Preparing for a Disaster

HurricaneIt’s been ten years since Florida experienced a devastating hurricane. With such a long gap, it’s easy to forget just how devastating a hurricane can be and get lax in emergency preparedness.

We never know when or where a storm will hit, so it’s important to be prepared at all times.

Preparing for a Hurricane:

  • Make sure you have a family plan: Depending on when a storm hits, your family may not be all together. Kids could be in school or you could be at work, so you’ll need a plan on how to contact each other and where to meet. The Florida Division of Emergency Management offers the “Get a Plan” site, where they offer personalized advice and recommendations to develop a plan based on your family and location.
  • Register on the Florida Special Needs Registry if applicable: Those with special needs should register with the local emergency management agency in order to receive assistance during a disaster. To sign up, visit the Florida Special Needs Registry
  • Update your insurance policy: Not all home and renter insurance policies cover flood damage, so be sure your policy does. Take an inventory of items in your home, including photos of valuables, and keep them in a water-proof container or safe. Better yet, save an electronic copy on Google Drive or another cloud storage system so you can access your documents even if you cannot get back into your home.
  • Prepare a home emergency kit: Keep non-perishable foods, a manual can-opener, batteries, first-aid kit, flashlights, a crank radio, bottled water, blankets, and important documents in a secure container. It’s a good idea to set aside 5 days of water and food to prepare for the worst. If you have pets, make sure you have food and water set aside for them as well. Since credit card machines and ATMs may not be working during a disaster, it also is a good idea to keep an emergency stash of cash in your kit to get you through the first few days.
  • Fill up containers: If a storm is incoming, fill up the bathtub and other large containers with as much water as you can. In case of power and system loss, you can use this water for washing, cooking and even flushing the toilet.
  • Stay inside: During a hurricane, stay inside and get into a room in your home with no windows, even if that is a closet or bathroom. Use your emergency crank radio to stay updated on the storm and when it is safe to come out.
  • Evacuate when ordered: If an evacuation is ordered for your area, leave immediately! Delaying could make it impossible to get to safety or for emergency personnel to reach you. Channel News 13 offers a directory of shelters in your area. United Way’s Information and Assistance Helpline 2-1-1 will also be able to direct you to sand-bag locations, shelters and other disaster information.

In addition to providing critical information about evacuation routes, shelters and resources prior to a major storm, United Way’s 2-1-1 also helps residents find assistance with food, water, debris removal, power restoration and other critical needs in the immediate aftermath. During times of disaster, 2-1-1 also coordinates response efforts with Emergency Operations Centers in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, as well as local agencies that provide help with food, shelter and other essential services. 2-1-1 is available by phone, chat, text and email. For more information, visit the 2-1-1 website.


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