Aptly named the ‘Sunshine State’, Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, undulating palm trees, and dangerous hurricanes Destin, a city located a jewel along Florida’s Gulf Coast is no stranger to hurricanes of this strong. This blog post will provide a brief overview of this weather, with a special focus on the storms in Destin, Florida.
Threats: Destin tornadoes
Every year, as hurricane season is upon us, locals and visitors alike converge in Destin, Florida. Located in the sensitive “path of the storm”, the city has seen its fair share of stormy weather. These offshore storms pose a serious threat to Destin’s scenic attractions, sprawling resorts, and most importantly, the lives and livelihoods of its residents
Understanding the animal: Essentials
Hurricanes with destructive forces, strong winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges have significant impacts on human and natural systems that often leave significant damage and economic losses that can take years to recover from on. That said, understanding these natural disasters is the first step to eventual preparation.
What is a storm?
A hurricane is a type of storm, also known as a tropical cyclone, that occurs over tropical and subtropical waters. These weather systems are characterized by low pressure, strong winds and spiral thunderstorm systems that produce heavy rainfall
How does a storm blow? They begin as a thermal disturbance in warm seawater with a surface temperature of at least 80°F. These low pressure systems are fed by energy from warm oceans. When a tornado reaches 38 mph winds, it’s called a “trope.”
Hurricanes in Florida: Frequency and Intensity
Florida, due to its geographical location, is particularly susceptible to hurricanes. The state has been hit by hurricanes more than any other state in the U.S. According to the National Weather Service, from 1851 to 2020, a whopping total of 120 hurricanes have made landfall in Florida. That’s roughly one hurricane every 1.4 years!
Specifically, in Destin, Florida, hurricanes aren’t a rare occurrence. Even though direct hits are relatively fewer, the city often feels the brunt of the hurricanes that strike the Florida Panhandle. For instance, in 2020, Hurricane Sally, albeit not making landfall in Destin, caused significant flooding and wind damage in the city.
Every season, Destin residents are reminded of the power of these tumultuous storms and the urgent need for preparedness. As we delve further into hurricanes in Destin, Florida, and explore safety techniques, we aim to empower residents with the knowledge needed to face these storms.
The Imperative of Safety Techniques During Hurricanes
Living in Destin, Florida, means living with the annual possibility of hurricanes. While some storms may bypass the city, the potential for a direct hit should never be underestimated. As such, understanding and applying safety techniques is crucial to safeguard lives, properties, and communities.
Why are Safety Techniques Essential?
Safety techniques provide a roadmap for actions to take when hurricanes strike. They make a significant difference in mitigating the impacts of these destructive storms. Here’s why these techniques are pivotal:
- Saving Lives: The foremost reason to understand and implement safety techniques is to save lives. Proper preparation can reduce injuries and prevent deaths during hurricanes.
- Reducing Property Damage: Properly executed safety measures can limit the damage caused to property by strong winds, heavy rains, and flooding.
- Enhancing Recovery: A community well-prepared for a hurricane can recover more quickly after the event. Understanding how to navigate insurance claims and repairs helps bring normality back faster.
- Promoting Community Resilience: When individuals in a community are prepared, it lends to a resilient community. A prepared community can better support its members, especially the most vulnerable (like the elderly or the economically disadvantaged), during and after a disaster.
Safety Strategy #1: Know where to evacuate
The key to hurricane preparedness in Destin, Florida is having a thorough understanding of the evacuation zone. Knowing the neighborhood can be the difference between staying safe during a storm or facing unnecessary risks.
What are tornado outlets?
Florida’s coastal counties, including Okaloosa County, where Destin lives, are divided into hurricane zones. These areas depend primarily on the vulnerability of the area to deadly storm flooding. Areas labeled A, B, C, D, and E help local government officials order evacuations in the event of a storm.
Area A sits at the highest risk, while Area E is at the risk end. Those living in high-risk areas are first advised to evacuate as the storm approaches.
Why should you know your field?
Knowing where the storm is leaving your home allows you to make informed decisions about when and where to go in the event of a storm. Here are two important reasons to know your neighborhood.
- Effective Evacuation Planning: A pre-planned evacuation route is essential for individuals living in high-risk areas. This allows for a timely and safe evacuation when a storm approaches.
- Protecting life and property: Understanding risk levels can help you take necessary precautions to protect your family and property.
Safety Technique #2: Creating an Emergency Kit
Another critical step in preparing for hurricanes in Destin, Florida, is compiling an emergency kit. This kit should contain essential items that can sustain you and your family for several days during and after a storm, especially if utilities are disrupted.
What to Include in an Emergency Kit?
Your emergency kit should cater to your basic needs: food, water, health, communication, and sanitation. Here are the must-have items:
- Water: Stock up on one gallon of water per person per day, for at least three days.
- Food: Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items.
- Prescription Medications: Keep a seven-day supply of necessary medications.
- First Aid Kit: Include items like adhesive bandages, scissors, tweezers, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, etc.
- Personal Hygiene Items: Incorporate soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and sanitary wipes.
- Flashlight and Batteries: In case of power outages, these are invaluable.
- Battery-Powered Radio: This helps in staying updated with weather forecasts.
- Cash and Important Documents: Keep cash as ATMs might be down, and secure crucial documents like ID cards, insurance policies, and medical records.
- Cell Phone and Chargers: Maintain communication with the outside world.
Special Considerations When Creating Your Kit
Consider the specific needs of your family members when assembling your kit. Here are a few things to consider:
- If you have small children, pack baby formula, diapers, and age-appropriate food and games.
- For elderly family members, consider their specific medical needs, comfort items, and a list of emergency contacts.
- If someone in your family has a chronic illness, prepare additional medical supplies required for their care.
- Pet owners should include pet food, leash, and carrier.
- Those with dietary restrictions should ensure suitable food options are packed.
Safety Strategy #3: Securing your home
Making your home safe can significantly reduce tornado damage in Destin, Florida. Here are practical steps to take to protect your property and ensure the safety of its occupants.
How can a home be protected?
Taking the following steps can help protect your home from storm damage:
- Windows and Doors: Install storm shutters or use 5/8″ marine plywood to board windows and doors. This helps protect them from strong winds and moving objects.
- Roof: Protect roof shingles with storm strips to prevent wind damage to your roof.
- Yard: Trim trees and protect them with loose outdoor furniture so they don’t become a target in a storm.
- Drains: Keep drains and gutters clean to allow free flow of rainwater and reduce flood risk.
- Controls: Turn off utilities when specified to eliminate potential hazards. First learn how to disable utilities.
- Emergency power: Consider investing in an emergency backup generator.
Safety Strategy #4: Developing a family disaster plan
Destin, Florida, where hurricanes are frequent, highlights the importance of family disaster planning. Planning increases your family’s resilience, everyone knows what to do, where to go and how to communicate during a storm.
Steps to develop a comprehensive family disaster plan
There are several steps involved in developing a family disaster plan:
- Identify Risk: Understand the specific risks the storm poses to your area. Become familiar with storm routes from the area as well.
- Take shelters: Decide where to sleep in your home during a storm, preferably a small windowless room on the lowest floor.
- Evacuation Plan: Plan a destination if you need to evacuate. This could be a local hurricane shelter, a hotel, or a friend’s house that is a safe distance from the danger zone.
- Communication Plan: Identify an out-of-town contact for communication, as it can be easier to make long distance calls during an emergency. Include a list of important contacts for each family member.
- Prepare emergency kits: Prepare advanced emergency kits, as described earlier.
- Important Documents: Gather important documents—such as birth certificates, licenses, insurance policies—and keep them in a safe place that’s easily accessible.
Safety Strategy #5: Not informed
Staying up to date with the latest hurricane season weather in Destin, Florida is critical to your safety. Keeping a close watch on local news and weather alerts ensures you can respond quickly when a storm approaches.
The importance of staying up to date with local news and weather alerts
Getting accurate weather information in real time helps you make informed evacuation decisions, keeping your home safe and protecting your family. It also provides additional important information:
- Storm tracking, including predicted path and time of landfall.
- Changes in storm intensity, can measure expected impact.
- Government guidelines, such as evacuation orders, safest routes, and shelters.
- Road closures and traffic updates, ensuring a smooth evacuation.
- Post-hurricane issues, such as damage assessment, utility downtime, and safe restoration time.
Safety Strategy #6: Know when to evacuate
Understanding when it’s time to evacuate is a valuable skill in hurricane-prone areas like Destin, Florida. The decision to evacuate should never be taken lightly as it can mean the safety and well-being of your family.
Understanding when it’s time to move out
May be removed when:
- Orders by local authorities: Keep an eye on local news and radio for official evacuation orders.
- The property is in a high-risk area: Homes on low-lying areas, near water, or vulnerable structures are at greater risk during a storm.
- The storm is a Category 3 or higher: Strong storms can bring damaging winds, heavy rain and deadly tornadoes.
- Vulnerable people in the House: If you have children, elderly family members, people with disabilities or anyone.
Surviving the storm in Destin, Florida requires advance planning and careful implementation of safety measures. Whether it’s securing your home, creating a family disaster plan, staying up to date with the weather, or knowing exactly when to leave – preparedness is key.
While tornadoes cannot be prevented, their potentially destructive impact on homes can be minimized through preparation. Being prepared not only increases your chances of survival, but helps you recover faster once the storm passes.
Remember, the unpredictable nature of a storm should not be confused with danger. If we are prepared and take the right strategies, we can confidently weather the storm and ensure that we weather it.