Step 2: Determine If You Should Shelter-in-Place or Evacuate

Note: The posts in this series were adopted from a regional “hurricane preparedness” resource packet developed by the South Florida Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SFSCIMS) that can be downloaded in .pdf here.’

Things to Consider:

  • Know your zone. Find out which evacuation zone you live in by searching your address on the Florida Disaster Know Your Zone Website. Be sure that all options are selected under the “Layers” tab, found in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Select the “Legend” tab to determine which zone corresponds to the color surrounding your address.
  • Mandatory Evacuation Homes. All residents in a manufactured/mobile home or sub-standard housing must evacuate in a hurricane warning (source from the Official Palm Beach County Hurricane Planning Guide).
  • Sub-standard housing criteria include buildings that do NOT meet one of the following requirements:
    1. Permitted and inspected after March 1, 2002 under the Florida Building, or;
    2. Permitted and inspected under prior codes, constructed of solidly filled reinforced masonry; or of wood frame construction that has been evaluated and retrofitted as need to resist hurricane force winds; in either case, such structures must also have been retrofitted with impact protection on all glazed openings.
  • For more information, visit FEMA Manufactured (Mobile) Home.

In general, official recommendations suggest that evacuation should be a last resort option. If you live in a structurally sound home and are not located in a mandatory evacuation zone, hurricane experts will generally suggest shelter-in-place. However, please understand that these recommendations are for the general population and do not necessarily take into account the unique needs of persons with disability.

Evacuation area options – make sure to investigate these options well ahead of hurricane season, if possible.

  • Consider if a family member is capable of hosting you while also meeting your appropriate medical needs during an emergency evacuation (Is their home wheelchair accessible? Is there reliable electricity?)
  • Hotels?
  • County Special Needs Shelters. Visit your county’s dedicated chapter to learn about how to apply for their special needs shelter programs. Terms of eligibility, pet policies, and offered services vary by county.

If you can shelter-in-place:
– Prepare your emergency kit (step 3)
– Build a support network (step 4)
– Freeze water jugs
– Place flashlights and batteries throughout the house and keep one with you (DON’T use candles)
– Secure all doors, windows, and patio/yard furniture
– Turn the refrigerator to the lowest
setting and lower A/C

If you can evacuate:
– Prepare and pack your emergency kit (step 3)
– Build a support network (step 4)
– Communicate your evacuation plans to your caregiver, family members, etc.
– Secure all doors, windows, and patio/yard furniture
– Make pet arrangements
– Allow at least twice the usual travel time
– Go to your predetermined host home or risk/special needs shelter, if applicable
– Notify your pre-arranged contact when you arrive at your storm-safe location

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