Does Florida sunshine blind us to storm risk?
Today is another one of those drop-dead-gorgeous Florida days. The sun is out, the air is fresh (low humidity!), and there is the clearest of blue skies. It’s way too hot for January, in my opinion, but that’s not a complaint at all. That makes today a perfect day to think about the imperfect ones.
Nearly 70 percent of Florida days are sunny. Are we blinded by the sun?
Everyone knows it’s not a question of IF Florida will be struck by another hurricane; it’s a question of WHEN. No one knows when. If hurricanes made appointments, we could all plan for them. But no. They just show up, although they do give us several days notice. This gives us time to rush around in a panic to stock up on storm stuff, then grouse about how we were “tricked” by the so-called “cone of uncertainty” once again. Some people think they’ve been fooled by the weather and vow not to be fooled again. Yet, they will.
Everyone knows what they SHOULD be doing to prepare for windy, rainy, ugly weather. They just don’t. Why is that? Researchers at the Wharton Risk Management Center say it’s because people do not voluntarily take loss-prevention measures. They conducted a survey of coastal residents after the devastating hurricane seasons of 2004-2005 and found that only 17 percent had taken steps to fortify their homes. Wharton’s paper on The Psychology of Natural Hazards suggests that the 83 percent of people who have failed to fortify may focus too much on the high upfront costs and too little on the long-term benefits. Understandable, and that’s why you hear so much about mitigation discounts.
Homeowners who take proven methods to strengthen their homes can get discounts off the windstorm portion of their insurance premium. You may not be able to do everything it takes to make your home stronger, but you can start the process. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has a pamphlet to show how to reduce hurricane risk. Tip: If this is the year you need to replace your roof, consider a fortified roof. The strongest roofs can stand up to punishment and reduce the damage storms can do to your home.
The sun’s shining, so why am I thinking about hurricane season? Because I’m watching the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, the worst storm to hit the northeast in nearly 75 years. There were lessons from Sandy that Floridians should consider now. Florida’s hurricane history is clear, and the sun should not blind us.