Preparing for Hurricane Season is a Year round Commitment
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Although weather forecasters are able to provide more warning of an impending storm than ever before, the time to prepare is well before a tropical system even forms. Whether you’re a longtime Hillsborough County resident or are new to the area, here are five valuable tips from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue/Office of Emergency Management to help you get ready.
Know Your Evacuation Zone
Have a Plan
Organize Important Documents
Make a Kit
Evacuation levels in Hillsborough County are designated A through E, and include all mobile homes and RVs even if they are located well inland. But other factors may influence whether you decide to stay or leave. For instance, poorly-built structures and those not constructed to current building codes are more susceptible to wind damage, while homes in low spots or water basins may flood during a tropical storm or hurricane even if they are not in an evacuation zone.
Take into account both yourself and your loved ones, including pets. Know that public shelters aren’t comfortable, and most can’t take pets or accommodate persons with serious medical needs. If you will stay at home, designate an interior room or closet to take shelter. If you will evacuate, work out where you will go and how long it will take to get there on traffic-jammed roads. Develop a personal “to do” checklist for preparing for an impending storm; i.e. – board up windows, turn off power, fill up cars with fuel, etc.
Evaluate insurance policies annually. Update emergency contact information for yourself and others. Document valuables with photos and descriptions. Organize vital documents, such as passports, insurance information, bank and credit card information, prescriptions and medical records, and keep them where you can quickly access them and take them with you.
Assemble a disaster supply kit, including flashlights, batteries, radio, cash, first aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable food items, non-electric can opener, mosquito repellant, whistle and distress flag, paper products, plastic bags, etc. If you will stay in your home, plan for enough supplies to last at least three days in case you lose power and water, or can’t leave due to flooding or blocked roads. If you will evacuate, think about what items you will need if you can’t return home for awhile, such as pet supplies, bedding and towels, extra clothes, chargers for electronic devices, and personal care products.
Buy an all-hazards alert weather radio. Know how you will communicate with family members if cellphones, the Internet, and landlines don’t work. Bookmark HCFLGov.net/StaySafe, where official information will be posted during events. Register for HCFL Alert, the County’s official notification system for emergency and urgent messages, including severe weather alerts.