Hurricane Season Preparedness
Florida has had a quiet hurricane season this year due to the Saharan Dust creating less favorable conditions for tropical cyclone formations in the Atlantic. This will soon pass as we approach peak season in September, the most active month of Atlantic hurricane season. Over the last 30 years about 500 Floridians have been killed by tropical storm related activity. Some deaths were inevitable, some could have been prevented by being prepared and having a plan.
Storms path can be predicted 3-5 days in advance, but you’ll want to have your hurricane kit together long before the storm ever comes close. Here’s some items recommended to have in your kit.
- Water. Have enough drinkable water. The recommended amount is one gallon per person per day. A minimum amount would be a three-day supply. You can also go the extra mile and pick up a water filter such as the LifeStraw.
- Food. Have enough non-perishable food items like canned and dried foods, protein bars, and freeze-dried meals. Have a manual can opener on hand. Conditions may not allow you to grill, and it is dangerous to grill inside your home. Instead, pick up a burner and fuel – they’re compact and it’s also a great to have in case you need to boil water for drinking.
- First Aid Kit. Emergency services and workers stop responding to calls for service once winds reach 45mph. Have a first aid kit and any other medications that are needed together for the event of an emergency. You may also want to include hygiene and sanitization items.
- Basic Items. Other items you may want to include in your personal kit – flashlights, glow sticks, battery operated radio, batteries, waterproof container (to place important items/documents in), lighter or matches, gloves, duct tape, tarp, or poncho.
- Bonus Items. Have items such as books, magazines, or games for entertainment while the storm passes. Don’t forget to make sure you have supplies for pet or baby needs as well.
If the storm is going to be close to your area – there may be some additional steps you would want to take to maximize safety.
- Know your evacuation plan. Make sure everyone in your household knows the evacuation plan and can execute it. Plan out where you’re going, where the local shelters are located (if you have pets, make sure the shelter accepts pets), and have emergency numbers and websites saved.
- Secure your home. You can secure your home by covering your windows with hurricane shutters or plywood, taping windows so they break not shatter, remove tree and shrub debris, reinforce garage doors, and bring in all outdoor furniture and décor.
- During the storm. Stay away from windows and doors. Secure all internal doors by closing the doors in your home. Try to locate a position in your home that is internal walls away from windows and exterior doors.
There’s a good chance that you will lose power during a hurricane. In the event of losing power, don’t panic, just prepare.
- Gas. Gas up your vehicles ahead of the storm, you may need to follow an emergency evacuation. Gas stations are often backed up or out of gas even before a storm hits, so don’t wait until last minute.
- Cash. Without power, even after the storm is over, businesses may not be able to process electronic transactions such as credit/debit, apple pay, etc. Keep cash on hand in case of a power outage, you can always redeposit the cash after the storm.
- Water. Fill a tub or container with water for flushing or washing only.
- Food. Freeze what can be frozen. Have a cooler ready to cool drinks and snacks after power has been out four or more hours. Check out this food safety guide for additional information. Food Safety During Power Outage | FoodSafety.gov
- Cell phones. Charge your phone and limit use while power is down. You may want to purchase a power bank if you’re expecting a long-term outage.
- Air conditioning. Probably one of the least comfortable situations is living in Florida without A/C. Cover windows to prevent light from entering the home. Don’t operate fans unless you’re in the room. Fans do not keep the room cool, but they will disperse heat off your skin creating a cooling effect.
Hurricanes and storms can be unpredictable and dangerous. Whether you’re a seasoned Floridian or new to area, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Check with your local government for evacuation routes and emergency information. We have also attached a disaster supply checklist to help you stay organized and make sure you have everything you need in the event of an emergency.
Student Drivers: Is Your Teen Properly Covered?
It’s an exciting time for your teen as they take a step towards independence. It’s also a terrifying time as a parent when your teen gets behind the wheel. It’s a right of passage for both parents and teens as you achieve a new milestone together. Although you can’t be there every moment your teen is behind the wheel, there are some precautions you can take to keep your teen safe and protected.
Talk with your insurance agent. Your student driver needs to be insured when they receive their Learner’s Permit. A majority of the time, insurance companies will cover your teen at no additional cost while your teen has their Learner’s Permit. Before your student driver gets the Learner’s Permit, schedule an appointment with your insurance agent to discuss coverage options. A common misconception is the idea of “full coverage” insurance. The term “full coverage” is thrown around often when, in fact, there really is no such thing as “full coverage” insurance. Many believe that their policy is “full coverage,” but often that just means their policy carries the bare minimums required by the state – and that’s actually coverage that probably won’t protect you in the event of an accident. Review all coverages that you currently have on your policy and any optional coverages you don’t already have. You may find that you need to add an additional coverage or increase an existing coverage to reduce personal liability and protect the drivers in your family from an uninsured or underinsured motorist in the event of an accident. For more information about Florida Automobile Insurance, check out our YouTube Channel. Keith Taylor Law Group, P.A. – YouTube
Licensed to drive but on who’s policy? You will need to contact your insurance agent and update them once your teen has become a licensed driver. You should expect your insurance rates to drastically increase once your teen has become a licensed driver. Teen drivers are three times more likely to be an accident. Teen drivers are inexperienced, which leads to greater risk and higher premiums. Still, adding your teen to an existing policy may be less expensive than a brand-new policy in their name. Regardless of the option you choose, an adult needs to be on the policy with your teen driver unless they are legally emancipated. If your teenager splits time between two households and won’t have their own auto insurance policy, add your teen to the policy for the cars in both households or to the parent with sole custody.
Does my teen really need to be insured? Yes! Even for legal minors, a driver not being insured is illegal and could lead to fines, license suspension, and vehicle tag and registration suspension. If your teen drives your vehicle and they are not listed as a driver on your policy, you may find yourself without insurance coverage for an accident. Liability can also come back on you as a parent or guardian if the vehicle involved is registered to your family home, even if your teen is over 18 years of age. If your teen is not properly insured, you could be left to pay damages for property damage or personal injury out of your own pocket.
Can I reduce liability? The CDC lists car accidents as the leading cause of death among teens. Educate your teen on the importance of safe driving and obeying traffic laws. Make sure your teen gets lots of practice in all types of conditions when they are practicing with their Learner’s Permit. Another option is the Teen Driver Challenge, offered at no cost by The Florida Sheriffs Association. In this driving course, teens learn an array of defensive driving skills that cover various topics and conditions. Have a conversation about the risks of driving while intoxicated or with distractions such as texting and driving. Some parents or guardians even impose a curfew, limit the distance or areas where the teen is allowed to drive, and limit the number of passengers allowed in the car while the teen is driving.
Are there special discounts available? With new driving privileges, it’s not out of the question to have your teen pay some of the insurance premium. Participating in paying for the policy teaches teens responsibility and that driving is a privilege, not a right. You can also check with your insurance company for good grade/student discounts or driving programs that could reduce insurance premiums. Some other ways of reducing insurance premiums are to make sure that your teen is not listed as the primary driver of a vehicle (if they aren’t the primary driver of that vehicle) and, they if they are the primary driver, avoid high performance vehicles or sports cars, which carry significantly higher premiums.
Your teen driving can be an overwhelming experience that’s full of emotions, but they don’t all have to be negative emotions. Take this time to show your teen that although things can be intimidating and scary, they can also be exciting and fun with the right steps, tools, and conversations. Setting up your student driver for success before they even get behind the wheel will save you a lot of frustration, time, money, and heartache.
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (sheriffcitrus.org)
Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (hernandosheriff.org)
TEEN DRIVER CHALLENGE — Marion County Sheriff’s Office (marionso.com)
Rise in the Need for Long Term Care
It’s no secret that people are living longer. Fifty years ago, the average life expectancy was 71 years old. Now, the average life expectancy is 79 years old. That number is expected to keep rising into the future, and by 2050 the population of people 85-years-old and up is expected to triple. It’s wonderful that advancements in medicine are helping us live longer lives, but longer lives can also bring new problems as we face deteriorating mental and physical health over an expanded period of time. A private room in a nursing home carries the hefty price tag of $100,000.00 a year on average, and a private room in an assisted living facility averages $48,000.00 a year. Those high costs for care can wipe out an entire life savings within a short period of time.
Medicare currently pays for 60% of Long-Term Care spending. Florida’s statewide program, Statewide Medicaid Managed Care – Long Term Care (SMMC LTC) can also match those in need with a local provider and a case manager to create a care plan that outlines the care a person needs, the least restrictive environment in which a patient can receive that care, and what support they require. Family may be hired and compensated to provide care under this plan. If the patient needs additional care that was not part of their care plan, they may request a Medicaid Fair Hearing. To qualify for SMMC LTC, you must be a Florida resident, 65 years old (or 18-64 years old and designated as disabled by the Social Security Administration), in need of assistance or partial assistance with two or more of activities of daily living (ADL), and meet the financial requirements for Florida Medicaid. The financial requirements take into account both income and assets. The income limit is $2,523 per month for an individual and $5,046 per month for couples. In calculating income limits in a situation where only one spouse applies for the benefits and the other is healthy, up to $3,435 a month can be allocated to the healthy spouse as a Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. Assets are also limited to $2,000.00 for an individual and $3,000.00 for a couple. In couples with a single applicant, the healthy non-applicant spouse can keep a Community Spouse Resource Allowance limited to $137,400 of joint assets. Certain items are exempt from the asset calculation, such as your primary residence (with equity less than $636,000.00), vehicle, household belongings, personal items, and burial plot. Medicaid has a 60 month look back period to verify income and assets were not transferred to others for less than market value. For more information on eligibility, visit SMMC Long-Term Care Program (myflorida.com).
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, there is an alternative to paying the costs of long term care out of pocket. You can carry a long-term care insurance policy. Depending on the policy, it may pay for all or part of long-term care. Insurers must clearly state it’s terms, benefits, and exclusions in the policy. An outline of coverage must also be provided to the insured. Policies cannot require more than three ADLs to qualify and trigger benefits within the individual policy. When purchasing a policy, it’s important to consider the coverage you may need and the type of facility it may require. You should be able to choose a daily benefit amount, maximum benefit period, and length of elimination period (amount of time before benefits are available). Keep an eye out for home health – if it’s included and the requirements to qualify for it. Some plans may only pay for certain types of individuals to provide care or have other restrictions. If you are planning for a family member to provide care for you and to be compensated, review the policy to verify that the benefit will be provided. A bonus with some policies is the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, which was designed to protect the assets of long-term care insurance policy holders who find they need Medicaid benefits in addition to their policy. Although this does not guarantee eligibility for Medicaid, it has benefits such as inflation protection and a dollar-for-dollar asset protection (for every dollar the partnering policy pays out, a dollar of assets can be protected from Medicaid spend-down requirements). Long-term care policies may also provide federal tax benefits, you may be eligible to deduct some or all of the policy’s premiums. For more detailed information on purchasing and utilizing a long-term care insurance policy check out the state of Florida Division of Consumer Service’s guide. LTCGuide.pdf (myfloridacfo.com)
With a longer life span, it’s no longer just about having life insurance to secure your family’s future. It’s also having a plan in place in case you need assistance with basic day-to-day activities before the end of your life. About 70% of retirees can anticipate they will need long-term care at some point during their retirement. Get familiar with your options and put a plan in place now. Being prepared will take the stress off yourself and family members should the time come that you need long-term care assistance.
Congratulations to attorney Keith Taylor and Jessica Czaya for being recognized for their continued outstanding work.
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We are so happy to adopt Mrs. McNally’s classroom at Rock Crusher Elementary for the 2022-2023 school year. The proceeds help teachers purchase items needed for their classroom and students.