Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Here is some things that you need to know for the stormy season.

In Pinellas County, we enjoy year-round sunshine and warm weather with abundant water surrounding us on three sides. But, living in paradise comes with its share of hazards. Each year, from June 1 to Nov. 30, catastrophic hurricanes can develop within a matter of days with enough destructive wind and waves to put much of our peninsula underwater. During any season, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods and other perils can strike any corner of our community.

For more information, visit

Barrier island communities have “Re-entry Permits” and you must have one to return. Check with your local government to obtain one.

5 Steps To Prepare For All Hazards

  • CONNECT to vital emergency information about dangerous weather and other hazards.
  • BUILD a survival kit with the things you’ll need to survive without everyday necessities.
  • ASSESS your risk from storms and other perils or emergencies.
  • PLAN where you’ll go and what you’ll do in an emergency.
  • RECOVER after a disaster by taking safety precautions and requesting help.

Your county government works with municipal, state and federal partners to ensure residents and visitors are warned of life-threatening hazards; preparing for these dangers is everyone’s responsibility. In daily life, we all rely on basic services such as electricity, running water and safe roadways to access food, medical care and other necessities. Imagine living for days or even weeks without these essentials as emergency crews work to clean up after a hurricane or other disaster.

Surviving The Storm Is YOUR Responsibilty

  • Know your evacuation zone.
  • Contact your city (and check the website) and make sure that If you live at the beach, you have the right papers to get back on the beach if you are evacuated.
  • If you live in a mobile home, know that you will be among the first to evacuate.
  • Know where you will go and have a plan. Be sure to let your family and friends know where you will go.
  • Take photos and make an inventory now of your valuables.
  • Have a checklist of your important papers, copies and a month’s supply of med as well as cash in case of a storm
  • Have a storm checklist and stock up.
  • Set up emergency alerts on your mobile phone.
  • Know where the local shelters are, and if you have a pet, know which shelters accept animals.
  • Assemble a emergency survival kit that provides for your family’s needs for a minimum of one week and include your Personal Disaster Plan pdf file.
  • If you have to evacuate, find out now where you will be going should an order be issued.If you don’t have to evacuate, prepare shutters to protect your windows and brace your entry doors and garage door.

Plan What You’ll Do

During the chaos of an approaching storm, you may not have time to think through what you and your family members must do to get to a safe place together. While you can’t plan for every possibility, it’s important to answer three questions before a disaster.

  1. WHO WILL I CONTACT? How would I reach my loved ones if my phone did not work in an emergency? Do I have important numbers written down and stored in a safe place? Has my family talked about how we would reconnect if an evacuation was called while we were separated?
  2. WHERE WILL I GO? If there’s a tornado warning in your area, have you identified a “safe room” in your home where you can hunker down? If you had to evacuate for a hurricane, would you try to drive out of town or to a friend’s house in a safer area? In what situations would it be safe to stay home instead of trying to leave?
  3. HOW WILL I GET THERE? If you have to leave your home in a hurry, is your car ready for a long trip? • Do you have emergency supplies in your vehicle? Can you take public transportation to a shelter? Remember to take important documents with you (insurance, deeds, documentation…)

DRIVERS: Be aware that during a large-scale disaster, such as a hurricane, you may encounter heavy traffic on the limited routes out of Pinellas County. Fill up your gas tank and keep emergency supplies in your car.

BUS RIDERS: In an emergency, PSTA will run nearly all routes until it is no longer safe. All rides are free during a hurricane evacuation. Buses will also run from transfer stations to local shelters during an evacuation. Call the PSTA InfoLine at (727) 540-1900. Route information during a storm will also be posted at

NO TRANSPORTATION: The county offers transportation for special needs residents. If you don’t qualify and can’t ride the bus, contact your local fi re department or Emergency Management in advance for help. Don’t stay in a dangerous situat

Survival Kit Checklist

Imagine life without power, water or safe roads to take you to the grocery store. Think through what you and your family members would need in a disaster to get by for an extended period of time. A large plastic storage bin in your garage can hold most of the things you’ll need.\

Basic Necessities

  • One-week supply of fluids to drink and nonperishable food that doesn’t require cooking, e.g. dried fruit, canned tuna fish, peanut butter, etc.
  • Water – at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking/hygiene
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils
  • Cooler with ice
  • Utility knife
  • Clothing/Bedding
  • One change of clothes and shoes per person
  • Rain gear
  • Sturdy work shoes
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Flashlight or lantern
  • Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio
  • Cell phone with charger, extra battery and solar charger
  • Contacts in mobile device and in print for backup
  • Extra batteries
  • Matches or lighter in waterproof container
  • Insect repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Rope or elastic cord
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Tools, including wrench to shut off water
  • Map with shelter locations
  • Paper and pencil
  • Tarps
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape to help fi lter contaminated air Health and Sanitation
  • First aid supplies – antibacterial hand gel, soap, over-the-counter pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medicine/laxative, anti-itch cream, antiseptic
  • Sanitation – toilet paper, hygiene supplies, e.g. towelettes, feminine supplies
  • Portable toilet – 5-gallon bucket with lid, trash bags, chlorine bleach
  • Household chlorine bleach with medicine dropper to disinfect or treat water
  • Do not use scented, color safe or bleach with added cleaners
  • Cash or travelers checks
  • Books, cards, board games for entertainment
  • Full tank of gas in vehicle


If you’re staying in a public shelter, picture yourself sleeping every night in a room full of people in a space that only measures about 2.5 feet by 7 feet and pack accordingly. If you are evacuating to stay with friends or relatives in a host home, take a “go bag” and ask in advance what supplies you can bring and what kind of space you’ll have for possessions and vehicles.

“Go Bag” Suggestions

  • Vital papers & ID
  • Cash
  • Phone number list
  • Medications and copies of prescription paperwork
  • Eyeglasses
  • Non-perishable food/snacks
  • Bedding
  • Hygiene items
  • Change of clothes, rain gear
  • Kids’ supplies and entertainment


If you had to leave your home in a hurry, do you have backup copies of your personal documents? Are they stored in a safe place?

  • Driver license or ID card
  • Important numbers and emergency contacts
  • Medical records – pharmacy prescription record, doctors, medications, dosages, blood type
  • Insurance policy numbers – home, health, flood, auto, renters • Household inventory for insurance claims – photo documentation stored on backup drive
  • Other irreplaceable papers – e.g. birth, marriage, divorce, death and adoption certificates, passports, military records, wills, trust documents, titles to house or cars
  • Account numbers for bank, credit cards, savings and investments


Restrictions on refilling medications early are suspended by state law during hurricane warnings, when the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center is activated or when the governor has declared a state of emergency. Make sure you get a refill immediately if you may need it.

FYI: Thanks to Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center – Department of Emergency Management for the tips in this article. For more information contact 727-464-3800 During an emergency activation call the Citizen Information Center at (727) 464-4333.

Suggestion: Make a checklist of everything that is necessary for survival. Before there is a storm, do a REHEARSAL to see how long it takes to collect necessary items, secure your home, get cash, fill tank with fuel and leave the area. This will give you an idea of time needed to prepare yourself, family and pets to evacuate. Remember, pets are not allowed in public shelters.

Article By Nanette Wiser

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