Current predictions have Tampa Bay dodging Tropical Storm Erika, but as we all know, it's always good to be prepared.
Below are some tips, courtesy of the City of Tampa. Be sure to check the links at the end to help you stay updated and for information on where you can get sand bags, if needed. And check the attached evacuation maps for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Stay safe, everyone!
BEFORE A STORM
- Have a family emergency and communications plan.
- Build an emergency kit. Consider some of the following in your kit.
- 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
- 3-day supply of non-perishable food
- first-aid kit
- battery-powered radio
- extra batteries
- credit card and cash
- special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
- prescription and non-prescription medication
- Prepare to secure your home. Purchase materials to protect your home (i.e. plywood, sandbags, etc.)
- Determine your evacuation route.
- Trim trees and shrubs to prevent them from causing damage to your home.
- Don't forget about your pets. Consider locating pet-friendly lodging should you need to evacuate.
DURING A STORM
- Stay informed. Frequently listen to radio or TV for official announcements of the storm's progress.
- Follow all instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if you are ordered to do so.
- Plan to evacuate if you live in a mobile home, along the coastline or near a river or other potential flood zone, or in a high rise building as hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations. Notify friends or family members outside the affected area of your evacuation plans.
- If staying home, unplug small appliances, turn the refrigerator to maximum cold and keep it closed, and fill the bathtub and large containers with water in case clean tap water is unavailable.
- Stay indoors during the storm and stay away from windows and glass doors. Stay in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level floor.
- Be alert for tornadoes as they are often spawned by severe storms.
- The calm "eye" of the storm - don't be fooled. It may seem that the storm is over, but once the eye passes, winds will pick up again.
AFTER A STORM
- Keep listening for the latest updates.
- If you evacuated, do not return home until officials say it is safe.
- Do not drive unless necessary. Avoid blocked or flooded roadways.
- Inspect your home for damage only using a flashlight. Do not use a candle or open flame.
- Wear proper shoes to prevent cutting your feet on debris.
- Avoid walking in areas with downed power lines to avoid electrocution.
- Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until officials say it is safe for consumption.
- Never use generators indoors.
FREE SAND BAGS
Municipalities throughout Tampa Bay are offering free sandbags. Most require proof of residency (driver's license preferred) and there is a 10-bag limit per resident.
St. Petersburg: Sandbags are available 7 am to 7 om Sunday at three locations: Northeast Park, 875 62nd Avenue NE, at the Cardinal Drive entrance to Mangrove Bay Golf Course; Bartlett Park, 22nd Avenue S, between Sixth and Seventh Streets; and Northwest Pool Parking Lot, 2331 60th Street N.
Tampa: Sandbags are available 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Bobby Hicks Pool, 4201 W Mango Ave.; Jackson Heights Playground, 3310 E Lake Ave.; and City of Tampa Solid Waste, 4010 W Spruce St.
Gulfport: Sandbags available from 7 am to 7 pm Saturday and Sunday at Gulfport City Hall, 2401 53rd Street S.
Unincorporated Pinellas County: Sandbags are available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at John Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor, Taylor Park in Largo and Lealman Park in Lealman.
Hillsborough County: Sandbags are available 8 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday, at all three County Public Works Service Units:
West Service Unit at 9805 Sheldon Road in Tampa; South Service Unit at 8718 Old Big Bend Road in Gibsonton; and East Service Unit at 4702 Sydney Road in Plant City.
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