NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Gulf of Mexico, while it seems calm most of the time, can turn in an instant. If you don't take storm warnings seriously, you could end up in trouble.
John Collins and his family moved from Indiana to Southwest Florida right as Tropical Storm Isaac loomed off our coast.
"They said mandatory evacuation on the television then, and I... I went to the beach actually," recalled John.
While he wanted to see the power of a storm first hand, John now knows it could have ended badly for his family: wife Christina, and kids Elizabeth, Daniel and David.
"That's the unfortunate thing about me not caring last year, is that [my family] follow me and that could have risked us all," John explained. "That's the reason I made the phone call and contacted you and even WINK. I wanted to make sure we were more prepared."
Vowing this year would be different, we helped arrange a meeting between John's family and the American Red Cross.
In less than 30 minutes, long-time Red Cross volunteer and Lee Government Operations Chief Joe Pescatrice was able to tell the family where they were at in terms of evacuation zone and explain how to prepare for before, during and after a storm.
Having been with the Red Cross for more than 50 years, Joe was able to pass along some insight.
"The crazy part about hurricanes is when you get the order to evacuate, nine times out of 10, it's like this, it's beautiful, it's sunny, you'd say where is this hurricane? It's not even raining," he said.
The good news is at the end of the meeting, John took in the information and made his plans known.
Should a storm threaten again, John told us, "I think we'll just take a vacation, if we hear that. We'll go and drive up to Georgia... I'm not stronger than mother nature."
Also after the Red Cross presentation, John and his wife Christina told us that they're going to make sure their kids are a part of their preparation plans. They'll be assigning them to jobs.
Some other tips the Red Cross passed along:
--put your important documents, and even precious family photos, in a zip lock bag to keep the water and elements out and take it with you when evacuating.
--have a first aid kit on hand
--make a plan to keep your pet safe
For more information, head to the American Red Cross website.