Nobody wants to think about it, but everyone who lives along the coast has to – and that’s what is needed in a hurricane evacuation. While the Florida Keys have escaped most major hurricanes in the last decade, that doesn’t mean a major one couldn’t strike at any time. It’s best to be prepared all of the time. The Florida Keys Have a long hurricane season, which is June 1 – November 30. It’s more likely a hurricane will hit between August 15 and October 1, as summer gives way to fall. (That’s easy to forget in the Keys, as the temperature change is very subtle!) However, it’s important to remember that theoretically, a hurricane could strike at any time of the year. It’s best to always be prepared.

Five Must Haves For Hurricane Evacuation In The Florida Keys

  • Have an evacuation plan
  • Have a plan for pets
  • Have a stash of money only for hurricane use
  • Keep bottled water in your vehicle
  • Keep your gas tank full during height of hurricane season

In many evacuation zones, all you have to do is drive twenty or so miles to a friend’s house and you have complied with the mandatory evacuation and will be safe. Not true for The Keys. You need to get all the way out of the keys, and depending on where you live, this may take days under a mandatory evacuation. You need to get a weather app on your phone, and as soon as they begin to talk about mandatory evacuations, leave. You need to get safely inland at least to somewhere that’s not coastal Florida. That’s not an easy feat. Many have friends, family, or former co-workers or classmates they could stay with. If not, know that many churches and schools will open their doors. The main thing you need is the mindset to go at earliest call.
You need to take your pets. Many places in inland Florida have places that will allow you to hunker down and wait out the storm with your pets, but if you don’t ask family, friends, or research places that might take pets now, you will be overwhelmed when the time comes. When you read stories of dogs and cats being left behind during hurricanes, it’s safe to say the majority did not want to do that. They weren’t heartless people who wanted their pets to drown; they became distressed and overwhelmed, likely took a bet, stayed until the last minute, and lost. Their priority then needed to be human life. It would be heartbreaking to say the least, so again – leave at earliest call and have a plan. It’s not a bad idea to throw a bag of your pet’s food, dishes, and a blanket in your vehicle now as well.
Many people live paycheck to paycheck and nobody can fault that. However, keeping several hundred dollars only for hurricane funds is a great idea. It’s a good idea to keep it in cash, too, in case electronics go down. Where you decide to store it is up to you, but it should be somewhere that you can quickly grab but not easily stolen by others. How can you get this money? If you have people who ask what you want for your birthday or Christmas, tell them “hurricane cash.” Most people who live near you or love you will be more than happy to oblige.
Always keep a few gallons of bottled water in your vehicle. It’s a good idea to change it out every few months, and it is inexpensive. It will be invaluable if the need arises.
During hurricane season, don’t run your gas tank on empty! Although weather models are good at predicting storms, storms can also quickly turn. Make sure you always have a full tank of gas so all you have to so is grab your cash, people and animals, throw your bag in the car, and go! We’ve all seen the nightmare footage of gas stations backed up for a mile and gas stations with no more gas. Avoid that drama and have a little peace of mind.
Living in the Florida Keys is paradise, but even paradise needs a little preparation. Happy “hurricane-free” season!

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