The Prime Time to Prepare People for Hurricanes? Before the Storm Has Even Formed
Behavioral studies have shown that those who develop plans for storms before they’re on the horizon are far more likely to evacuate when the time comes. But according to storm preparation experts, there’s still the chance for missteps.
The Tampa Bay Times spoke with experts in storm prep, response and recovery to identify the best methods for readying for natural disasters, and where people go wrong. Some of the major lessons:
Planning ahead – Chris Emrich, a founding member of the National Center for Integrated Coastal Research at the University of Central Florida, has run evacuation behavioral studies and found that people who already have plans in place before any storms are forecast are more likely to evacuate when orders are called. Too many people only begin to react when the storm is upon them, and stressful times lead to mistakes.
Leaving the flood zones – Misconceptions about evacuation can affect response during storms. Leaving the flood zone and evacuation areas is important, but many leave the area altogether – and end up in a different coastal city that could be just as dangerous.
Community and communication – Connecting with county emergency management services during calm times can boost resources, reach out to vulnerable populations when a storm comes, and ensure information is coming from a trusted source.