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Hurricane Safety

Hurricane Tips Graphic

Last-Minute Hurricane Tips

  • Text FLPREPARES to 888777 & text your zip code to 888777 (in two separate texts). You will receive urgent notifications and storm updates from Florida SERT (FL Department of Emergency Management).
  • Physically write down important phone numbers.
  • Charge spare laptops; you may be able to use them to charge your cell phones if/when the electricity goes out.
  • Remember that you can charge phones/devices in vehicles with the ability to charge when the vehicle is OFF.
  • Secure important documents in ziploc bags/watertight containers and place in a safe spot.
  • Take photos of your home; this may help if you need to file insurance claims after the storm.

  • Hurricane Watch vs Hurricane Warning

    Hurricane Watch

    Hurricane Watch means Conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.

    Steps to take:

    Hurricane Warning

    Hurricane Warning means conditions are expected within 36 hrs.

    Steps to take:

    • Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.

    • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

    • Follow the hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.


  • Hurricane Timeline: What to Do & When

    36 Hours Out

    • Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

    • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

    • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

    • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.

    • Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

    18-36 Hours Out

    • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.

    • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.

    • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

    6-18 Hours Out

    • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

    • Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

    6 Hours Out

    • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.

    • Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.

    • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.

    • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.



  • Generator Safety

    Download Polk County Emergency Management's Generator Safety Guide (PDF)

    • Generators should be used in well ventilated locations outside away from all doors, windows and vent openings. 
    • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
    • Place generators so that exhaust fumes can't enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building. 
    • Make sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer's instructions for correct placement and mounting height. 
    • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.  
    • Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas. 

    Reminder About Generators

    When plugging in appliances, make sure they are plugged directly into the generator or a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord. The cords should be checked for cuts, tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin. If you must connect the generator to the house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install a properly rated transfer switch in accordance with the National Electrical Code® (NEC) and all applicable state and local electrical codes.

  • Helpful Apps

    Red Cross

    Download FREE Red Cross Mobile Apps today, in the Apple App Store or Google Play. These tools and preparedness information will be helpful throughout the storm and every day.


  • Basic Preparedness Tips
    • Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
    • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
    • If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
    • Make a family emergency communication plan.
    • Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”


  • Preparing Your Home

    General Home Preparation

    • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
    • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
    • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
    • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
    • Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.  

    Window Preparation

    Learn how to prep your windows and doors here.


  • After a Hurricane
    • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
    • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
    • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
    • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
    • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
    • Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
    • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
    • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

    Source: Polk County Emergency Management

Tips on Preparing for a Hurricane from City of Lakeland on Vimeo.