Breaking News
More () »

How to prepare for a hurricane

This guide will help you navigate through evacuation zones, know what supplies you should pack in case of emergencies and financial tips you need to consider.

Before a tropical storm or hurricane makes landfall, you'll want to review your supplies and other factors to make sure you're prepared.

We are breaking down evacuation zones, what you need in your emergency supply kits and any insurance topics you should know about.

What is my evacuation zone?

The Florida Division of Emergency Management's Disaster Preparedness Maps is a great site to bookmark. It breaks down evacuation zones, evacuation routes, as well as provide storm surge maps.

Click here to view your evacuation zone. You can find out what zone you are in by entering your address/zip code in the top left side of the screen.

Evacuation zones are broken down into zones A to E. Zone A is likely to be evacuated first whereas Zone E is likely to be evacuated last. 

Be sure to keep up-to-date with any news conferences that the mayor or governor will have as a hurricane approaches. During these updates, the mayor or governor will tell which zone should evacuate.

You should also know where shelters are in case you need to leave your home. These won't be announced until areas will have to evacuate, so be sure to keep checking firstcoastnews.com and the First Coast News app for updates.

Visit this link to see information for other states. 

If you have to evacuate, don't forget about your pets:

  • Don't leave your furry friends behind
  • If you need to leave your home, transport your pet in a secure crate and pack plenty of food and water for them
  • Make sure their identification tags are up-to-date in case your pet gets lost
  • Make sure the shelter you are going to allows pets

Why you should 'strengthen' your home:

If you decide not to evacuate and you want to ride out a hurricane at your own risk, make sure you strengthen your home to prevent as much damage as possible. This also means not waiting until the last minute when a hurricane could be days away.

You can strengthen your home by:

  • Trimming trees
  • Purchasing window coverings
  • Securing your doors
  • Find safe spots for vehicles in case there is flooding or strong winds
  • Bring-in anything that can be picked up by the wind like lawn furniture, BBQ grills and bicycles

You should also know how to turn off your home's gas and water, as well as know where the shut-off valves are located. Also be sure to equip yourself with the appropriate tools needed to do so.

What should my emergency hurricane supply kit include?

To best prepare you for the worst case scenario, it is important to make sure you have an emergency hurricane supply kit readily available. 

Your kit should include enough non-perishable food, medicines and water to last each person within your family for at least one week. Don't forget to also take out cash at the ATM just in case the power goes out and make sure you have enough batteries, battery packs and other charges for cell phones, radios and other devices.

Here are several items you’ll need:

  • Water - at least one gallon daily per person for three-to-seven days; also fill the bathtub and other containers; sports drinks are good to fend off dehydration
  • Food - at least enough for three-to-seven 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.
  • Clothing
  • 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
  • Important documents: Place in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag: Should include insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, prescriptions, etc.
  • 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
  • Keys
  • Toys, books and games for children
  • Duct tape
  • Cell phone charging stations -- locations where you can charge mobile devices

The American Red Cross also has a printable hurricane safety checklist to help prepare your family from danger. 

What about insurance? Will my stuff be protected?

Most people don't think about their finances when it comes to hurricane preparedness. Are you insured? Are your important documents protected? Below is a checklist of several financial tips to help you get prepared:

  • Flood-proof important papers: Place photocopies of important documents in a plastic bag and double wrap them to protect against water damage. You could also upload digital copies of important documents to the cloud
  • Get your benefits electronically: A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. If you depend on Social Security or other regular benefits, switching to electronic payments is a simple, significant way to protect yourself financially before disaster strikes
  • Check your insurance coverage: Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, contact your agent to ensure you’re adequately covered and understand exclusions. Don’t forget coverage for your car and remember that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood insurance which requires 30 days to take effect
  • Consider the costs associated with disasters - Plan for insurance deductibles and evacuation costs; anticipate initial out-of-pocket disaster expenses for lodging, food, gas and more
  • Download FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit at this link: The kit is a flexible tool designed to help you collect and secure the documentation you would need to get on the road to recovery without unnecessary delays
  • Keep some cash handy: Banks and ATMs may be inaccessible if there are power outages or curfews
  • Set aside money in an emergency fund: This can be difficult to do on a tight budget, but can be well worth the effort. Start by saving a few extra dollars each week and spread out your 10-days worth of supplies shopping to avoid a one-time large expense. Keep your emergency funds in a safe, easily accessible account
  • Set aside an emergency-only credit card: If possible, designate one credit card for emergency use only. It should have enough available credit to accommodate purchases of food and supplies for a week or more. Making purchases on a credit card will help you document disaster-related expenses

Don't forget to download our First Coast News app!

Before You Leave, Check This Out