Hurricane season has recently begun in the sunshine state. It starts in June and typically lasts around five months with storms usually peaking in August or September. On a positive note, Central Florida doesn’t typically take the brunt of hurricanes that coastal areas do. In fact, many residents living along the coast will evacuate to the Orlando area. We noticed this when staying at Walt Disney World during Hurricane Dorian. Regardless, It’s still very important for Central Flordia residents to be prepared for strong winds, flying debris, excessive rain, business closures, and extended power outages. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the National Hurricane Center for the most up-to-date information on tropical cyclone developments, forecasts and weather alerts, and discussions analyzing storm data.
Here are helpful links, resources, and tips to weather the storm.
The Most Important Tip
Be prepared, not panicked!
Preparing Your Home
- Secure outdoor items such as yard decorations, patio furniture, grills and garbage cans
- Store important documents in waterproof containers
- Turn the fridge and freezer to the coldest setting, so they stay cold longer if you lose power
- Ensure your generator has fuel and is ready for use
- Back up personal computers and devices in case of loss
- If you do not have an external drive, back up files to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Drive
- For insurance purposes, take photos or video of each room in your home as well as valuables
- All you need is your cell phone! Walk slowly through each room narrating an inventory. Upload it to the cloud so it’s available if you need it.
- Trim large or dead tree limbs which could fall and hit your home
- Dispose of the yard debris before the storm hits as downed branches can become projectiles
- If high winds are forecast in your area, protect your windows
- Install hurricane shutters or build your own hurricane shutters by following this step-by-step guide
It’s important to keep a well-stocked hurricane kit handy. For a basic kit checklist and additional resources, Highland Homes offers a great resource on Creating Your Florida Hurricane Checklist.
You don’t need to rush out and buy stock in bottled water. Here are other ideas for keeping clean water on hand, as well as additional hurricane prep tips from life-long Floridians.
- Bathroom needs – Fill your bathtubs with water (clean the tub first)
- Use small buckets of water to flush toilets, wash hands, and clean up as needed
- Note – Be careful to keep the bathroom door secure if you have pets or young children
- If you have a pool, pool water can also be used to flush the toilet
- Drinking water
- Plan for one gallon, per person, per day – and don’t forget your pets need water, too!
- Fill up clean, seal-able containers with tap water – Buckets, reusable water bottles, thermoses, etc.
- Ice – Fill gallon freezer bags with ice and have them stored in the freezer
- Electronics – Fully charge all laptops, phones, tablets, etc. and, if possible, have extra battery packs on hand
- Batteries – Make sure all flashlights have fresh batteries, and extras on hand
- Batteries are an item which tend to sell out quickly when a storm is coming – check “out of the box” stores such as Dollar Tree, Best Buy, Party City, etc.
Visit your County’s Emergency Management website to stay informed with the latest local emergency information and updates, and find your evacuation zone and routes, sandbag locations, and emergency shelters.
- Hillsborough County Emergency Information
- Lake County Emergency Information
- Manatee County Emergency Information
- Marion County Emergency Information
- Orange County Emergency Information
- Osceola County Emergency Information
- Pasco County Emergency Information
- Pinellas County Emergency Information
- Polk County Emergency Information
- Sarasota County Emergency Information
For additional County shelters and information, visit floridadisaster.org or call the Florida Emergency Information Line at 1-800-342-3557.
While Central Florida doesn’t usually see an evacuation order, make sure you are aware of your evacuation zone and routes and have a plan, especially if you live in a low-lying or flood-prone area, or mobile home.
Before you hit the road, make sure you:
- Have a destination
- Are familiar with travel routes
- Take your emergency supply kit – make sure to include supplies for pets!
- Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car
Visit the ready.gov website for additional evacuation planning tips.
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay offers a comprehensive Animal Disaster Kit.
If evacuating, make sure you know which shelters are pet friendly (check your County Emergency website listed above) and bring the proper documentation such as proof of vaccinations, registration tags, a carrier, and supplies. A shelter should be your last resort if you cannot find another accommodation for you or your pet – if possible find a pet-friendly hotel, boarding kennel, or have friends or family to shelter your pet.
Pet preparedness tips:
- Have a supply kit for each animal
- No matter what happens, do not leave your pet(s) alone if you evacuate
- Be sure all pets are wearing a collar with ID and vaccination tags in case they get out
- Make sure microchip information is up to date with your current contact info
- Pet water – Fill bowls and freeze; defrost for your pet as needed
- Doggy tip from Florida Boxer Rescue – Place pieces of sod in a kiddie pool and put it in your garage so pup has a safe place to potty during the storm
- Never let your dog out in the yard where he/she could get spooked or escape
For more information on what to do, where to go, and how to plan for the hurricane season, visit www.FEMA.gov, www.ready.gov/hurricane, and www.floridadisaster.org.
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