Hurricane Preparedness: Tampa Bay’s Guide To Staying Safe And Healthy During A Hurricane

Living in Tampa Bay comes with some amazing perks, like fun tourist attractions and a warm climate, but it also means Tampa Bay residents must prepare for the yearly hurricane season. Hurricanes are known to be devastating weather patterns, bringing flooding, strong winds, heavy rains, and extensive damage to the Florida area. Knowing how to prepare for hurricanes effectively is essential, especially for anyone suffering from health and medical conditions who may need special accommodations. As Tampa Bay’s local urgent care provider, TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track is committed to helping our community adequately prepare for the hurricane season with hurricane preparedness tips that will help to prevent emergencies for you and your loved ones during our inevitable next storm.

The Importance of Hurricane Preparedness in Tampa Bay

Did you know that Florida experiences the most hurricanes than any other state in the United States? With our hurricane season running from June to November, Floridians must remain vigilant and prepared for strong storms, heavy rains, and dangerous flooding for six months out of the year. For individuals with health conditions, the impacts of hurricanes can be even more severe; during Hurricane Ian alone, there were 148 deaths  that included 19 from delayed medical care, 9 from falls, and 8 from oxygen machine failure along with multiple deaths caused by infections, drowning, accidents, and car crashes. These tragic deaths demonstrate the need for safe and proactive hurricane preparedness for you and your loved ones.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

  1. Prevent Medical Emergencies: If you have a chronic health condition, consider scheduling a pre-hurricane health check-up with TGH Urgent Care Powered by Fast Track or your specialist to ensure you remain healthy and have enough medication to sustain you or your loved ones through an upcoming storm.
  2. Secure Your Home: Assess your home to see whether your home is prepared to withstand strong winds and heavy rains. Consider installing storm shutters, boarding up windows with plywood, and fixing any cracks in the ceilings and foundation. It is also essential to secure or bring inside any loose outdoor items, clean gutters of any debris, and cut back trees and shrubs.
  3. Purchase Back-up Power Sources: If you or anyone in the home requires medical equipment that relies on electricity such as oxygen machines, having a back-up power source is crucial for hurricane preparedness. Portable and back-up generators and power banks can provide temporary electricity during a power outage, protecting your vulnerable loved ones. However, this is not recommended for long-term outages, and an evacuation plan is recommended for those with serious medical conditions.
  4. Safeguarding Important Documents: Essential documents like medical documents, insurance cards, family records, and identification paperwork should be stored in a waterproof container. In case of extreme flooding and damaging winds, it’s advisable to create digital copies of these forms and store them on a secure cloud service and flash drive.

Hurricane Emergency Kit Essentials

Medical Supplies

  • A minimum two-week supply of any prescription medications (make sure to include any medications your pets are taking too!)
  • First aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptics, and personal medical items
  • Additional medication like antacids, pain relievers, and anti-diarrhea medications
  • Sunscreen, soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes

Food and Water

  • One gallon of water per person in the household per day for at least seven days
  • Non-perishable food items such as shelf-stable foods, canned goods, and protein bars that will sustain everyone in the household
  • Manual can opener, disposable utensils/plates/cups/napkins, and trash bags
  • Remember your pets: have enough water and dog food on hand to sustain them for at least seven days

Personal Hygiene Items

  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, and feminine products
  • Special needs items for infants and seniors, including diapers, wipes, cream…etc.

Tools and General Supplies

  • NOAA Weather Radio
  • Cellphone chargers and portable battery banks
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, change of clothes for each family member
  • Cash (Banks and ATMs may not be available after a storm)
  • Fill gas tanks in all available motor vehicles
  • Pet supplies, including beds, bowls, leashes, collars, carriers, and toys
  • Non-electronic activities to occupy children, including puzzles, books, and games

Important Documents

  • Copies of insurance policies, family forms, medical documents, personal identification, and bank account information
  • Contact information for family members, emergency services, evacuation sites, and county emergency management offices
  • An extra set of car, house, and office keys
  • Any veterinary records, service animal identification, and proof of ownership

Please Note: This list is a recommendation ONLY and not an exhaustive list of all items that could be included in your family’s Emergency Kit. For a complete list of items, please use this checklist provided by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Guidelines for Evacuation Plans

Having a pre-determined evacuation plan is essential for remaining safe during a hurricane. Some key steps that can be followed include:

  1. Identifying Your Evacuation Zone: Familiarize yourself with local evacuation routes and zones. Make sure to stay tuned to local weather stations for alerts from local authorities to stay informed on evacuation orders and mandates.
  2. Designate a Safe Location: Establish a plan to evacuate to a friend or family member’s home in case of an emergency. Make sure this location is outside of the evacuation zone.
  3. Prepare Your Pets: Never leave your pets behind! If you have any pets living in your home, create a plan on how to evacuate them safely with you. Identify pet-friendly shelters and pack an emergency kit for your pet that includes food, water, medication, and identification.
  4. Emergency Contacts: Gather a list of emergency contact numbers that includes friends and family, doctor’s office, local pharmacy, and emergency services.
  5. Transportation: Prepare your transportation in advance of a hurricane’s arrival with full tanks of gas and ensuring working condition.
  6. Always Avoid Last-Minute Evacuations: Do not wait until the last moment to evacuate your location. Flooding and high winds can cause roads to become impassable while failing to evacuate can lead to dangerous and even fatal outcomes.

What To Do During A Hurricane

  1. Stay Inside: Remain indoors during the storm, staying away from all windows and doors. It is recommended to stay in an interior room that is not prone to flooding and avoid using candles to prevent accidental fire hazards.
  2. Monitor Emergency Updates: Using a battery-operated radio or phone, stay up-to-date with emergency instructions and weather updates. Follow any instructions or evacuation orders if they are issued for your zone.
  3. Avoid Floodwaters and Infection Risks: Floodwaters can be extremely dangerous. Do not walk or drive through floodwaters as they could contain debris, bacteria, or downed powerlines, which can cause extensive personal injury or death.
  4. Stay Hydrated and Nourished: If you have a medical condition or are taking medication that requires stable nutrition, it is essential to remain well-hydrated and nourished.

What to Do After A Hurricane

  1. Seek Necessary Medical Attention: If you or a family member requires medical attention, TGH Urgent Care has over 19 locations in the Tampa Bay area ready to assist with non-life-threatening injuries and services without the need for an appointment.
  2. Check For Damage: Inspect your home and landscaping for any physical damage, broken glass, gas leaks, or unstable structures.
  3. Continue to Avoid Floodwaters: Once a hurricane has passed, it is tempting to go outside immediately; however, floodwaters may still contain hazards and bacteria, so please continue to avoid floodwaters until they have fully receded.
  4. Clean Safely: Hurricanes can bring contaminated water and cause dangerous hazards. Make sure to use protective equipment and gear when cleaning after a hurricane.
  5. Remain Informed: Continue to stay informed on relief efforts, weather patterns, road closures, and emergency advisories.

We Are Here For Your Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane preparedness is vital for living in Florida, especially for residents with medical conditions. By establishing a hurricane preparedness plan and remaining pro-active before, during, and after a storm, you can significantly reduce the dangerous and sometimes fatal outcomes associated with hurricanes. At TGH Urgent Care, we are here to ensure you and your loved ones remain healthy throughout the duration of the hurricane season. With over 19 locations and open seven days a week, we know how to accommodate busy schedules, even during hurricane preparation time. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Schedule your pre-hurricane health check-up today with TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track.

Disclaimer

The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

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