83ºF

How to evacuate safely for a hurricane

photo
(David McNew/Getty Images)

During an evacuation, it's important to use extra caution, because there's a large amount of vehicles on the road and officers and troopers may be out in full force directing traffic out of evacuation zones.

If you get into a minor crash during Hurricane Matthew, do not wait for the Florida Highway Patrol. By minor, troopers say no injuries and the vehicles are driveable.

Troopers and police will be prioritizing traffic incidents based on injury and roadblocks, so it could take several hours for them to get to the scene. They'll also be busy assisting those affected by the storm.

If you get in a minor crash, here's what you need to do:

  • Safely move vehicles to the shoulder or median if possible
  • Collect Information: Name, Number, Driver's License, Insurance Information and Registration Information
  • Fill out self-reported crash form -- https://firesportal.com/Pages/Public/SelfReportNew.aspx
    Please note: Currently the online self-report system does not support real-time updates or changes to information on existing reports. If you have already submitted a self-report and need to provide new or updated information, please contact FIRES support at (850) 617-2741 or email us at fires@appriss.com
  • Continue with evacuation

Driving tips during severe weather conditions

The Florida Highway Patrol urges drivers to follow safety tips that can save lives:

  • Stay put – Avoid driving in heavy storms, and stay in a safe place after the storm. Be prepared to remain where you are for an extended period of time. Often, injuries and deaths occur in the aftermath of storms. Sightseers impeding roadways cause obstacles for emergency personnel responding to those in need.
  • Slow down –. The roads remain slick after the storm so if you have to drive, decrease your speed to avoid hydroplaning.
  • Buckle up – When it is finally safe to venture out, take the extra time to buckle your seatbelt. It is the law in Florida, and statistics continue to show that seatbelts save lives. Four of the reported deaths related to Tropical Story Fay involved motorists who were not wearing their seatbelts.
  • Be cautious of high winds – Windy conditions adversely affect all vehicles, particularly high profile vehicles, such as buses and trucks, as well as motorcycles. Gusty wind makes driving difficult, especially when it is rapidly changing speed and direction.
  • Turn around; don’t drown – Prepare for standing water. Never drive through flooded areas, even if you are familiar with the roads. The area of roadway you cannot see beneath the water may be washed out or the water may conceal debris, tree branches or even power lines.
  • Pay attention – You may come up on an intersection that is no longer controlled by a traffic control device. If a police officer is directing traffic, follow their directions. Otherwise, treat the intersection as you would treat an intersection governed by a four-way Stop sign.
  • Flooding safety – Never drive into moving water. If you cannot see the roadway beneath the water, do not drive through it! The water may be deeper than it appears, and the road may be washed away.

Hurricane evacuations: Providing a safe escape

  • Make sure your vehicle is fueled up and well serviced before you hit the road. Fuel availability may be questionable and what is available is sure to generate extremely long lines
  • Carry a supply of food and water for each member of the traveling party.
  • Have a specific destination in mind and the route planned well in advance of your departure. When you travel be sure to carry any appropriate maps along inside your vehicle.
  • When possible evacuate tens of miles instead of hundreds of miles.
  • Please pack a lot of patience and be prepared for delays. Significant traffic delays are inevitable in a state as densely populated as Florida. Again, it is important to try and avoid the rush and depart earlier rather than later.