Published: Jul 08, 2011 6:11 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 27, 2012 11:36 PM EDT

HURRICANE CENTRAL - Evacuating the area if you are advised to do so is always the best option. But while relying solely on a shelter is not recommended, it is better than staying in an unsafe location.

If seeking refuge in a shelter is part of your hurricane plan, here's what you need to know.

Shelters are not hotels. You'll need to bring your own supplies. Not all shelters will be open during a storm. Emergency managers in each county will decide what shelters to open depending on a storm's path and location of the shelter.

You must bring your own personal hygiene items, and items for sleeping. You'll have to pack your own special snacks and drinks along with changes of clothes, and baby supplies. If you're on any medications, you'll want to make sure you bring that. And don't forget about items to keep the kids busy. Weapons, smoking and alcohol are not allowed at any public shelter.

For those of you with special needs it's important for you to register to go to a special needs shelter. You must do this as soon as possible, before a storm! You must re-apply each year.

Everything you would take to a normal public shelter, you should also bring to a special needs shelter along with a companion or caregiver.

For more on special needs shelters or shelter locations, click on the links below.

Lee County shelter locations

Lee County special needs shelter information

Collier County shelter locations

Collier County special needs shelter information

Charlotte County shelter locations

Charlotte County special needs shelter information