Recent weeks of harsh wind and rain might have some Southwest Florida residents feeling prepped and ready for hurricane season, which officially marked its beginning June 1.
According to a survey by AAA Consumer Pulse, 77 percent of Florida residents are taking necessary precautions to prepare for a hurricane, whether that includes stocking up on the essentials or buying a generator in the event of a power outage. However, another AAA survey showed that nearly one-fifth of Floridians would not leave their homes if an evacuation warning were issued (some of us may think we’re Dr. Jo Harding from Twister).
Officials from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict a busy hurricane season, suggesting we will see 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes at Category 3 or higher. Yikes.
In the event of a hurricane, Southwest Florida residents shouldn’t be scrambling at the last minute for supplies. Rather, they should be proactive and be prepared “all year long,” a practice that Naples’ organizational guru Marla Ottenstein swears by.
Ottenstein—you may know her as Naples’ PREMIER Professional Organizer® and Naples Daily News’ Get Organized columnist, as well as the owner of Professional Organizer Florida and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (yes, she’s more than qualified)—shares how Floridians can easily prepare for the storm with her must-follow tips. In her area-appropriate eighth annual hurricane edition of Get Organized, Ottenstein’s info-filled listicle shows her expertise in prepping for the natural disaster.
“Think smart and try to be prepared year-round,” Ottenstein says. “It’s not a matter of if, but when it will happen. Put yourself in the mindset that a hurricane will happen.” Ottenstein advises that even if you don’t live close to the shore—as she did during her first hurricane season in Florida—you still need to be aware of high-intensity winds and flooding during a hurricane.
Ottenstein shares that she always has extra drinking water, a full tank of gas and available cash in small bills year-round. She keeps empty gallon jugs in her garage and an extra bag of dog food in her pantry. This is a practice she emphasizes that residents don’t have to wait until June 1 to implement.
A “Doomsday List,” as Ottenstein calls it, is a must for when phones and electricity fail. She recommends compiling a list of important information (such as insurance policies, telephone numbers, account numbers and passwords) and printing it or saving it onto a flash drive. In addition, beginning to prepare in mid-May will allow for more time to check your inventory and stock up rather than shopping at the last minute.
Along with local professionals, insurance companies like AAA, Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America are sharing their storm preparation tips to help residents in hurricane-prone regions to stay smart and safe.