Safety & Preparedness

Hurricane Preparedness

Be Storm Ready 

Hurricane and storm preparedness is crucial for your survival from destructive weather systems.  Take time now to review resource materials that will ensure your preparedness when faced with a threatening storm.  The USF Hurricane Guide and the Pinellas County Hurricane Preparedness Guide both provide useful information that will assist you in preparing your work, home, and family for threatening weather conditions.

Preparing Your Laboratory for a Hurricane

As you are preparing to leave your laboratory in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, USF Division of Environmental Health and Safety recommends the following minimum guidelines:

Chemical Safety

  • Label and cap all chemical containers including waste containers.
  • Move all chemicals to appropriate storage locations.
    • Store water-reactive chemicals in tightly sealed, waterproof containers.
    • Place flammable materials in approved flammable cabinets.
    • Remove chemicals from upper shelves and limit storage on bench tops.
    • Move all chemicals away from exterior windows.
  • Cap gas cylinders and secure to a permanent fixture using a cylinder strap or chain.

Fume Hoods

  • Close fume hood sashes completely. If the building experiences a complete loss of power, fume hoods may become inoperable.
  • Remove all chemicals from fume hoods and secure in appropriate storage areas.


  • Unplug all non-essential equipment (e.g. hotplates, magnetic stirrers, heat mantles.)
  • Use surge protectors to protect sensitive equipment in the event of a power surge.
  • Turn refrigerators/freezers to coldest setting.
  • Ensure that all bench-mounted gas fixtures are in the off position.
  • Move computers and equipment as far from windows as possible.
  • Backup important computer files.


  • Close and lock all laboratory doors.
  • Avoid blocking exits and hallways.
  • Update and post emergency contact information for laboratory personnel.
  • Please protect your laboratory and research equipment. During hurricane season it is imperative that employees and departments protect and secure their areas. This will minimize the potential damage and loss of research in the event of a hurricane.

For assistance or additional information, please contact the Division of Environmental Health & Safety.

Preparing Your Office for a Hurricane

If a Hurricane Warning is issued for the Tampa Bay Area and the USF Operations Plan is activated, the following checklist provides some recommended actions to prepare and preserve your work area.

  • Move desks, file cabinets, worktables and bookcases away from windows and open doorways.
  • Clear desktops, tables and other exposed horizontal surfaces of materials that may be susceptible to high winds and water.
  • Protect books, valuable papers and equipment by covering them with plastic sheeting and storing them inside cabinets, boxes or transferring them to an interior room.
  • Back up computer hard drives.
  • Unplug computers, printers and all other electrical appliances. Protect equipment from water damage by placing them inside thick plastic and sealing the ends with tape.
  • Occupants in areas susceptible to flooding should remove contents from bottom drawers of desks and file cabinets.
  • Provide a means of contact with your supervisor in case damage occurs in the work area.
  • Clean refrigerators and remove food.
  • Close and latch all windows.
  • Drop all blinds and close all shades.

During hurricane season it is imperative that each employee and each department have a plan of protective action for their work area. This will minimize the potential damage and loss of work should a hurricane strike the Tampa Bay area. Please contact the Division of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management for further information and assistance at 974-4036.

Preparing Yourself and Your Family

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council Disaster Planning Guide includes your county’s hurricane evacuation map and information on what you need to do to prepare for hurricane season. Spanish-language versions are also available. There may be changes to the region’s evacuation zones each year, so be sure to check your county’s latest hurricane guide.