to evacuate... or even try to return home.

3. Have transportation and use it wisely. Keep your car serviced and your tires in good shape so you can evacuate at any time, even if it's on short notice. If you don't have a car, arrange with family or neighbors to get you out during an evacuation.

Don't drive over flooded roads. More deaths occur due to flooding each year than any other thunderstorm- or hurricane-related hazard... According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into floodwater. Six inches of swiftly-moving water can knock over an adult... while 12 inches of water can carry away a small car.

4. Pack your bug-out bag. This is a bag packed with everything you need to survive for roughly 72 hours during a disaster evacuation. You'll want a bag packed with a change of clothes, that radio we mentioned earlier, extra batteries, flashlights, matches, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, and water.

I cover other essentials you need to pack in my book, The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual, which you can order right here.

5. Close and brace all exterior doors and windows if you're unable to evacuate. Then lie on the floor in an interior room or a closet on the lowest floor in the house (i.e., ground floor or basement). Brace yourself under a heavy object. The toilet fixture is helpful for this purpose. It is heavy and bolted to the floor.

6. Get trained for disaster-preparedness. In my book The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual, I highlighted the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). It's funded through FEMA. But it's administered by local emergency responders, like your neighborhood fire department. CERT members receive training on how to handle a wide range of crises. This includes everything from natural disasters and biological attacks to basic medical emergencies.

Remember, older folks are at greater risk during natural disasters. About 70% of the deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina were folks older than age 60. And close to half of the deaths from Hurricane Sandy were folks aged 65 or older. Have a plan and be ready to adapt as needed. Preparing today could save your life when the worst happens.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
September 12, 2019