TAVARES — The Lake County Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Division, is encouraging local residents to observe National Hurricane Awareness Week, May 21-27, by stockpiling a disaster supply kit and reviewing or developing their family disaster plan.
“When a disaster strikes, there may not be much time to act,” said Jerry Smith, Director of the Lake County Emergency Management Division. “Preparing now for an emergency will give you and your family precious seconds to enact a safe and well-thought-out plan.”
The high winds, flooding and tornadoes spawned by hurricanes have the potential to cut water, electricity and telephone services for days. After a disaster, local emergency officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they will not be able to reach everyone immediately. It could take hours or even days before help can get to your community.
Preparing a disaster supply kit will help your family better cope with the situation. Recommended items for a disaster supply kit include:
- One gallon of water daily per person for five days
- Enough non-perishable food for the household for at least five days
- A non-electric can opener; cooking tools and fuel; paper plates; and plastic utensils
- Toiletries, such as toothpaste and brush; deodorant and soap; shaving equipment; personal hygiene supplies; shampoo; wash cloth and towel; and toilet paper
- Supplies for infants, including diapers and formula
- Supplies for senior citizens, including special dietary considerations and incontinence pads
- At least two weeks supply of prescribed family medicines, as well as a typical first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream, headache medicine and antacids
- Blankets and pillows
- Battery-powered radio and flashlight; and extra batteries
- A waterproof container with extra cash and important documents, such as insurance, bank account and Social Security cards
- A list of important phone numbers including the family’s local pharmacy, doctors and designated contacts the family can call in case of an emergency
From May 21 to June 1, a sales tax-free holiday in the State of Florida is scheduled for many hurricane preparedness items. For a complete listing of items qualifying for sales-tax exemption, consult the attached publication from the Florida Department of Revenue.
The first step to creating a family disaster plan is to hold a family meeting to discuss the dangers of hurricanes and other emergencies, such as fires and other severe weather. For hurricanes, families should openly discuss sheltering options. If a hurricane sets its sights on Central Florida, it is important Lake County residents know where they plan to shelter for the duration of the storm. Because of the destructive power and torrential rainfall of a hurricane, residents in a manufactured home or low-lying area should never ignore an evacuation order.
Lake County shelters are storm-hardened facilities. Evacuating residents should think twice about staying in “shelters” that are not designated by the American Red Cross and Emergency Management. Another option besides evacuating to a Lake County designated shelter is finding shelter with a friend or relative in a site-built home. While Lake County’s shelters are high on safety, residents may tend to find the comfort level more accommodating in a site-built home of a friend or relative.
A well-thought-out plan of action for you and your family can go a long way toward reducing potential suffering from any type of disaster that could strike. Household emergency plans should be kept simple. The best emergency plans are those that are easy to remember.
Some other tips to include in a family disaster plan include:
- Teach responsible family members how to turn off the utilities in the home.
- Discuss what to do during power outages.
- Be familiar with escape routes in case you need to evacuate your neighborhood. Plan several escape routes for different contingencies.
- Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
- Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
- Select two calling points, possibly a friend or relative, where family members can check in to, in case they are separated from the rest of the family.
- Learn and post emergency phone numbers and information.
- Take a basic first aid and CPR class.
For more hurricane preparation information, call the Lake County Emergency Management Division at (352) 343-9420 or log on to www.lakegovernment.com, keyword: hurricane.