ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ask yourself this, "If a hurricane were coming this week, would I be ready?" Thankfully, there's enough time right now to get to that "yes" answer.
Complicating matters, of course, is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Hurricane Preparedness Week 2020 starts Sunday, May 3, and runs through Saturday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service hope people can do these three key things to be ready for the official start of hurricane season.
Because of coronavirus and scientists' predictions that the 2020 season might be quite active, it's now more important than ever to plan ahead.
Here they are:
Make a list of supplies for your hurricane kit
Go ahead and pull out that hurricane kit from last year. Does everything seem OK? Can the food last for several more months? You might be in the clear!
Otherwise, now's the time to get a large storage bin and fill it up with several recommended items.
- Water: At least 1 gallon daily per person for 3-7 days; when a storm nears, fill the bathtub and other containers; sports drinks are good to fend off dehydration
- Food: At least enough for 3-7 days; non-perishable packaged or canned food; juices; foods for infants or elderly family members; snack foods; food for special diets
- Non-electric can opener
- Cooking tools, fuel
- Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils
- Bedding: blankets, pillows, etc.
- Rain gear
- Sturdy shoes
- First aid kit, medicines, prescription drugs
- Toiletries, hygiene items, moisture wipes, dry shampoo
- Flashlight, batteries, lanterns
- Radio: Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
- Telephones: Fully charged cell phone with extra battery; chargers; traditional (not cordless) telephone set
- Cash (with some small bills) and credit cards: Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
- Tools: Keep a set with you during the storm
- Gas: Fill up your vehicles several days before landfall is expected; gas stations could lose power during a storm and supply trucks may not be able to reach the area
- Pet care items: Proper identification, immunization records, medications, ample supply of food and water; a carrier or cage; muzzle and/or leash
- Bleach without lemon or any other additives
- Fire extinguisher
- Mosquito repellent
- Toys, books and games for children
- Duct tape
- Cell phone charging stations -- locations where you can charge mobile devices
Organize important documents
Place these in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag ahead of time. It should include insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security cards, prescriptions, etc.
If you have flood insurance, make sure you have this supporting documentation, too. Consider checking with your insurance agent or company if you do not have flood insurance -- it might be a good idea to have considering where you live.
Figure out if you live in an evacuation zone
If you're anywhere along Florida's coastline, it's safe to assume you're in some sort of evacuation zone. But if a storm threatens and the call comes to leave, is your zone being called over someone else's?
Visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management to see what zone you live in. That way, when you hear evacuations ordered for zones A through E, you'll know whether it's time to go.
Visit this link to see information for other states.
Several outlets so far this year predict this upcoming hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, will be an active one for several reasons.
Scientists at Penn State University's Earth System Science Center say a combination of warm sea surface temperatures and other factors could result in the development of more named tropical cyclones than usual.
A tropical cyclone gets a name when it reaches tropical storm strength, with winds in excess of 39 mph.
What other people are reading right now:
- Gov. DeSantis says reopening can begin May 4, restaurants can open with restrictions
- Polk County nursing home among hardest-hit by coronavirus with 12 deaths
- Tampa-area malls reopening: International Plaza, Westfield centers
- Florida Health quietly releases more specific data on nursing home deaths
- ‘We need it most’: Social Security recipients still waiting for stimulus checks
- Baby killed, 3 kids without seat belts thrown from SUV in South Florida crash
- Hotlines, websites offer the latest on COVID-19
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