If you listened to us locals talking, you’d probably think that hurricanes are something that happen several times per year. Most Floridians take them in stride and consider it all part of living in such an incredible and beautiful state. The fact is, though, that most tropical storms don’t turn into a hurricane all that often. Of the fifty-odd tropical storms that develop over the Atlantic coast every three years, only five of them actually turn into hurricanes. Even fewer of them pose any legitimate threat to us. However, when they do? Out of the way, buddy, that last 4-pack of toilet paper on the supermarket shelf is mine. And don’t even think about reaching for that jug of milk.

South Florida car owners are not only surprisingly calm about hurricanes, we’re also very smart about them. We know how dangerous they can be, and we know better to try to stick around and ride it out when Jim Cantore is telling us to pack it up and head north. While hurricanes are relatively uncommon, it’s still a wise idea to have a hurricane evacuation plan in place for when they do inevitably make land. You want your car registered and in good shape, and your important things kept track of in case the heavy water or tidal flooding wreaks havoc on your home.

Connect with family. Before you start scanning the horizon for the name of the week (and why are they always plain-Jane names, anyway? I’m looking at you, Hurricane Windy Moira Angela Darling), make sure you and your family have a meet-up plan, especially if you get separated and your cell phone dies or loses service. This can be a local school or gymnasium, or even an out-of-town family member’s place. Either way, planning ahead can save you a ton of anxiety and stress when it’s time to jet.

Assemble an emergency kit. Grab a sturdy plastic tote or tub and have it ready to throw into your trunk on your way out the door. Fill it with water, non-perishable foods (like jerky, trail mix, and dried fruit), jumper cables, a blanket, a flashlight, a gas can, and a change of clothes. If you take medication, set aside a supply of them to go into your kit, too. Check on your kit every six months to a year to make sure nothing has expired. These items will save the day if you end up stuck on the road without gas at an odd hour as all the hotels and gas stations are known to run out of space and fuel.

Organize your files. If you’re leaving town, you’re going to want to make sure you have all of your important papers with you. Grab the deed or title to your home, your insurance information, your identification cards, and any other important documents that you may need. Keep them all tucked away in a place where you can readily access them if you need to evacuate in a rush.

Don’t forget your pets. It’s extremely tragic and heartbreaking to learn that some people may not have planned for their four-legged kiddos in the event of a hurricane. Whether it’s misinformation about whether pets are welcome at shelters (in many places, they are completely welcome), or they simply aren’t thinking about their buddies when they’re packing to go, they may overlook this beloved family member (Helpful hint: always take your pets. No question about it.) If you have pets, make sure you have enough food and water for them, too, and set aside an extra kennel or carrier for a quick getaway.

Even if you’re not being told to evacuate just yet, keep an eye on the news and the weather. Conditions can change in a matter of hours. If you’re told that you can stay in your home, make sure you secure and reinforce it carefully. If you live in a mobile home or have roof problems, don’t stick around, even if you think you’ll be fine. Even the most durable double wide is no match for a Category 5. Above all, practice good judgment and plan ahead to help keep you and your family safe and dry during this year’s hurricane season.

When you take a long trip, always make sure that your Fort Lauderdale car registration is up to date. Call us for same-day service before hurricane season is in full swing to avoid wait times or a desperate visit to the packed DMV.

Photo credit:Johannes Rapprich