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Taking a closer look at 9 hurricane season myths

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Although we’ve already used the names Alex and Bonnie this year, today is the official start of hurricane season.

Here at Bay News 9, we will spend the next six months bringing you our Tropical Update at :49 minutes past the hour, with our Weather on the Nines forecast, and more frequently when something develops.  
 
Hopefully you are completing your hurricane preparations now. If you haven’t done so already, check out this previous blog:
 
We hear a lot of myths and bad information during hurricane season. Let’s get those out of the way so you have the correct information on the best ways to be prepared this year and what to do if a hurricane threatens our area.
 
MYTH #1: If you’re ordered to evacuate, drive as far away as possible.
 
REALITY: You might not have to drive far from your home to get away from the dangers of storm surge. How many times have you heard someone say “If I have to evacuate, I’m driving to Georgia!”  Instead, ask family or friends who are not in an evacuation zone if you can stay with them. They might be only 10 or 20 miles away from your house. Remember, traffic will be a nightmare and you don’t want to spend all your time in bumper-to-bumper traffic driving hundreds of miles to another state when there is a much closer option.

 
MYTH #2: I will go to a shelter and everything will be taken care of for me.

REALITY: A shelter is not a hotel. You are not ordering room service with comfy pillows and your own bathroom. You will be in a small space with a lot of people. You will have no privacy. You probably won’t be able to bring your pet. And if you have special needs, register ahead of time. Bottom line, be thankful shelters are available but make them your last resort.
 

MYTH #3:
  Tape your windows to prevent them from breaking in a storm.

REALITY: This won’t work. If something hits a window during a hurricane, tape will not prevent the window from breaking. Don’t waste your time with tape, put up plywood or get hurricane shutters.
 

MYTH #4:
Crack open your windows to equalize pressure in the home.

REALITY: Opening your windows will allow rain and wind into your home (this is what you are trying to avoid)! Flying debris hitting your windows is what causes them to break.
 

MYTH #5:
I have property insurance, so my house is covered.

REALITY: When was the last time you looked at your insurance policy? Do you know your coverage and your deductible? Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding, which can be a major problem during a storm. You must purchase separate flood insurance. If you need more coverage, most policies need 30 days to go into effect so take care of this now.
 

MYTH #6:
Tropical storms and Category 1 hurricanes are no big deal.

REALITY: Every storm is different. Some hurricanes have very strong winds, some bring major flooding, some produce both. Tropical storms can be just as dangerous as some hurricanes. Remember Tropical Storm Debby? It brought massive flooding to parts of Pasco County in June of 2012. Debby dumped 10 to more than 20 inches of rain in parts of Florida while it moved very slowly in the Gulf of Mexico for days. Eight people died because of Tropical Storm Debby. Bottom line, don’t wait until it’s a Category 2 or 3 hurricane before you take it seriously. Be prepared and ready to take action for any hurricane or tropical storm that threatens our area.
 

MYTH #7:
If I’m not near the coast, I’ll be safe.

REALITY: While hurricane evacuations are ordered because of storm surge, inland areas also have big risks during a hurricane.  Wind damage, tornadoes, and flooding are all big threats to people living away from the water.  In 2004, Hurricane Charley made landfall in Southwest Florida then moved across Polk County and the Orlando area and it was still a hurricane when it moved off the east coast near Daytona Beach!  There was a lot of damage and rebuilding in those areas for a long time.
 

MYTH #8:
Higher floors in apartments and condominiums are safe in a storm.

REALITY: Wind speed increases with height. Those higher wind speeds could blow out windows and also create a dangerous situation to areas surrounding those buildings. Also, if the area around you floods, it makes any rescue attempts very dangerous. If you need to evacuate, get out, not up.
 

MYTH #9:
  Mobile homes with tie-downs are safe in a hurricane.

REALITY: Mobile home communities, which are numerous in Florida, are especially vulnerable during hurricanes. That’s why mobile home residents can be evacuated regardless of their evacuation level. While in some situations tie-downs or straps can prevent your mobile home from coming loose, they are never a safe place to ride out a hurricane. So if you are ordered to evacuate, it’s best to do so.

Bay News 9 – local-news

June 1, 2016 |
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