TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) — Hurricane season officially starts Monday, June 1 so now is the time to prepare and to help keep costs down, Florida’s disaster preparedness tax “holiday” begins Friday.
During the holiday, which will last through June 4, shoppers will be able to avoid paying sales taxes when purchasing disaster supplies such as flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; coolers and batteries costing $30 or less; radios and tarps costing $50 or less; and portable generators costing $750 or less.
In addition to helping residents buy everything from coolers to generators, Florida Retail Federation President and CEO Scott Shalley hopes the seven-day tax “holiday” can provide a boost for businesses suffering from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think you’re going to see, again, additional incentives from the retailers to encourage sales for disaster preparation,” Shalley said. “You’ll continue to see, of course, all of the safe and smart shopping measures in terms of social distancing and sanitizing. But you’re going to see an emphasis on sales of batteries, coolers and those sorts of things that help people get prepared now.”
The state-discounted items will coincide with wider hurricane-season enticements, some already being offered online, from businesses such as Lowe’s, Home Depot and Harbor Freight.
Still, federal officials have expressed concern about people being prepared for disasters this year.
“Social distancing and other (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more,” Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a prepared statement. “With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now.”
FEMA’s storm-prep checklist includes flashlights, batteries, portable radios, multi-purpose tools, emergency fuel, personal hygiene items, cell-phone chargers, emergency contact lists and copies of personal documents, along with supplies of water, food and medication for three days to two weeks, depending on different scenarios involving evacuation or riding out the disaster at home.
The discounts are not available at businesses in airports or at public-lodging facilities and can’t be used to buy car and boat batteries. The discounts also can’t be offered at theme parks and entertainment complexes.