Latest from the National Hurricane Center
The following is a collection of suggestions from the National Hurricane Center and Ready.gov on being prepared year-round for the impacts from a hurricane or severe weather. Having a plan, preparing a survival kit, and knowing ahead of time where to get help could save your life, or at the very least make riding out a storm easier for you and your family.
Make a Plan
Before the season begins and during the cooler winter months, there are many relatively simple tasks you can do to your home that will help to mitigate any damage that could be caused by a storm. Trimming trees and shrubs can lower the chances that your home will be impacted by wind damage or a power outage. Clearing clogged rain gutters or downspouts can lessen the impact of flooding or prevent a leak in your roof during a storm. Purchasing and installing a generator can keep your essential items powered for several days in the event of a major power outage. And finally, make plans ahead of time on where to store your recreational vehicles, such as your boat or motorcycle. A public space such as a parking garage may be a much sturdier solution than your driveway or carport. View other planning tips for the elderly, pets, kids and those with special needs at Ready.gov.
Build a Kit
It doesn't take thousands of dollars or multiple days to do it. In fact, for far less than that and usually in one day of shopping, you can gather the items necessary to ride a storm and the impact it can leave for many days after. If finances become a challenge, consider purchasing only a few of these items at a time during the off-season months.
- 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
- 3-day supply of non-perishable food
- At least one change of clothes
- First-aid kit
- Portable radio
- Flashlight, with extra batteries
- Credit card AND cash
- Prescription and non-prescription medication
- Sleeping bag, blanket and/or pillow
- Emergency contact list (on paper)
- Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
The State of Florida tax free holiday is usually the first week of the season and covers hurricane supplies including batteries, a generator, radios, etc. View the full list of qualified purchases from the Department of Revenue.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to this station and live reports from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network to get information on evacuations and shelters available in your area.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Moor your boat if time permits.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions. Know your zone!
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
Read more about evacuating yourself and your family. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Avoid elevators.
Ok, the storm is over. Now what...
- Continue listening to the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network live reports on this station for important safety and clean-up information.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
- The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬ out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.