Urgent to Make Your Hurricane Plans Now

July 15, 2013 in Ocala News

FEMA Flood WarningOCALA, Fla. — Florida Department of Health officials are advising state residents to make final preparations in the event of a hurricane watch in your area. When a hurricane watch is issued, you should take the following precautions right away:

- Fill your automobile’s gas tank. If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.

- Fill your clean water containers and review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.

- Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals and tune-in the radio or television for weather updates.

- Prepare an emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.

- Secure outside items, such as patio furniture, bicycles, grills and propane tanks.

- Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Some emergency shelters may not accept animals.

- Place vehicles under cover, if at all possible.

- Fill sinks and bathtubs with water as an extra supply for washing.

- Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.

If you are ordered to evacuate your area, do so. Because of the destructive power of a hurricane, you should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will be most likely to direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of a storm. Be aware that most shelters and some hotels do not accept pets.

If you are directed by authorities to evacuate your area, be ready to follow these guidelines:

- Take only essential items.

- If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity and water. Disconnect appliances to avoid damage from a sudden surge when power is restored.

- Make sure your automobile’s emergency kit is ready.

- Follow the designated evacuation routes. Other routes might be blocked. Expect heavy traffic.

If you are ordered not to evacuate:

- Monitor the radio or television for weather conditions.

- Stay indoors until the authorities declare the storm is over. Do not go outside, even if the weather appears to have calmed. The calm eye of the storm can pass quickly, leaving you outside when strong winds resume.

- If possible, take shelter in a windowless, interior room or closet. Stay away from all windows and exterior doors. Bathtubs can provide some shelter if you cover yourself with plywood or other materials.

- Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

Knowing what to do when officials issue a storm warning is important if you want to be prepared for an emergency. But don’t wait for the storm to arrive to get ready. Make an emergency plan now. Your plan should include:

- What you and your family will do.

- What to have on hand.

- What to take with you.

- Where to go, if necessary.

- A pet plan.

For more information on how to create an emergency plan for your family and pets, and for a copy of the Florida Department of Health’s Emergency Preparedness Guide, visit http://www.floridashealth.com

Additional information on preparing for disasters is available at the following websites:

Florida Division of Emergency Management

American Red Cross

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Emergency Management Agency