It’s mid-May, and most of us are thinking about the end of the school year, summer vacations, beaches, pools, and lots of other fun things. But May is also the perfect time to start preparing for hurricane season, which starts June 1. Taking just a few simple steps now will help you prepare for a hurricane and ensure you’re not caught off-guard if a storm does come our way.
Lessons From Irma
Flashback to September, 2017. Hurricane Irma appeared to be taking aim on Florida, with most forecast tracks showing it slinking right up the center of the state. Here in the Tampa Bay area, we faced the prospect of property damage, lack of adequate food and water, and possibly extended periods without power. With only days to prepare for a hurricane, people started to panic. Stores ran out of bottled water and other supplies, leaving empty shelves and frayed nerves.
Fortunately, we weathered the storm with minimal damage. But we can take some important lessons from that experience to prepare for a hurricane now instead of waiting until a storm is on our doorstep.
Prepare for a Hurricane By Planning Ahead
I know this isn’t something we want to think about. Besides, it might not even happen, right? A major hurricane hasn’t hit the Tampa Bay area in most of our lifetimes. But as long as it could happen, we need to prepare for a hurricane – and the sooner, the better. And good for you for already thinking ahead! You’re going to plan now so you’re not one of the people staring at rows and rows of empty shelves in the days before a storm.
Check Your Zone
Most of us have a pretty good idea as to whether or not we live in an evacuation zone. Generally, the closer to the coast, the more likely you’ll need to evacuate. But the evacuation zones may be broader than you think. Check your county maps carefully, and note which zone you live in. Then, as a hurricane approaches and evacuations start, you’ll know what to do.
County Evacuation Zones: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, Hernando, Citrus
Trim the Trees
Even tropical storms pack enough punch to send tree branches flying, so be sure to trim them when you prepare for a hurricane. I’d hire a licensed professional for this task, since they know just how much of your trees to trim away. Plus, it’s a lot safer that way!
In addition, pay attention to your other landscaping. Do you have any ornaments or potted plants that can blow away? Just take note for now and remember to bring them inside if a storm approaches.
Know Where You’ll Go
If you do need to leave, decide now where you plan to ride out the storm. Friends of mine drove all the way to Alabama last year during Irma. My brother already knows that if a hurricane is on the way, my son and I are showing up at his doorstep. If you have pets, make sure you identify pet-friendly hotels (or relatives!) now. Also, if you can help it, try to use a public shelter only as a last resort. They’re crowded and uncomfortable, and only offer basic necessities. A shelter is there if you need it, but at this point, you still have lots of alternatives as you prepare for a hurricane.
Stock Up: Buy in Bulk
If you’re not in an evacuation zone and plan to stay in your home, this is the time to build your hurricane kit. My fellow Tampa Bay Moms Blog writer Alisha shared her lessons from Hurricane Irma last year. Be sure to check out her great tips on buying some of your necessities in bulk to prepare for a hurricane.
After you collect your supplies, pack them away in a large plastic bin or clear a shelf or two in the pantry. You can stack bottles of water in the garage or on the floor of an unused closet. In addition, if you happen to have supplies left over from last year, go through and toss anything expired.
With these advance hurricane prep tips, you’re off to a pretty good start. For even more information, check out the links below.
Finally, be informed, and be safe this hurricane season.