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What to do if you are told to evacuate

To help weather a hurricane, you should start preparing long before you are told to evacuate. Here are some tips to guide your through an evacuation.

If you must evacuate. . .

You should start preparing before an evacuation order is issued.

If an evacuation order is issued for your area, make sure your home is secure and then leave immediately -- no matter how nice the weather is at the time. The seemingly long lead time is deceptive but is needed so that the large number of vulnerable West Central Florida residents can be evacuated before a hurricane strikes. If you live in a mobile home and an evacuation order is given, you must leave immediately.

Pack what you will need. Your destination -- friends, relatives, hotel, motel or evacuation shelter -- will certainly influence those needs.

Turn off electricity and water. If your appliances use natural gas from a transmission line, shut off valves at the appliances. If you use a storage tank, shut off gas at the main valve.

Take important papers with you, including insurance papers and identification with your local address. Proper identification will help you regain access to your neighborhood, home and possessions after the hurricane threat has passed.

Let friends and relatives know where you are going.

Be a good neighbor and lend a hand so that others are able to leave the area safely.

Friends or relatives

If you've made plans to stay with a relative or friend, make sure your destination is not within a zone that has been ordered to evacuate. Take enough supplies for your family.

Leaving coastal areas

If you're leaving the area, remember to take the supplies you will need. Follow the most direct route to safety. But remember, if the hurricane is coming from the east, some evacuation routes could take you directly into the storm. In that case, go to a Red Cross shelter

Red Cross shelters

Here is a list of Red Cross shelters in your area that you can use if you are asked to evacuate your home.

Citrus County (Inverness, Crystal River)
Hernando County (Brooksville, Weeki Wachee)
Hillsborough County (Tampa, Plant City, Ruskin)
Pasco County (Dade City, New Port Richey)
Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, Clearwater)

A shelter should be your last resort in case of evacuation, but if you must go, here's what to take

  • Medications
  • Lightweight cots or folding chairs
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Extra clothing for each family member
  • Special dietary foods if non-perishable
  • Infant formula, diapers, pins, baby food, if needed
  • Portable radio or weather radio
  • Books, a deck of cards or a small board game for adults or older children. A small toy or two for a younger child

Also see: Important paperwork to take

Do not take:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Extra food other than special dietary needs.
  • Valuables. There will be no place to store jewelry, valuable papers or large amounts of money. Make other arrangements to store them.

Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross

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