It's May in Florida and that can only mean one thing: it's time to start preparing for the 2020 hurricane season.


To help residents get ready for a storm, the 2020 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.


The sales tax holiday begins May 29 and extends through June 4.


During the sales tax holiday period, qualifying items related to disaster preparedness are exempt from sales tax.


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Here's a list of items that qualify this year for the sales tax exemption:


Qualifying items:


Selling for $10 or less: Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)


Selling for $20 or less: Any portable, self-powered light source (powered by battery, solar, hand crank, or gas): candles, flashlights, lanterns


Selling for $25 or less: Any gas or diesel fuel container, including LP gas and kerosene containers


Selling for $30 or less: Batteries, including rechargeable batteries, listed sizes only (excluding automobile and boat batteries):  AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, 9-volt; coolers and ice chests (food-storage; nonelectrical)


Selling for $50 or less: Bungee cords; ground anchor systems; radios (powered by battery, solar, or hand crank), two-way or weather band; ratchet straps; tarpaulins (tarps), tie-down kits; visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths and other flexible waterproof sheeting


Selling for $750 or less: Portable generators used to provide light or communications, or to preserve food in the event of a power outage


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Basic disaster supplies kit


A basic emergency supply kit for your home should include not only enough supplies to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath.


Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of three days. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long.


You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. You may need a portable crank or solar-powered USB charger for your cell phones.


Here's a suggested list of supplies you should have on hand:


– One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation


– Food, at least enough for three to seven days, including: non-perishable packaged or canned food and juices, food for infants and the elderly, snack food, vitamins, paper plates and plastic utensils.


– Battery-powered or hand crank radio


– Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger


– Flashlight and extra batteries


– First-aid kit, plus medicines and prescription drugs


– Whistle to signal for help


– Toiletries, including hygiene items, moisture wipes, sanitizer


– Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation


– Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities


– Manual can opener


– Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)


– Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place


– Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container


– Cash and change


– Pet care items, proper identification, immunization records, ample food and water, medicine, a carrier or cage and leash.


Red Cross suggested emergency supply list


– Store important documents in a fire and waterproof container, including


– Insurance papers


– Medical records


Bank account numbers


– Social Security cards


– Deeds or mortgages


– Birth and marriage certificates


– Stocks and bondsRecent tax returns


– Wills


Sources: Fema.gov, National Weather Service



What to bring to a shelter


Usually, evacuees are told to take a few important things to a shelter. Food. Batteries. Flashlights. A change of clothes. Medication. Maybe a book or two and comfort items for children.


The coronavirus has already meant a new addition to your shelter supply list. The CDC recommends if you need to go to a public shelter, bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person and, if possible, hand sanitizer.


Here are more ideas for a better shelter experience.


The basics:


– Bedding, pillows and, if possible, an air mattress or cot. Most Red Cross shelters do not have cots and the most comfortable shelter goers had air mattresses.


– Get creative, make a bed out of sofa cushions or plastic lounge chairs or pool float.


– Earplugs and eye masks. Babies scream, people may talk while you're sleeping. Lights may turn on at daybreak.


– Pack food that does not need to be heated. The food is limited at shelters, so bring extras such as peanut butter, jelly, bread, fruit and snacks and store them in an ice-packed cooler. Don't forget a can opener.


– Drinking water. Shelter officials recommend a gallon a day per person. Err on the generous side, you never know how long a storm will linger.


– Surge protector and chargers. While the power is on you’ll want to make sure your phones and devices remain charged. There are not many outlets so bringing a surge protector will help and make you popular among your fellow evacuees.


Keep yourself busy:


– Games, books, cards, magazines. Once the power goes out, so do the televisions.


– Bring along board games for kids. If you like crafts, pack supplies such as knitting needles.


– If you bring a tablet or laptop, realize most shelters, which are public schools, will not allow you to use their wireless network.


The extras:


Air freshener. Remember: There could be a few bathrooms for hundreds of people. Also on this note, bring toilet paper and deodorant, just in case.


Handheld, battery-powered fans, or paper fans. Storms could cut out power and generators likely would be used for lights and kitchen use only.


Batteries and portable battery packs. For cell phones, portable televisions, portable video games, etc.