The hurricane season is upon us. The season peaks on September 10 as Florida transitions from late summer to early fall. The waterways of Tampa Bay have become more hospitable to tropical systems at this time and everyone needs to be prepared through the end of the season on November 30. We want to share some tips with you to stay safe as the tropics heat up.
Research Your Evacuation Zone and Develop a Plan
Based on your home address, you can view the evacuation map, your zone, shelter info, and other essential tips to be proactively prepared with resources from the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management. THEA’s Selmon Expressway is a vital evacuation route for many, and in the event of a major hurricane, the reversible express lanes (REL) can be modified to let critical traffic flow to safer places to shelter more securely. THEA and all levels of government coordinate during hurricanes and want to help residents and visitors to prepare, access hurricane supplies, and safely and quickly evacuate when necessary. Communicate with your family about what to do, and let your family and friends know your designated modes of communication and safety spots should you have to evacuate quickly.
Connect with Road Assistance
THEA’s Road Ranger Service Patrol is available Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. by calling *347 to help motorists and reduce accident rates. They also assist with traffic flow after accidents and remove road debris to ensure drivers are safe on the Selmon Expressway. The Road Ranger Service Patrol carries first aid kits, auto jacks, gasoline, booster cables, radiator water, air compressors, fire extinguishers, reflective cones, flares, sand, and emergency blankets. You can also download the Florida 511 app to stay in the know from the Florida Department of Transportation for real-time traffic and travel information.
Create an Emergency and Supply Kit
Seven days of supplies are recommended to have enough water, non-perishable food, baby supplies, batteries, garbage bags, moist towelettes, and pandemic essentials on hand, along with a battery-powered radio, flashlight, and prescription medications that you need. Local maps, manual can openers, matches, an emergency kit for pets, cash on hand, and a full tank of gas are also essential. Having copies of your critical information stored in waterproof bags or areas also help to be prepared in case of stronger storms.
Use Precautions to Drive Safely
In the event of a major hurricane evacuation, it is important to slow down when conditions are less than ideal. Use your headlights when low visibility is a concern so other vehicles can see you easier. Be proactive and make sure your windshield wipers, tires, and brakes are working optimally. Stay alert and focused when driving, and don’t go too far into areas where water collects or when rainfall is heavy.
All of these tips will help you get prepared proactively. You can truly never be too prepared, and you can stock up on supplies each time you go to the grocery, automotive, or hardware store or order online. Having enough resources for 72 hours minimum is recommended, and pay attention to storm advisories so you can activate your hurricane plan promptly.