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Florida pushes new safety recommendations as hurricane season begins

Florida Division of Emergency Management advises keeping gas tanks half full
Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 18:01:50-04

New safety tips, a sales tax break and a revived home hardening program — state officials said they are ready for the 2022 hurricane season and urged Floridians to do the same.

ABOVE-AVERAGE SEASON

For a seventh consecutive year, weather experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have predicted an above-average Atlantic hurricane season. They give it a 65% chance of higher than typical activity and estimate between three to six "major hurricanes" from June 1 to Nov. 30.

LEARNING FROM LAST YEAR

The potential for more storms had officials at the Florida Division of Emergency Management making improvements as the season began.

Kevin Guthrie, Florida Division Emergency Management director
Kevin Guthrie discusses how the state is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.

Director Kevin Guthrie is starting his second year in the top spot. He told us recently that DEM will bolster supply chains after experiencing issues during last season.

"We've gotten with all of our county partners and state partners to find out what they're having issues with now, what they may have issues with inside of a disaster," Guthrie said. "And then, we're communicating those things up to FEMA."

Guthrie said taking stock and alerting federal officials now could help ensure speedy distribution of supplies later when time is of the essence. He called it the biggest takeaway from last year.

Gas lines for approaching hurricane
State emergency management officials advise drivers to keep a half-tank of fuel in their vehicles to avoid long lines at gas stations.

NEW SAFETY TIPS

Guthrie also said DEM has started promoting two new safety campaigns this year.

The first is to keep gas tanks half full this season. The director said it would ensure enough fuel to evacuate as soon as possible without worrying about long lines at the pump.

"That way, if they have to evacuate, they're already halfway there," Guthrie said. "They have got a half a tank of gas. They don’t necessarily have to get bogged down inside their evacuation area to fill up their gas tank."

The second recommendation is to seek friends and family first if you need to leave your home. Guthrie said shelters should be a last resort.

"Going to a shelter is certainly not the best situation," he said. "You're in there with a lot of people. You're separated on a 20-square-foot platform. It's just not a perfect place to be. If it's the last thing you can get to, go to a school, go to a shelter and seek assistance. But, go to friends and family first."

TAX BREAKS AND MORE

And there are plenty of other things the state is doing to help this year.

A sales tax holiday continues through June 10 on disaster prep items like portable generators, batteries, radios and more.

Plus — in July — My Safe Florida Home starts. The revived 16-year-old grant program provides homeowners up to $10,000 for strengthening their property against hurricanes.

Lawmakers renewed it during the special session in hopes of helping curb a different crisis — skyrocketing property insurance.

HURRICANE GUIDES

Several Florida politicians have also offered hurricane guides to help Floridians understand threats and create emergency plans. The overarching message from all of them, prepare now before it's too late.

Download Storm Shield App, www.StormShieldAlerts.com

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Scripps National Desk
1:29 PM, Dec 17, 2018

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2022 WPTV First Alert Weather Special

2022 STORM NAMES

Alex

Bonnie

Colin

Danielle

Earl

Fiona

Gaston

Hermine

Ian

Julia

Karl

Lisa

Martin

Nicole

Owen

Paula

Richard

Shary

Tobias

Virginie

Walter

TERMS TO KNOW

TROPICAL STORM WATCH: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

TROPICAL STORM WARNING: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

HURRICANE WATCH: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

HURRICANE WARNING: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.