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Hurricane Preparation: Bracing for the storm

Now more than ever, hurricane preparation should be on your June to-do list. The 2024 hurricane season is forecast to be one of the most active on record.

Here are three simple chores you should tackle today:

  1. Pull out your generator and start it up.
  2. Schedule a maintenance appointment for your air-conditioning.
  3. Locate and dust off your hurricane checklist. If you don’t have one, use ours (below).

Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues until November 30 with peak season from mid-August until October. Florida Sales Tax Holidays for hurricane supplies: June 1-14 and Aug. 24-Sept. 6 

The National Weather Service has predicted an 85 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season with 17-25 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher.

Of those, 8-13 storms are forecast to become hurricanes with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher, up to 7 major hurricanes with winds 111 mph or higher.

“The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have above-normal activity due to a confluence of factors, including near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, development of La Niña conditions in the Pacific, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, all of which tend to favor tropical storm formation,” NWS forecasters noted in their press release.

The probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including Florida, is 34%, according to meteorologists at Colorado State University. The probability of landfall on the Gulf Coast from Cedar Key west to Brownsville is 42%.

Related Story: Sanibel Island now: After Hurricane Ian, should you go back this summer

Current Outlook

hurricane preparation two atl 7d0 Hurricane Preparation: Bracing for the storm

National Hurricane Center Update

2024 Hurricane Names

hurricane preparation
Damage in Matlacha after 2022’s Hurricane Ian. The 2024 hurricane season is expected to be far more active. (Photo by Kevin Dooley, Some rights reserved)
  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Chris
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Francine
  • Gordon
  • Helene
  • Isaac
  • Joyce
  • Leslie
  • Milton
  • Nadine
  • Oscar
  • Patty
  • Rafael
  • Sara
  • Tony Valerie
  • William

Hurricane season preparation

About your generator

Our checklist begins with the generator that is sitting in your garage.

While you should have been starting your backup generator once a month since last season, the reality is that few of us actually do test it until a hurricane is in the wind.

But there is a very compelling reason to start it and test it now:

If your generator doesn’t start or runs rough, you have time now to get it to your small-engine shop for maintenance. If you wait until a storm approaches, your local small-engine repair shop will be swamped, and you’ll be out of luck.

A few generator tips:

  • Dump the old gas, if you haven’t done so already. Best practice is to empty the tank at the end of hurricane season.
  • Replace fuel with fresh ethanol-free gasoline. Gasoline in your car contains ethanol, but ethanol is not good for your generator. Buy a couple of gas cans now, then fill them up at the first sign of a storm.
  • Check the oil, drain and replace. There should be a little dip stick.
  • Run the generator 5 minutes once a month during hurricane season. (Ideally, you should be running it once a month all year, but few do. I’m guilty, too.)

Caution: Roll the generator outdoors for testing and use after a storm. Carbon dioxide emissions can kill you if you run the generator in the garage.

Our recommendation: The Honda EU2200i

I bought an earlier model of this Honda generator after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The 2200i is lightweight, quiet, economical with enough juice to get you through a power outage. After 20 years, it still runs great. A little pricey but worth it. I also use it to power my travel trailer. It’s not going to power your whole house; it can only power a handful of appliances and lights, but that should be enough for most people.

Honda 664240 EU2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator with Co-Minder
  • This popular model can operate a wide variety of appliances, making it perfect for portable use at home, camping, on the job site, or much…
  • So quiet, your neighbors will thank you. The EU2200i operates at 48 to 57 dBA, which is less noise than a normal conversation. This makes it…
  • Add a second EU2200i for additional power. Two identical models can be paralleled with an optional cable or cord for up to 4400 watts of…

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The Hurricane Shelf Checklist

Every Florida resident should have a hurricane shelf in a closet or garage for recurring storm needs:

  • Flashlights and battery-powered lanterns
  • Fresh batteries of all sizes (Replace at least every two years)
  • Weather radio with AM/FM, battery-operated or hand crank. (See recommendations below)
  • 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, restock.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • If you still have a landline, add a corded phone to your kit.

Pre-Season Hurricane Supplies Checklist

Food and water should be replaced annually. Use it all up after hurricane season and replace over the winter. Gasoline should be used immediately after hurricane season is over and gas containers refilled with the first threat of a tropical storm this summer.

hurricane season preparation florida
Don’t wait until last minute or you’ll experience long lines. Start preparations early. Use last year’s supplies if you haven’t already done so over the winter, and replace with fresh goods.
  • Water: Bottled drinking water stays fresh for a year, so refresh your supply at the beginning of each season and use it up in the off-season. Don’t wait until lines form to buy it.
  • Water containers: For storing tap water to bathe and flush toilets. These can be filled at the last minute, but you should already have the containers in-house.
  • Gasoline: Keep your car’s tank near full all season. Buy gas containers now and, at the first hint of a hurricane, fill them up. Gas station lines are formidable the closer you get to a storm’s arrival and afterwards. After the storm threat passes, pour stored gas into your car’s gas tank.
  • Food: A pantry full of non-perishable foods, canned and packaged, is standard procedure in Florida. Stock up.
  • Paper goods: Stock up on TP, paper towels, paper plates this month. There won’t be any left if you wait for the threat of a storm.
  • Plastic goods: Plastic garbage bags and plastic eating utensils, plastic storage bags and heavy-duty trash bags for yard debris.
  • Prescription drugs: Stay a month or two ahead on your prescriptions.
  • Disinfectant: You may still have COVID supplies of disinfectants and hand sanitizers on hand. Replenish your supply for 2024.

Florida Department of Emergency Management Checklist


Hurricane Evacuation Checklist

Everybody has a different tolerance level and different needs. But whatever your threshold, you should have an evacuation plan before you need it.

  • 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

You may not think you’ll need to go to a shelter, but if you suddenly find “the big one” heading your way, have a go-bag ready for each person in your household.

Shelters don’t have much to offer, and most won’t allow pets, so identify shelters in your area that accept pets.

Every county will release a shelter plan on June 1 each year.

Your go-bag should contain:

  • 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 to avoid opening and closing the fridge.

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

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

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 historically have opened 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 an approaching storm.

If you have an RV in storage…

If you are storing your RV, you should ask 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. Most 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.

A few picks from my hurricane shelf

These are my suggestions for stocking your hurricane shelf based on personal experience. Florida Rambler may receive a modest commission if a purchase is made through these links. The income supports the cost of publishing this free web site.

This box features affiliate links from which Florida Rambler may earn a small commission if a purchase is made. This revenue supports our mission to produce quality journalism. Your support is appreciated.

Current Tropical Weather

Storm Updates for state and national parks in Florida

Closures for Water Management District Recreation Areas

Social Media worth following

National Hurricane Center on Facebook | Twitter

Bryan Norcross’ Tropics Updates on Facebook | Twitter

In-depth updates from the National Hurricane Center

Storm-related Forecasts for Offshore Waters

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