TAVARES — The Lake County Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Division, is reminding local residents about the importance of being prepared for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1 and extends until the end of November.
Some preparations the Emergency Management Division encourages residents to take include stocking a disaster supply kit, reviewing or developing their family disaster plan and signing up for the County’s emergency notification system, AlertLake.
AlertLake, launched earlier this year, uses landline telephone information housed within the emergency 911 database to distribute emergency information. For residents that might not have a landline telephone, they now have the ability to register their cellular and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones, as well as e-mail address through the County’s website at www.lakecountyfl.gov to receive notifications. AlertLake also has accommodations for disseminating information in 27 different languages.
“AlertLake will give the County an opportunity to provide safety and preparedness information to citizens during emergency events by phone or e-mail,” said Jerry Smith, Lake County’s Emergency Management Director. “The intent of the system is to provide residents with another means of receiving vital life-safety information, in addition to those received by a NOAA weather radio or local news media.”
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 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 & towels; and plastic utensils & cups
- Toiletries, such as toothpaste and brush; deodorant and soap; shaving equipment; personal hygiene supplies; shampoo; wash cloth and towel; and toilet paper
- Garbage bags, resealable plastic bags and tarps
- Supplies for infants, including diapers and formula
- Supplies for senior citizens, including special dietary considerations and incontinence pads
- At least a two-week supply of prescribed family medicines, as well as a typical first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream, headache medicine and antacids
- Blankets, pillows, extra clothing
- Battery-powered NOAA weather radio, HDTV 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
- Camera to record damage to property
- Rain gear and hard sole shoes
- Cleaning supplies and equipment
- Pet supplies including food water and medicines
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 winds 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:
- Plan for your pets. If you must evacuate your home, it is always best to take your pets with you.
- Be familiar with escape routes in case you need to evacuate your neighborhood. Plan several escape routes for different situations.
- Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
- Instruct family members on how to monitor battery-operated NOAA weather radio and news reports on television and AM/FM radio.
- Select one calling point, possibly a friend or relative, where family members can contact, if they are separated from the rest of the family.
- Learn and post emergency phone numbers and information.
- Register to receive emergency notification information through AlertLake by logging on to www.lakecountyfl.gov, keyword search: Emergency
- Take a basic first aid and CPR class.
- Stock a disaster-supply kit.
For more hurricane-preparation information, call the Lake County Emergency Management Division at (352) 343-9420.