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Planning Trumps Indecision – Prepare Now for Hurricane Season, Expert Says

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Waiting too long to make a decision in the face of disaster is in itself a decision – and rarely a good one, a University of Florida expert in community development says.

Michael Spranger, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor and Extension specialist, says deadly indecision can be trumped by one thing: Planning.

“In the time you take to deny and deliberate … you can die,” he said. “Just a little bit of planning could make all the difference in the world. There are a number of things you can do to better prepare yourself, your family and home for the natural hazards we have in Florida.”

Hurricane season begins June 1 and that makes now a perfect time to sit down with your family and talk about what you would do if told to evacuate in an emergency.

Spranger points to the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan that killed 19,000 people.

Those who survived responded to warning sirens, not hesitating before heading for higher ground; those who delayed in many cases, did not. The same phenomenon has played out over the years in one disaster after another, he noted, whether it was residents opting to “ride out” hurricanes in their homes or terrorism victims who spent too long tidying their desks or making calls before exiting a building.

While forecasters are calling for fewer storms this summer than normal, Spranger notes that 1992 was a similarly “light” season – and that’s when category five Hurricane Andrew walloped South Florida.

“The concern is you get complacent, and when you get complacent, you don’t plan,” he said.

Spranger was part of a statewide team last year that wrote a book called “Florida Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards.” It covers such events as tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires. A free, downloadable copy is available at http://www.solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/disaster_prep.

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