Hurricane Season Heating Up: Prepare Now
September is National Preparedness Month and marks the start of peak hurricane season. With a rapidly developing Tropical Storm Ian in the Caribbean, the time to prepare is now.
If you are already prepared for a hurricane, continue to stay informed and remain vigilant. If you aren't prepared, act now. Hurricane season continues through Nov. 30.
The most important step you can take is to remain alert by signing up for Hillsborough County's HCFL Alert system, which provides emergency alerts for severe weather, hurricane evacuations, and flood warnings. HCFL Alert also provides Hillsborough County information on major road closures, County events, County closures, and more.
Here are five important steps to take now to become hurricane-prepared:
Step 1: Have 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. Visit the Stay Safe page to review Hillsborough County's Disaster Guide and see other tools that can be used to help make a plan. The Florida Division of Emergency Management has additional information and resources.
Step 2: Prepare supplies
Stock your disaster supply kit with nonperishable food, pet supplies, batteries, flashlights, and water. The supply kit should have enough supplies to last each individual and pet in your group for at least seven days. The kit can also include important documents, such as banking information, medical records, and copies of birth and marriage certificates. Visit the Stay Safe page or the Florida Division of Emergency Management's Disaster Supply Kit Checklist page to learn more.
Step 3: Know your zone
Learn and understand the difference between evacuation and flood zones. Evacuation zones are areas that may be ordered to evacuate during a storm, and indicate areas that could be affected by storm surge. Flood zones signal a property's risk for flooding throughout the year. Use the tools on the Stay Safe page to find your evacuation and flood zones in Hillsborough County. Also, take time to prepare your property by cleaning rain gutters and drainpipes, trimming limbs and shrubs, and removing trees with rotting trunks located near the home. Learn more by visiting the Florida Division of Emergency Management's Plan & Prepare page.
Step 4: Protect your family
Make certain your preparation plan and checklist meet the needs of your children and elderly relatives, including specialty foods, clothes, medicines, and other specific items tailored to them. And don't forget about pets. They are a part of the family and will need food, medicine, and other essentials to get through the uncertainty of a storm just like everyone else in the family. Learn more on the Stay Safe page and the Florida Division of Emergency Management's Plan & Prepare page.
Step 5: Review your plan
Go over your readiness plan and all the preparations you have made with loved ones. By making a plan that includes your children, elderly family members, pets, and a disaster supply kit, and reviewing your evacuation zone and routes, you'll be prepared for the remainder of this hurricane season.