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Before the Storm

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The hurricane season begins June 1 and ends on November 30. However, hurricanes can form at any time during the year. Being prepared for a storm is more than half the battle. Here are some tips on what to do before a storm hits.

Before a Hurricane Watch or Warning Is Announced

  • Check to be certain your emergency equipment is in good working order and that you have enough supplies to last at least two weeks.
  • Obtain and store materials necessary to properly secure your home.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your home. When trimming, try to create a channel through the foliage to the center of the tree to allow for air flow.
  • Note: Do not trim trees and shrubs after a watch or warning is announced. Trash pick-ups will be suspended and your trimmings can become dangerous airborne projectiles propelled by the storm’s high winds.
  • State officials have recommended that residents who live in adequately built homes stay in their homes. It is recommended that you choose an interior room separated by two walls from the outside.
  • Keep a list of prescribed medications and include them in your food and water storage plans.
  • Review your insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage.

Make Sure Your Home Is Well Stocked

Keep these supplies at home during the June through November hurricane season. It is recommended that you keep them in a separate "Disaster Kit".

  • Can opener (non-electric)
  • Matches
  • Canned or packaged foods, milk and beverages (two-week non-perishable food supply)
  • Extra prescription medicine
  • Baby food, diapers and formula
  • First-aid kit
  • Portable cooler
  • Water (for drinking purposes, two quarts per person, per day; fill bathtub and other containers for sanitary usage)
  • Toiletries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Emergency cooking facilities
  • 3/4" plywood boards or shutters to cover windows
  • Lantern with batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Bleach (without lemon or any other additives)
  • Water purification tablets (can be purchased at pharmacy)
  • Insect (mosquito) repellent

Additional items that you may want to include:

  • Tools, including hammer and nails
  • Tarps (canvas or plastic)
  • Inflatable raft
  • Life preservers
  • Sleeping bags and blankets
  • Trash bags
  • Duct tape
  • Mosquito netting or screening to cover openings

Plan Evacuation Alternatives Now

  • Evacuations are scheduled by county and City officials. If you are instructed to evacuate, have a plan.
  • If you expect to evacuate your home in the event of a hurricane, plan in advance where you will stay, how you will get there, and what supplies you will take.
  • If you need transportation to a public shelter due to a "special need" such as a physical disability or a neurological or psychological disorder, register with the County Office of Emergency Management in advance. Do not wait until a storm approaches.
  • If you or a family member receives home health care or depends on electrical life-support equipment, discuss emergency plans with your agency representative. Check with your physician and, if necessary, make arrangements now with a hospital or special needs shelter to stay there if you must evacuate.

After a Hurricane Watch Is Announced

Food and Water

Turn your refrigerator and freezer to its coldest setting. Freeze water in plastic jugs such as milk containers and use them to fill empty space to keep food cool. Store at least two weeks worth of drinking water (seven gallons per person).


  • Begin placing your shutters or installing pre-cut plywood over your windows, sliding doors, or French doors.
  • Do not drain your swimming pool completely. Lower the water level to accommodate heavy rains, but no more than one foot. Turn off the electricity to pool equipment. If the filter pump is exposed, wrap it with a waterproof covering and tie securely. Add extra chlorine to the pool to prevent contamination.
  • Bring in objects that can be blown away, such as garbage cans, garden tools, furniture and plants. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Prepare your vehicle and fill your fuel tank early.
  • Place valuables and personal papers in waterproof containers and store them in the most secure possible spot.
  • If you own a small boat on a trailer, store it in the garage or a warehouse.

Be Prepared to Implement Your Evacuation Plan With Your Family

  • If you decide to evacuate, leave early to avoid heavy traffic and roads blocked by early floodwaters. As a last resort, go to a Red Cross shelter. Hurricane shelters will be available for people who have no other place to go.
  • If you must seek public shelter, listen to radio and TV for announcements of which shelters will be open. Eat before leaving home. Remember: do not go to a shelter until you hear a media announcement that it is open. The Red Cross opens shelters and sometimes those shelters may be filled with people traveling from other locations. Listen for announcements as to not only what shelters have been opened, but what shelters have reached capacity.

Shelter Supplies

Do not leave your home for a shelter until government officials announce on radio and/or television that a particular shelter is open. Shelters fill up rapidly and you may be directed to an alternate one.

  • First-aid kit
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Medicine, prescription and over-the-counter
  • Flashlight (per person)
  • Baby food, diapers and formula
  • Extra batteries
  • Cards, games, books
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Toiletries
  • Identification, valuable papers (insurance), cash
  • Food and snacks for each member of the family (shelters do not have food provisions except for shelter workers.)

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