For years Floridians were lucky enough not to experience a direct hit by a hurricane. That ended in 2016 when the state got a double dose with Hurricane Hermine hitting the west coast followed by the more powerful Hurricane Matthew hitting the east coast.

For 2017 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-average storm season, both in the number and the strength of those storms.

As a longtime resident of the Tampa Bay area Sandy Ernst has experienced tropical storms and hurricanes big and small. As a longtime Tampa Realtor Sandy Ernst extends her services to clients beyond buying and selling Tampa homes to offering help where she can to make their everyday lives better.

With the active storm prediction and hurricane season looming Sandy has compiled the following hurricane preparedness tips as a service for her clients and for all residents of the Tampa Bay area.

Prepare Your Disaster Kit - Now!

Even with Tampa Bay’s strong afternoon thunderstorms stores can get crowded fast and needed emergency items sold out. This is why it is crucial to plan and shop now and to check and replace any kit items you may have from earlier years as needed.

Some essential disaster kit items include:

  • Drinking water/containers – 1 gal/per person/per day (minimum 7 days)
  • Flashlights and batteries for each family member
  • Cellphone with pictures of your home inside and out for insurance purposes
  • Portable radio and batteries
  • Seven-day supply of non-perishable/special dietary foods
  • Two week supply of prescription medicines
  • First aid kit
  • Have a list of important phone numbers
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Extra batteries
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Toilet paper, paper towels
  • A full tank of gas in your car

Also prepare a disaster kit for any pets including a proper ID collar and rabies tag/license, a leash, carrier and enough food and water for your pets for seven days.

Prepare Your Tampa Bay Home

Here are some ways to help you keep your family, home and yard safer in the event of a hurricane.

  • Pick up and store any and all loose items from your yard, patio, etc. These can become projectiles thrown by 100 mph-plus winds and can cause considerable damage.
  • If boarding windows use screws or nails to the concrete or wood outside of the window frame. Drilling into the frame itself can cause leaking.
  • Reinforce all French and double doors.
  • Tape windows if there is time – although experts are split on if this actually keeps windows from shattering.

If You Have to Evacuate

The Tampa Bay area is surrounded by water and has many costal and low-lying areas. Listen to the news for Tampa area evacuation zone alerts and link to the following map outlining zones and shelters throughout Hillsborough County.

Know evacuation routes before you need them because Tampa Bay area roads and bridges can get very crowded very quickly. Experienced Floridians know that I-4, I-275 and I-75 highways can become parking lots during evacuations so plan accordingly.

If going to a shelter and you have pets be sure to check ahead to see which facilities accept pets.

After the Storm Passes

Remain patient while you assess any damage to your home and remember that everyone on your block is also calling their insurance company for assistance. Secure your home the best you can but if it is structurally unsound do not stay inside. Your insurance company or emergency services can provide information on next steps.

Prepare Now – Additional Tampa Bay Hurricane Preparedness Resources

With these Tampa Bay hurricane preparedness tips courtesy of Tampa Realtor Sandy Ernst and by exploring the many resources available you can be best prepared to keep you, your family and home as safe as possible during the hurricane season.

Here are some additional resources on Hurricane preparedness for the Tampa Bay area.

National Hurricane Center -