Making sure you and your loved ones will survive the storm is a year-round task that requires attention to your personal business, your family members, your home and your vehicles. It is not a task that can be done in just 24 hours, so start your planning now!
Complete a disaster plan BEFORE the chaos of an approaching hurricane to be sure you have time to do it right. Do home improvements during the cooler days of the year. Pack your Emergency Survival Kits before June 1st to be sure you have what you need. Organize important papers so you can grab them quickly.
The information below and links to resources will assist you in your planning, but how well you do it is up to you. Take the time to prepare ahead, you'll be glad you did.
What To Do In the Workplace:
Be sure you know what to do when an evacuation order is issued during the work day. Both you and your employer should have a plan that is talked about in advance.
Things to do:
If you do not need to evacuate, offer to host a co-worker who must evacuate
Is your insurance ready?
Getting your insurance ready for hurricane season is an important preparedness step. Not only having insurance – but having the right amount and the right kind – can mean the difference between a smooth recovery and one full of challenges. That’s why it’s important to check with your insurance agent to discuss the type of coverage you need and the amounts you should have.
If you have specific questions about your policy, be sure to speak with your agent, or visit these online resources.
Don’t wait another minute! Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy and review exactly what coverage you have.
Ask yourself these four important questions:
Homeowners should check with their insurance agents to determine what improvements could offer discounts on their hurricane insurance premium. Some companies offer rate reductions for reinforcements to the roof, garage, windows and doors.
Homeowners can find a great deal of information about their insurance policies by checking with the state’s Department of Financial Services. Call (800) 342-2762 or visit www.fldfs.com
One of the most important things to include in your emergency survival kit is your prescription medications. But, what happens when an emergency is declared and your insurance company claims it is too early for you to get a refill? In 2006, the Legislature passed the Emergency Prescription Refill bill (Florida Statute 252.358 and 462.0275). This law requires all insurers and managed-care organizations to suspend refill-too-soon restrictions when a patient seeks a refill in a county:
This law also allows patients outside of these areas to get an emergency 72- hour refill if the pharmacist is unable to readily obtain refill authorization from the doctor. Please talk with your doctor and pharmacist now about how this new law can affect your prescriptions. Make sure you are ready this hurricane season. In addition to having a supply of your medications on hand, keep a list of each one you take, including the name of the doctor who wrote the prescription, the name of the drug, dosage instructions and the name of the pharmacy where you had it filled.
Important Documents: Document Checklist
If you were ordered to evacuate from your home for a hurricane, could you easily and quickly collect all of your important documents for transport? Your important papers include everything from your driver’s license to your homeowner’s insurance policy. By spending some time now, you can ensure that you will have everything you need if you must evacuate. Personal papers to take with you:
Preparing your home to withstand high winds can mean the difference between minor and major repairs after a hurricane. That’s why it’s so important to strengthen your home to resist high winds.
Some key tips:
Windows And Doors:
Set Up A Safe Room:
FEMA websites on Safe Rooms:
If you don’t have to evacuate and plan to weather a hurricane at home, set up a safe room for you and your family in case your home is damaged. This is also a good place to store emergency supplies, important papers and battery-powered radios.
Make sure the room has a solid-core door with heavy duty hinges for greater protection. Use long screws to ensure the hinges are anchored securely. Installing a deadbolt lock, like those found on entry doors, will further help protect you and your family.
Where your safe room should be located depends upon how many levels are in your home or building.
Mobile & Manufactured Homes:
While mobile and manufactured homes are great places to call home, they are NEVER good shelters during a hurricane. Mobile and manufactured homes can be severely damaged from the hurricane-force winds and flying debris. This was proved true again during the storms of 2004 and 2005 when homes built after 1994, to the tougher standards, sustained damage when they were flipped off their foundations or damaged by flying debris. No matter the category of storm, whenever an evacuation order is given, all mobile and manufactured home residents must evacuate. Mobile and manufactured home residents need to have an evacuation plan in case a hurricane threatens. One word of caution – most mobile home park recreation centers are not rated to withstand high winds, either. Ask your park’s management what plans – if any – are in place for sheltering options and for evacuation notification.
Annual maintenance should include checking your tie down and anchoring system to help keep debris down during a storm.
Mobile homes are not safe havens
If a hurricane sets its sights on Pinellas County, condominium owners need to be ready to weather the storm. Click here for more information.
Renters Need A Plan Too:
As a storm approaches, homeowners are urged to prepare their homes to withstand heavy winds. But, what should you do if you rent?
Just as with homeowners, you have a responsibility to create a personal hurricane plan. By finding out now what you will need to do, you may save your life when a storm threatens.
Getting your yard ready to weather the storm can help keep you and your home safe. High winds can turn even the heaviest items into deadly projectiles that can break through your windows, doors and even walls. To prepare:
During a weather emergency, you will rely on your vehicle to get supplies, provide a cool blast of air-conditioning and recharge your cell phone. Vehicle maintenance tips:
Boat owners need to have a plan to secure and protect their boats from hurricanes. See boat safety page.
Checklist - Printable:
Retrofit Guides and Info:
For those who need to evacuate, but don’t have their own transportation, a hurricane can cause anxiety. Pinellas County officials want to make sure that everyone can get to safe shelter.
If you don’t require special needs transport, PSTA buses will run nearly all their routes until it’s no longer safe to travel. PSTA will attempt to operate all routes until winds reach tropical storm force (40mph). Routes may be modified. During an evacuation, buses will also run from transfer stations to local shelters. All rides are free during an evacuation. Be prepared in advance by locating your nearest bus stop. Some people may not qualify for special needs transport, cannot ride the bus and have no other means of transportation to evacuate. If you are in that situation, contact your local fire department or the Department of Emergency Management, in advance, for special assistance. Take advantage of the help that is there for you. Don’t stay in a dangerous situation just because you don’t have your own ride. (Call the PSTA Info Line (727) 540-1900. For current route information during a storm go to www.psta.net/weatheralert.html.
If you have special needs, please sign up for the special needs registry, you will then be asked about your transportation plans. If you need a ride to a shelter, your local fire department will be in contact with you to make arrangements when the time comes to evacuate.
If you are taking your own personal transportation to leave town, be sure you are leaving enough time to get to your final destination. Roads get crowded and traffic jams can put you in danger because a hurricane can take many different paths through the state. When a HURRICANE WATCH is issued, you need to be packing your car and ready to leave as soon as the WARNING is issued.
There are convenient ways for motorists to receive this up-to-date traffic information:
- Visit FL511.com , with interactive roadway maps showing traffic congestion, travel times and crashes.
- Call 511 toll free for updates in English and Spanish.
- Download the free Florida 511 mobile app available for iPhone and Android devices.
- Follow one of the 12 statewide, regional or roadway-specific FL511 feeds on Twitter.
Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center
Department of Emergency Management
Citizen Information Center
(during an emergency activation call (727) 464-4333)