We originally ran the following post in anticipation of Hurricane Florence. It’s now just as relevant for Hurricane Michael as it bears down on the Florida panhandle and points north.
Hurricane Michael is forecast to strike the Florida Panhandle at least at Category 3 intensity driving life-threatening storm surge flooding, destructive winds and flooding rainfall. Michael will also spread heavy rain and strong winds to other parts of the southeastern United States after it moves inland.
“Michael could develop into a potentially catastrophic event for the northeastern Gulf Coast,” the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Florida, wrote in its area forecast discussion Monday afternoon. Michael could be the strongest hurricane to landfall along the stretch of Florida’s Panhandle Gulf Coast in 13 years.
Read Luis Valdes’s excellent post from yesterday on Florida’s emergency gun laws.
If you live in the southeast, you likely already have a disaster preparedness plan for just these kinds of situations. Let’s hope so. But here are three tips for gun owners to ensure your safety and the security of your firearms.
1) The first and foremost consideration is your personal safety and that of your family. You may be planning to ride out the storm in place, in which case you’ll want to have at least one firearm handy, preferably carried on your person. Open carry in your own home and on your property is legal virtually everywhere, but be sure to know your local laws.
Depending on the intensity of the storm, however, your situation could change. You could be ordered to evacuate by local authorities. If you’re forced to leave your home, be prepared to take your firearms and a supply of ammunition with you. In addition to the gun(s) you may be carrying, that means including holsters and slings with ammo cans, cases and other gear to carry everything securely in your vehicle.
2) Know the laws in surrounding states. If you’re forced to travel over state lines in order to get away from the effects of the storm, be aware that the laws concerning your firearms and how they can be legally carried can vary extensively.
Storm evacuation is stressful enough without encountering legal problems due to the firearms and magazines you may be transporting or how you’re carrying them. Be familiar with the concealed carry reciprocity laws in any states you’re likely to be traveling to and staying in until you can return home.
3) It may not be possible to take all of your firearms with you should you be forced to leave your home. People, pets and clothing and emergency gear will take precedence in your vehicle. If you’re forced to leave firearms behind, do what you can to ensure they’re protected from water damage and potential looters.
Move firearms you can’t take with you to an upper floor to guard against flooding. Store them in a safe or lockable cabinet to keep them as secure as you can while you’re out of your home.
You’ll also want to protect them from water damage as much as possible. If your guns are stored in a safe, you can improve its water resistance by using foam gap filler around the door edges that’s available at any hardware store. If not in a safe, keep your firearms in the most secure containers you have (Pelican type cases work well for this) at the highest level possible in your home, covered by a tarp or plastic sheeting that’s secured with duct tape.
Here’s hoping you and your family stay safe no matter what your plans are for dealing with the storm and its aftermath.