1. Study the evacuation routes, shelters, and potential storm surge areas for your vicinity. Information can be found on Florida's Storm Surge Zones, Evacuation Routes and Evacuation Zones Information. Knowing what areas are prone to surge in different category storms and the evacuation routes are vital to your safety. Tune-into your local news station to receive up-to-date information regarding evacuation notices, shelters, and more. Note: You should always heed evacuation warnings. Many times emergency services will not be readily available in evacuation zones during and soon after powerful hurricanes make landfall.
2. For any hurricane however distant or likely to strengthen, it may be advisable in some cases to simply leave the area days ahead of the storm. This is especially true for elderly, special needs individuals, or for the much overlooked psychological impact any storm may have on certain people like children. Children may be more susceptible to this kind of stress depending on the individual and their age. If psychological trauma is preventable by safely leaving the area then it's advisable to do so. Plan a vacation early or just take a long weekend. Your family will most likely appreciate it even if the storm never makes landfall!
3. Keep a hurricane tracking map and keep it updated. These can usually be found at your local supermarket. You can also download a hurricane tracking map from NOAA here. The act of tracking a hurricane on paper helps you plan ahead and stay alert to the possible threat.
4. Evaluate your home to ensure it's protected from hurricanes. Make sure all windows have proper storm shutters and that you designate a secure-room in your house. This should be an interior room that can fit everyone, and has a speedy exit in emergency situations. It should be a secure, without windows, and a well-ventilated room if you are in a particularly strong storm. Special needs accessibility concerns should be addressed as well. Remember that even basement structures are not always safe against some powerful category 5 hurricanes or tornados. Seeking a secure room or shelter constructed to withstand powerful hurricanes or tornados is advisable even if it means moving to another location days before the storm hits. If you live in a trailer or boat, it's recommended you make prior arrangements to stay somewhere else during a storm like a designated shelter.
5. For Your Home - Before hurricane season buy a battery operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries, bottled water, canned food to sustain you and your family for several weeks after a storm. Before a storm approaches fill your bathtub and sinks with water for bathing. You may also want to buy a power generator, gas grill, and other essential items if the power goes out. In some cases you may want to store blocks of ice or ice bags in a cooler. An emergency medical kit, pocket knife, fire extinguisher, and other emergency supplies are highly recommended.