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Tropical storm updates and hurricane checklist

Hurricane season begins in June and continues through the end of November, although the peak season usually runs from late August through early October.

We try to answer your basic questions about tropical storms and hurricanes in this article with a focus on preparations and checklists to consider well in advance of approaching storms.

It’s never too early to get started.

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In-depth updates from the National Hurricane Center

Storm-related Forecasts for Offshore Waters

Hurricane Preparation

Most of us know what to do when a hurricane approaches, but it doesn’t hurt to have a hurricane checklist as a reminder of things to do in advance of a tropical storm or hurricane.

Many of us are campers, so we already have much of the gear, and a lot of things on this checklist are second nature.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30 with the peak season from mid-August through mid-October.

Disclaimer: These checklists are not comprehensive but should meet minimal needs. We include links to more comprehensive checklists and guides prepared by government agencies.

The Hurricane Shelf Checklist

Every Florida resident should have a hurricane shelf in a closet or garage where you keep these supplies:

  • Flashlights and battery-powered lanterns
  • Fresh batteries of all sizes (Replace every two years)
  • A hand-crank radio
  • First aid kit.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Tool kit includes a hatchet or axe, duct tape, hammer, nails, saw, can opener, pocket knife and a multi-tool.
  • Blue tarps! Cord, rope for tie downs.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Sterno kit, restocked.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • If you still have a landline, add a corded phone to your kit.

Pre-Season Hurricane Supplies Checklist

  • Water: Stock up on fresh bottled drinking water each season.
  • Water containers: For storing water to bathe and flush toilets.
  • Gasoline: Buy gas containers now and fill them at the first hint of a hurricane. If you don’t need it, you can always use the gas in your car later. Store safely!
  • Food: A pantry full of non-perishable foods, canned and packaged, is standard procedure in Florida.
  • Paper goods: Stock up now on TP, paper towels, paper plates. There won’t be any left if you wait.
  • Plastic goods: Plastic garbage bags and plastic eating utensils, plastic storage bags and trash bags for yard debris.
  • Prescription drugs: Stay a month ahead on your prescriptions.
  • Disinfectant: You should already have adequate post-pandemic supplies of disinfectants and hand sanitizers. If not, replenish your supply.

Florida Department of Emergency Management Checklist


Hurricane Evacuation Checklist

Everybody has a different tolerance level and different needs. But whatever your threshhold, you should think about it and have a plan.

  • Keep a list of local shelters. Communities often have shelters for people with special needs and shelters that allow pets. Go to the appropriate shelter.
  • Have a go-bag and sleeping bag ready for each person, just in case.
  • If you are leaving town, consider in advance where you will go, how to get there, and what you’ll need. If you have camping gear, have it ready to pack in your escape vehicle.
  • Fill vehicle gas tanks before you even need to evacuate, and keep in mind the main roads will be crowded and out-of-town hotels already booked by smart planners.
  • Wherever you are going, before you leave your house, unplug appliances and shut off electricity, shut off gas lines and your main water supply.
  • If you are worried about flooding and have time, place sandbags and towels around vulnerable doorways and raise furniture and valuables off the floor. Bags of topsoil make excellent sandbags and can be spread on your lawn or your garden later.
  • Don’t leave home without putting up your shutters.
  • Lock the house up when you leave.

Hurricane Shelter Checklist

Shelters don’t have much to offer so be prepared. Identify shelters in advance that accept pets. Each family member should have their own Go Bag:

  • Clothing for 2-3 days
  • Personal hygiene items, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Sleeping bag, air mattress, pillow
  • Books and games
  • Medications
  • Identification (driver’s license)
  • Cash
  • Snacks
  • Flashlight

If you decide to ride out the storm at home

  • Designate a “safe room” with strong walls and least exposed to outside elements (no windows, for example.)
  • Fill the bathtub(s) with water that can be used for flushing toilets.
  • Unplug appliances you don’t need but leave the circuit breaker on until the house loses power. Turn it back on after power is restored.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Have coolers on standby for items you use frequently.

Nobody likes being told “what not to do,” but…

  • Do not use candles or open flames. Fire-rescue is way too busy to respond to your fire.
  • Do not use generators indoors. Fumes and carbon dioxide exhaust can kill you and your family.

Do you have a generator?

  • Start your generator once a month, and let it run for 5 minutes, to make sure it’s ready to go when you need it. If it doesn’t run, get it repaired soon so it’s one less thing to worry about later.
  • If you forget or not diligent, at least test the generator at the start of hurricane season, keeping in mind your local small-engine shop will be overwhelmed when hurricane season heats up.
  • Ethanol is OK for your car, but not small engines. Know where to buy ethanol-free gasoline for your generator. Here’s a list at

If you are camping when a storm approaches…

  • Pack up and get ready to move on a moment’s notice.
  • Florida State Parks and other campgrounds within the forecast cone will close, and you will have to evacuate, even if it’s several days away.
  • Inland states such as Georgia and Alabama will likely open makeshift campgrounds at fairgrounds and race tracks for evacuees to camp.
  • Make sure you have enough gas to get to a place of refuge, even if you don’t expect the storm to come your way. Hurricanes can turn on a dime.
  • Don’t panic, but get an early start so you’re not stuck in traffic fleeing the approaching storm.

What if your RV is in storage?

If you are storing your RV, you should ask now about their policy in a storm. Some RV storage facilities will require you to remove it, but if you wait until the last minute, you will never get through on the phone. I know this from experience.

One year, I had to remove my travel trailer from storage, so I brought it home and sheltered it by wedging it between my house and my neighbor’s house. The storm missed us.

Another year, I left it in storage. A Cat 2 storm hit my house squarely, knocking out power for two weeks. The travel trailer, 25 miles away, was untouched. I brought it home after the storm passed and lived in it. I was the only one in the neighborhood with hot showers and a working stove (propane).

If you have a boat in storage

  • Ask about your storage lots policies with an approaching storm.
  • If allowed, have ground anchors on hand so you can tie it down.
  • If your boat damages other boats, you will likely be held responsible. Check your insurance policy for coverage.
  • Some storage lots will require you to remove the boat.

If you have a boat in the water

  • If you are in a marina, ask about the marina’s policies in the event of an approaching storm. Many marinas will require you to remove your vessel.
  • If you are at your own dock, tie your boat securely.
  • If your boat can be removed from the water, decide how and where you can store it in a storm. Sometimes that means moving the boat inland. Sometimes it means putting it in your garage or sheltering it between houses and tying it down to ground anchors.

Notes from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning visits.

This page may include affiliate links from which we earn modest commissions if a purchase is made. 

This article is property of, protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.

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Onisha Ellis

Friday 5th of August 2022

I remember a camping trip one summer when a hurricane had gone up the coast and headed north. Since it was moving north my parents decided it was OK to go camping at Sebastian inlet. Back then there was no campground you just pitched a tent. I’m not sure how long we had been there if it was a day or not but we noticed that the wind was starting to pick up so my parents turned on the car and found a radio station and surprise the storm had actually turned around and was headed our way. We quickly broke down the tent packed up the car and headed back to Orlando where we lived. Growing up in Florida I experienced many storms. They’re a fact of life in Florida. Thankfully though beyond some broken limbs from trees we never had any damage. The power outages weren’t a lot of fun. It gets really hot after hurricane moves through.The 2004 hurricane season probably would’ve caused roof damage but we had replaced ours earlier in the year and it held tight and to my knowledge even though we no longer live there it’s still doing fine. Florida has a lot of new residence over the past couple of years and it’s good that you posted this . I hope they read it because you gave good information.

Bob Rountree

Saturday 6th of August 2022

Thank you, Onisha. Our primary mission is outdoor recreation, so we saw a need to keep readers up to date on tropical weather developments in Florida. When storms get close, though, we suggest readers rely on local news outlets -- radio, television and newspapers -- for more thorough reporting of local conditions.

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