Residents urged to be prepared as hurricane season begins

Hurricane Irma. // Archive photo

As the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1, Lake County Emergency Management leaders are reminding residents to be vigilant.

Of course, few residents need a reminder about the destruction of the 2017 season, which included Hurricane Irma, a storm in September that covered the entire state of Florida. Overall, the hurricane season was marked by 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes, a county news release states.

Experts predict the upcoming season could be near average or slightly above average, however, Floridians always should be prepared for a major storm. The Lake Emergency Management center is urging residents to take steps now to help keep their families safe during severe weather.

“While Lake County was not the worst-hit area affected by Irma, we still experienced nearly $40 million in damage and months of debris cleanup,” Emergency Management Director Tommy Carpenter says in the release. “This hurricane, again, was proof that it only takes one storm to create a dangerous situation, and preparedness is key in protecting life and property.”

In Lake, hurricane hazards may include heavy rainfall, high winds, inland flooding, and tornadoes. Some hazards may come with little or no warning.

Residents are encouraged to develop a family communication plan, decide on a meeting location during an emergency, and prepare a disaster go-kit that includes important personal, medical, and legal documents. Residents also should be aware of what to bring to an emergency shelter, including food and water for three days, medication, bedding, and important documents. Pets at pet-friendly shelters must be transported in their own carriers and must be up-to-date on vaccines, so it’s important to prepare for pets now.

However, evacuating to an emergency shelter always should be a last resort. All residents, especially those living in manufactured homes, should have a safe shelter plan that includes access to a friend’s or relative’s site-built, fortified home 24 hours a day. People living in manufactured homes should be sure they have ample time to get to their designated safe space when severe weather is predicted, the release states.

To be notified quickly about weather emergencies, residents should purchase a battery-powered NOAA weather radio and sign up to receive local notifications, such as those offered through Lake County’s AlertLake emergency alert system. Signing up is free, quick, easy, and secure at alertlake.com.

Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30. For more information, visit lakecountyfl.gov/emergency and follow Emergency Management at facebook.com/lakecountyflemergencymanagement and twitter.com/lakeemergency.

Lake County photo

In its monthly newsletter, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offers these additional resources to prepare your family and home for potential hurricanes.

Have a plan – Prior to the threat of a disaster, families can create a personalized Family Disaster Plan at floridadisaster.org/getaplan. This site provides checklists and important steps to take before, during, and after the disaster.

Home repair – Be cautious of repair businesses or individuals who solicit door-to-door in the wake of a hurricane. Check each contractor’s address, license, and complaint history before hiring by calling the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850.487.1395, or visit its website at myfloridalicense.com.

Food safety – Power may go out due to storm winds, potentially affecting food storage. Get food safety tips at freshfromflorida.com/divisions-offices/food-safety.

Generator safety – Portable generators are useful during power outages, but they also can be dangerous. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur from generators or grills when they are used indoors, in partially enclosed spaces, or near vents or windows that allow fumes to enter your home. Visit Carbon Monoxide Safety Toolkit for more information.

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