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Public Safety Tip: Your Hurricane Checklist

April 30, 2024
Trees during a hurricane with the text, Public Safety Tip: Your Hurricane Checklist

As summer approaches, so does the annual arrival of hurricane season, observed from June 1 to November 30. While this time of year can bring anxiety for Florida residents, many of whom have witnessed devastating storms, making emergency plans and gathering supplies can help you feel calmer and more prepared.

Here’s a quick hurricane checklist to help you prepare for anything this hurricane season brings.

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

As with any emergency, the best time to prepare is now and not after disaster strikes. Review this hurricane preparation checklist to ensure you have everything you need.

  • Create an Emergency Plan. Creating an emergency evacuation plan ensures you and your loved ones are prepared in the event of a hurricane or any other natural or manmade disaster. You need to know where to go, what supplies to bring and how you will stay in contact. Read more about creating an emergency evacuation plan here.
  • Prepare an Emergency Kit. Assemble an emergency kit with essentials such as water, non-perishable food, medications, first aid supplies, flashlight, batteries, important documents, cash and personal hygiene items. The American Red Cross provided a helpful and comprehensive list for putting together your emergency kit – you can read it here.
  • Review Insurance Policies. Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies to understand coverage for wind and flood damage.
  • Stay Informed. Monitor weather updates through local news, the radio or weather apps. Familiarize yourself with hurricane terminology and warnings. For instance, knowing the difference between a hurricane watch (hurricane conditions are possible in the area) and hurricane warning (hurricane conditions are expected in the area).

Making these preparations in advance will allow you to stay calm and collected in the event of a hurricane.

Hurricane Checklist: During a Hurricane Watch

So, the local authorities have issued a hurricane watch for your area – what do you do now?

  • First, check your emergency kit and supplies. As mentioned above, be sure  you have a sufficient supply of food, water, medications and other essentials to last several days.  You should also prepare a pet emergency kit with food, water, medications, leashes, carriers and identification tags. Research pet-friendly shelters or hotels in case of evacuation. 
  • Next, take the first steps to prepare your home for a storm. Bring outdoor furniture, decorations, toys and other items such as garbage cans indoors. Anything that can’t be tied down should come inside.
  • Local authorities may recommend covering  windows with wood or shutters. Some homeowners apply tape to their windows to reduce the amount of shattering if they break from wind or debris but be aware that tape most likely will not prevent breakage altogether.
  • Fill your vehicles’ gas tanks in case of evacuation or power outages. Don’t wait until the last minute as gas stations frequently run out as residents make rushed preparations. You should also fill gas cans if you have a generator.
  • Finally, you can fill bathtubs with water to use for bathing and flushing toilets (but not drinking).

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane warning has been issued, follow any evacuation orders issued by local authorities. If evacuating, leave early and follow designated evacuation routes. Inform family and friends of your evacuation plans and destination, and don’t forget to secure windows and doors before leaving.

If you aren’t evacuating, remain indoors during the hurricane, avoiding windows, doors and exterior walls. Take shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor.

While the situation may be stressful, do your best to stay calm and follow instructions. Keep updated on the storm’s progress through local news and weather updates.

After the Storm

It’s important to continue following instructions from local officials in the aftermath of the storm. Avoid flooded areas, downed power lines and debris. If you evacuated, use caution when returning home and inspecting damage.

When it is safe to do so, assess damage to your property and take photographs for insurance claims. Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process. Be sure to check on neighbors, especially elderly or vulnerable individuals, to ensure their safety and well-being.

Finally, be patient during the recovery process. It may take time for utilities to be restored and services to resume. If you find yourself without power for a period of time, the CDC has put together this helpful guide with important information for power outages.

Stay Safe with FSA

During a hurricane or other natural disaster, your sheriff will work directly with local, state and federal public safety officials. We recommend that you add finding and saving the sheriff’s office contact information to your hurricane checklist.

The Florida Sheriffs Association is committed to helping you stay informed and safe. You can read more crime and public safety tips here.