What You NEED to Know to Stay Safe This Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season is underway. Mayor Kriseman in a recent SunBlast email provided links that will help citizens and small businesses prepare for the worst. We read through the links and thought it would be helpful to summarize some of the major points and precautionary measures detailed. Make sure to bookmark/favorite/save this article for reference if the weather does turn sour. 

Prep Your Home

*Graphic via City of St. Pete

The official Pinellas Guide for Hurricane Preparedness strongly encourages three measures in keeping your home protected. Brace your garage doors, most hardware/home goods stores will have a retrofit kits available. Shutter your window with any commercial available product or with a minimum of 7/16” exterior plywood. If you have a Gable End roof, one that has two slopes that form a peak at the top, brace it. Techniques and ideas for bracing can be found here

Equip Your Car
Throughout the season you should do your best to keep your gas tank at least half-full. If a warning is put out by the Weather Center be sure to immediately fill up your tank. It's wise to keep a first aid kit along with non-perishable food items, a supply of bottled water, jumper cables, flashlights/batteries, a map outlining shelter locations, a basic tool kit and a tire inflator.

Know Your Evacuation Zone
If a serious storm hits and no amount of at-home preventative measures would suffice in securing your home you're going to want to know where exactly your shelter is. The City of St. Pete has provided a comprehensive map that searches Evacuation Zones via address. You can learn yours now by visiting their page.

Prep your Pet
When a storm hits we often discover the precious cargo we carry with us. If you have a pet and a Hurricane Evacuation is put into effect be aware that the pet friendly shelter is located at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, 3901 22nd Ave. S. The city advises that you have proper ID collar and rabies tag/license, carrier/cage, leash, ample food supply, non electric can opener, specific care instructions, water/food bowls and any necessary medications are packed and ready. For more information visit Pinellas County's Pet Preparedness Page.

Pre-Register for Assistance If You Have Special Needs
If you or someone you know requires assistance in an evacuation you may pre-register with the Fire and Rescue Department. Through the evacuation assistance program citizens who cannot assist themselves to a shelter will be taken to a general evac. shelter, a special needs shelter or the appropriate facility. The special needs shelter is located at John Hopkins Middle School, 701 16th St. S. It is important to know that you should not hesitate or be afraid to ask for help. Make plans to have a friend, neighbor or relative to pick you up if you live in an evacuation zone. For more information on Evacuation Assistance and Registration Forms visit EAP's official page.

Sand Bags
In the past the city has issued sand bags to residents to put in their cars, up to 20, and other pieces of machinery and furiniture that might prove fatal to neighbors and neighborhoods if they were to go airborn. If you have bags from previous storms you are encouraged to bring them to the city to get refilled. 

Are you in a flood zone? Check out the city's flood zone map. To be totally prepared start by creating an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property.Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Have extra batteries, a portable radio, flashlights and emergency cooking equipment available. Keep materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.

Make sure you monitor local television/radio stations for up to date information regarding possible flooding and storm patterns. Bring all outside furniture inside and secure it. Prepare to shut off water, gas or electrical services if advised to do so. After the storms make sure to wait until an area is declared safe before returning home.  

Post-Storm Debris
If after the storm brush, debris and other such items are littered across your yard fit whatever you can in your garbage bin and top off the bin with any brush you can fit. For whatever cannot fit in the bin there are 5 Brush sites in the city open Mon-Fri from 9am-5pm. As a last resort you can pile up excess debris on the curb and request a special pick-up. Brush should be cut into lengths of 4 feet or less.

Numbers to Know
The city has provided a comprehensive list of all the phone numbers of organizations whose assitance will prove vital pre and post storm. 

*Video via WMNF News

Complete List of Links:

Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is in his third year as Writer/Editor of iLovetheBurg.com. New York Times bestselling author Andre Dubus III has said of him, “Andrew Harlan has a sharp and discerning eye for detail that deftly captures character and landscape." He has published fiction and poetry in Sabal and Prime Number Literary Magazine. He graduated with honors from Eckerd College in 2013 with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a minor in Literature. He can be reached by phone: (727) 896-3435 or email: andrew@rkc.me