Jeez - that is a nasty one ss. When you see a "bow echo" like that, it's going to be especially nasty. That was what was seen on radar for the Dauphin Island Race disaster as well.
For our boat, I carried a PLB in our ditchbag. That essentially served as our EPIRB. We also had lots of other emergency gear (waterproof VHF, watermaker, etc.) and rations in that bag as well as a liferaft ready at the pushpit. Then we also had the detachable SPOT tracker at the helm for back-up emergency calls if needed. I felt that covered us pretty well as a boat/crew. As far as individuals - at least when offshore - the boys always clipped in. I, of course, would get a bit relaxed on that rule if it was daytime and things were calm - but I never let up on the boys as I wanted to build that habit. And no one was EVER above decks without a PFD...ever. But we did not have PLBs on our vests. That's what the tether was for.
The year before our trip - a father and his three teen kids were lost off the coast of FL due to one of these storms the same time of year we were sailing. So I was definitely thinking about that with each mile we sailed.
You mentioned the commercial traffic hunkering down. In that Florida storm I showed above, as you can see in the video of that part of our trip, the morning had been nothing but sunshine and perfect wind - then that wall of gray started coming at us. I watched on AIS as a medium sized ship came out of the shipping lane and dropped anchor - LONG before that cell got near us as you can see in the pics.
I'd never seen that before and thought it was weird - especially this far out. That should have been my first clue. Of course, for us, there was nowhere to duck in. So we just had to take it on the chin.
As I said, I had already dropped all sail and started the motor in preparation for it - and when it hit I just turned and ran with it under bare poles. It was pretty easy. Then when it started easing a bit I just slowly circled the ship about 1/2 mile away in case it was going to get worse. It didn't - just like most of these storms, it blew past after an hour or two.
We then started back toward St. Pete right after. No problems at all.