Hurricane Dorian is bearing down on Florida. The latest word is that it will make landfall somewhere on Florida’s Atlantic coast late Sunday night or early Monday morning as a category four storm.
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) Personal safety comes first
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) Protect the guns you leave behind
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.
You may also want to read Luis Valdes’ excellent post on Florida’s gun laws during emergencies from last year.