If you are advised to evacuate, turn off your utilities at the main switches and/or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances, but do not touch any electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. Do not walk or drive through standing or flowing water; there may be downed power line, sinkhole or even a canal that you are unable to see. Watch your step in flooded areas as a slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries after a storm.
Flood Protection Tips
Protecting your Property: If your lot is large enough, you should consider regrading it or building a small floodwall. You can also place watertight closures over the doorways' however, these approaches only protect if flooding is not too deep. You can also consider elevating your home.
Minimizing Flood Damage: Don't throw or dump anything into storm sewers or canals within the City. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels and drains. A plugged channel or storm drain cannot carry water when it rains. Clogged storm drains will cause water to back up into the street and may cause flooding. Every piece of trash contributes to flooding. If your property is next to a canal, help keep the banks clear of brush and debris. The City has a canal maintenance program which can help remove major blockages such as downed trees; please report any blockages to 727-724-1550.
Do not walk through water, or drive through a flooded area: Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there. Also do not disregard road barriers, the road or bridge may be washed out.
Have your electricity turned off: Some appliances, such as television sets, hold electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Avoid using appliances or motors which have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
Be ready for the unexpected: Place important documents inside plastic bags or other waterproof containers. Review your insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage. Know what type of coverage you have. Most policies cover wind storm damage, but not flooding. Any policy change usually takes 30 days before going into effect.
Look out for animals, especially snakes: Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals. Even domesticated animals may react differently after a disaster or storm and could bite or attack.
Look before you step: After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
Be alert for gas leaks: If you use natural gas, use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.
If you must evacuate: If you are required to evacuate, try to move to the house of a friend or family member not affected by the impending high waters. If you live in a mobile home, or are electrically dependent, plan to evacuate at the first notice of the emergency conditions. Rehearse your evacuation plan with all household members. Plan to leave early to avoid any traffic delays.
Securing Boats: If you own a boat, it's your responsibility to secure it. As a boat owner, you should make a plan in advance to move your boat or arrange for its storage. Check with a local marina for suitable alternatives. If possible, store it inside a garage or warehouse. If you must leave your boat outside, attach the trailer tongue to something firm in the ground, let the air out of the tires and make sure the boat is secure to the trailer. If possible, fill the bilge with water, which adds extra weight. If you plan to keep your boat in the canal, be sure to double the dock lines, leaving sufficient space for the tidal range and put out extra anchors. Don't forget to remove all marine electronics or other unsecured equipment. Sail boaters should remove self-furling sails and Bimini tops. Boats on davits should be secured with extra tie lines and in such a manner to keep the boat from swinging during high winds.
Pet Safety Tips: Remember, most evacuation centers will not accept pets. So make plans in advance to board your pets in an animal kennel or with friends. If you plan to ask a friend, be sure to ask in advance. Make certain that your friend lives in an area that is not expected to be affected by the storm. Ask if their home would be open to you and/or your pet should a storm threaten. Do not leave your pet home during a hurricane. A secure room and a few days' food and water do not necessarily mean safety for your pet. Many people returned home after Hurricane Andrew to find their pets missing. Keep a current picture of your pet to help identify it. After the storm, take caution in allowing your pet outdoors after the storm has passed. Familiar scents and landmarks will have been altered and your pet may become confused or lost. Downed power lines also present real dangers. Take precautions not to allow your pet to consume food or water which may have become contaminated.