Leave your home if you are in a mandatory evacuation area when county officials give the order. If you stay and find yourself in trouble during the storm, recuers cannot come to help you.
The biggest danger is high water and flooding, not high winds. Water is the big killer in hurricanes. The exception to this rule is manufactured homes. Residents of these homes should evacuate no matter how close they are to flood zones. Hurricane tie-downs have historically failed after winds reach a certain speed.
Consider alternatives to official shelters, which quickly become crowded and uncomfortable. Do you have friends with a secure house who will take you in? Can you find a hotel in a safe zone?
One reason many Suncoast residents stayed in unsafe housing during the 2004 storms was that they had no place to keep their pets safe. Remember, that some county shelters will be designated "pet friendly" and you can take your furry friend with you.
Stay at home if you are not in a mandatory evacuation area or an area that is prone to flooding, and your home is secure.
Those who plan to stay in their homes should have a safe room in the interior of the home with no windows and with walls reinforced for the protection of your family. This is where you should take shelter when storm conditions become severe.
Download the ABC 7 MySuncoast.com Hurricane Guide and save or print it for an offline reference.