Don't be Fooled by the Slow Start to Storm Season: Now is the Time to Prepare
September marks the midpoint of hurricane season. September is also recognized as Florida Preparedness Month, which is observed every year by the state of Florida and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Although this year there haven't been any storms threatening Hillsborough County, this is not the time to let your guard down.
If you are already prepared for a hurricane, continue to stay informed and remain vigilant. If you aren't prepared, it is never too late to get ready for hurricane season, which continues through Nov. 30.
A great way to stay alert is by signing up for Hillsborough County's HCFL Alert system, which provides emergency alerts for severe weather, hurricane evacuations, flood warnings, and more.
Preparing for a hurricane doesn't have to be done overnight. The Florida Division of Emergency Management recommends that residents use the month of September to create a plan and use each week to achieve a goal that helps them reach hurricane preparedness.
Here are steps to take throughout the month of September to become hurricane prepared:
Start the first week by making a plan. Having a plan for every scenario is the best way to reduce your risk in case of a disaster. Where do you go if you have to evacuate? What should you do if you are sheltering in place? What about your business? What should you have packed and ready? What is in your disaster kit? Plans should be specific to each household or business. Review Hillsborough County's Disaster Guide and see other tools that can be used to help make a plan.
During the week of Sept. 5, stock your disaster supply kit with nonperishable food, pet supplies, batteries, flashlights, and water. The supply kits must have enough supplies to last each individual and pet in your group for at least seven days. The supply kit can also include important documents, such as banking information, medical records, and copies of birth and marriage certificates.
For the week of Sept. 12, learn and understand the difference between evacuation and flood zones. Evacuation zones are areas that may be ordered to evacuate during a hurricane and indicate areas that could be affected by storm surge. Flood zones indicate a property's risk for flooding throughout the year. Find your evacuation zone and flood zone in Hillsborough County.
Also, take time this week to prepare your property by cleaning rain gutters and drainpipes. Trim limbs and shrubs, and remove trees with rotting trunks that are located near the home.
During the week of Sept. 19, make certain that the plan and checklist include the needs of your children and elderly relatives, including specialty foods, clothes, medicines, and other specific items. And don't forget about the pets. They are a part of the family and will need food, medicine, and other essentials to get through the uncertainty of a hurricane just like everyone else in the family.
And for the week of Sept. 26, review your game plan and all the preparations that you have made. By making a plan that includes your children, elderly family members, and pets, creating a disaster supply kit, and reviewing your evacuation zone and routes, you'll feel prepared the remainder of this hurricane season.