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Hurricane 2022: Know what to do before a storm hits Tampa Bay | Column

Preparing now is a decision that could save your life, says Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s executive director.
Sean Sullivan is executive director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
Sean Sullivan is executive director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. [ Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council ]
Published May 27

If you aren’t taking the 2022 hurricane season seriously, consider a few facts:

The 2021 hurricane season was the third-busiest on record, with 21 named storms. In fact, the World Meteorological Association went beyond its planned list of names for the year.

Related: Hurricane 2022: Tampa Bay will flood. Here’s how to get ready.

That year also marked the highest number of hurricane landfalls ever in the U.S., with seven moving inland off the water. Florida was impacted three times.

As weather gets more extreme as a result of climate change, this could mean more frequent and higher-intensity storms.

For residents of the west coast of Florida, where major hurricanes have missed us for the most part, hurricane season can become routine. But please don’t get complacent — getting ready now is a decision that could save your life.

Related: Hurricane 2022: Protect your mental health during the storm

Work with your family to develop a solid hurricane plan now. What are you going to do if a major storm is approaching? Knowing exactly what to do can save valuable time.

With this goal in mind, here are some tips that can be included in your preparation planning.

  • Stock up on food that will last a while in case your power goes out and your refrigerator stops working. This could be anything from peanut butter to dried fruit to canned goods.
  • Buy bottled water now. It’s often the first item that runs out at stores when a storm is approaching.
  • Sign up for your county’s emergency alert system. If your county doesn’t offer such a service, go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website at noaa.gov and sign up for alerts there.
  • If you decide to leave town, make the decision early. We’ve all seen photos of miles of cars in traffic trying to get away from a storm — don’t get stuck in that situation.
  • Knowing that COVID-19 is still of concern, pack masks, hand sanitizer and disposable gloves, and know that using a municipal shelter should be a last resort.
  • Bring batteries for your flashlight and have chargers on hand for your cellphone.
  • Consider buying a NOAA radio, which can provide storm updates even if cell service is down in your area.
  • Take photos of personal insurance documents and store them on your phone. Keep paper copies of those documents in your vehicle.
  • Keep paper maps in your vehicle in case cell service is out and you can’t use the GPS on your phone.
  • Be sure that your vehicle is ready with a full tank of gas and a hurricane kit that should include such items as flares, medications, food, a flashlight and ponchos.
  • If a major storm is approaching, take warnings seriously and evacuate if you’re told to do so. Staying in a dangerous area is a bad idea — help may not get to you for days.

For more tips, go to TampaBayPrepares.org for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s All-Hazards Disaster Planning Guide and Evacuation Map. Now is the time to get ready, in plenty of time to make plans before storms draw near.

Sean Sullivan is executive director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

IT’S HURRICANE SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here’s how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

Part 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

Part 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don’t understand the risk.

Part 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk

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