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Hurricane Checklist for Tampa Bay Residents

Jun 07, 2019

If ever there was a time to pull out the hurricane checklist, it’s now, guys. Living in Florida, we risk an onslaught every year. On the other hand, of course, we might not see a drop of rain from one.

It goes either way or falls somewhere in between.

We don’t want to throw any jinxes out there, but the national weather so far this year has wreaked a lot of havoc! Maybe we should take a better safe than sorry sort of stance.

Just in case.

Same time, same station

Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th every year.

Even though the peak season isn’t until September, a hurricane can blow in anytime. If you live on or near the coastline, your home could find itself in the midst of one. Depending on storm strength, they can come up to 100 miles inland. The torrential rains are often picked up by inland winds and carried much farther.

Granted, that doesn’t mean we are under relentless attack, by any means. However, taking steps now to make sure you’re prepared is a good idea.

Speaking of Stations

You need to stay informed. Local stations will be broadcasting information that you need to know when you need to know it.

News radio, 970WFLA online has a podcast titled Operation Storm Watch. It airs every week through the season and is dedicated to all things hurricane. Survival tips, results of past hurricanes, and resources that are made available to the public are some of the information you will glean win you tune in.

During a hurricane, you can rely on 970WFLA news radio to broadcast pertinent information as it becomes available.

In addition, 970WFLA’s sister station, WFLA News Channel 8, is just as focused on keeping you informed. In addition to constantly updating during a storm, click the weather tab now. You will find two links dedicated to the topic of the season. Hurricanes and Tracking The Tropics, a forecast for the tropics, are available to you 24/7.

Family first

We’re putting this right at the top. If evacuation is suggested, we suggest you hit the highway! Technology today gives ample warning of hurricanes heading for the shoreline. Albeit, sometimes the point of contact is off due to the erratic wind shifts. All in all, though, the forecasters get pretty specific.

After the evacuation problems encountered by many as Hurricane Irma came closer to shore, Tampa Bay officials are working to prevent this from ever happening again. Improvement of both evacuation routes and key infrastructure is ongoing.

Do you have your evacuation route planned?

Some points to consider, other than your escape route, are:

  • Know your evacuation zone
  • If you’re ordered to get out, sooner is better
  • If you’re not in an evacuation zone, consider weathering the storm at home. It keeps you off the roads entirely.
  • Once on the road, consider driving to a safe place within Florida rather than trying to get out entirely. Less road time equals less congestion.

Your family’s safety is the number one concern. Do not hesitate to go if you are told to evacuate.

Moreover, never walk or drive through flood waters.

We don’t care how deep it looks.

It just isn’t worth the risk.

Riding the storm out

If you’ve made the decision to stay put, we found a great list of the things that you need to have on hand.

Zero-Prep Food:

  • 1 Gallon of drinking water per day per person
  • Dry cereal
  • Canned fruits
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned juice
  • Ready to eat canned soups and meats
  • Canned pasta
  • Canned beans
  • Peanut Butter
  • Bread
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Granola and energy bars

Minimal-Prep Food:

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Seasoning
  • Oats


  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Moist towelettes
  • Garbage bags
  • Dish soap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates and cups
  • Plastic utensils
  • Food storage bags or containers
  • Flashlight
  • Tool kit
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Rain gear
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Rope
  • Duct tape
  • Grill
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter
  • Lighter fluid
  • Cash
  • Manual can opener
  • Fully-charged cell phone
  • Strike-anywhere matches

Pet Supplies

  • Pet food
  • Leash and collar
  • Water and food bowls
  • Carrier

Baby Supplies

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Formula or baby food
  • Bottles
  • Rash ointment

Now that we have that covered, Homeland Security lists an explicit checklist right down to the zero-hour.

Let’s take a broad look at that list, shall we?

Right now

If you are a newcomer to Tampa Bay, learn your surroundings. Even if you aren’t, things change. Have you kept abreast of any changes in your area?

Here are a few questions you should know the answers too:

  • Is your home hurricane resistant?
  • Are you at risk for flash flooding when the rains begin?
  • Do you know where the hurricane shelters are located in the area?
  • Where will you go when the storm hits?
  • Have you beefed up your windows and doors?

At home

If you are remaining in place rather than evacuating, which area of your home is the safest? Have your family practice going there.

It should be a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of your home. Avoid the basement, though, if it’s prone to flooding.

Carbon dioxide is deadly and often undetected. Subsequently, if you have a back-up generator, only use it outside and place it away from windows.

Stock up

You should have a three day supply of everything on hand. That’s FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) take on it anyway. However, better safe than sorry certainly applies here. If you’ve ever gone through a hurricane, you know that three days after, things are still a huge mess! Consequently, having a larger stockpile is a good idea.

Consider each person’s individual needs when gathering your supplies. We’ll repeat that clothes, medications, food, and water are the essentials. That includes your pets!

Flashlights and batteries go on the list, for sure! Moreover, we’ll note here that if you have your batteries stored away to break out in the event of an emergency, you need to check them periodically to make sure they are still useable. Also, if you lose power for days, you’re likely to be living without that phone for a time. An emergency alert radio is an essential “just in case” item. Don’t leave it off your list.

Do you have children? Comfort items make all the difference. In addition, don’t forget to have items on hand to keep them busy. Distracting them from what’s going on outside relieves fear and anxiety.

Lastly, if there are items you just can’t live without, Grandma’s diamond broach or fudge recipe, for instance, grab them.

Hunters vs. gatherers

Rushing around trying to find all the important papers and documents that you need to keep on hand can be overwhelming at the last second.

Instead, take some time to gather up all important paperwork, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, and prescriptions. Similarly, making digital, password-protected copies of everything is a good idea, too.

As a matter of fact, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand. Your debit or credit cards could be rendered useless due to major power outages.

After the fact

Just because the storm has passed, it doesn’t mean an immediate all clear. Stay informed of any information or special instructions from city authorities.

  • Make sure to keep a head’s up during clean up! Wear protective clothing and always have the buddy system in place.
  • Do not touch any electrical equipment that is wet, has the possibility of being wet, or if you are standing in water. Electrocution doesn’t fool around.
  • Don’t wade through flood water. It’s full of debris and sewage. Also, the water could be electrically charged if there are any underground or downed power lines.
  • Use text messaging or social media to contact friends and family. Major storms often adversely affect phone service.

Check, mate

Planning ahead allows you the satisfaction of knowing you and your family are prepared come what may this hurricane season.

Above all, don’t get caught off guard.

Share the fact that you’ve refreshed on the hurricane checklist. Then, ask whomever your sharing with if they have done the same.

It may well be the catalyst that spurs them to take steps of preparation.

Along with you, we always hope that the hurricane season will blow by without event, but sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t let a dark cloud of worry niggle at the back of your mind. Moreover, a hurricane checklist isn’t just for residents of Tampa Bay. If you live in an area prone to them, you need to heed one, too.

Knowing you have a plan in place to provide for your family’s safety if a hurricane strikes will allow you to ease on down the road of summer.

It will seem like a day at the beach!

No matter where you’re headed.


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