With Hurricane season upon us and now is the time for homeowners to make the necessary preparations to protect their homes and loved ones.  The new Florida Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards provides actions that can be taken to reduce vulnerability to these threats.  When it comes to natural disasters, Florida – with hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, wildfires and flooding – certainly has more than its share. That’s a good reason for Floridians to spend time planning for such emergencies.  The Handbook explains the forces of nature that act on structures during storms, including the dangers associated with high winds, heavy rain, storm surge and even wildfires.  The Handbook lays out relatively easy things homeowners can do to minimize or negate the effect of natural disasters.

The Handbook provides tips specific to Florida residents.  These include preparing evacuation plans and kits, construction practices, retrofitting, shutter styles, insurance information and emergency contact numbers. The Handbook has suggestions people may not think about such as  keeping spare cash handy in case ATMs aren’t working, having a hardwire telephone in case cellular service goes out, and specific ways to shore up your windows, doors and garage doors. The Handbook doesn’t leave anything out, reminding homeowners to have a plan for pets, prescriptions, and important documents such as birth records, insurance policies, and descriptions and photos of home valuables.

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance Coastal Community Resilience Team produced the Handbook with the help of state, regional, national and private partners. Dr. Mike Spranger, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor in family, youth and community sciences, worked with colleagues in Florida to adapt the Handbook for Floridians.  A Tallahassee-based natural resource consultant, Lampl-Herbert Consultants, managed the project on behalf of the Alliance.

The goal of the project is to help build a more resilient coast by getting important information into the hands of homeowners. It is free and available in PDF format online at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/disaster_prep/ and on the StormSmart Coasts Florida. For handbooks in other Gulf States, go to www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.