The Importance of Planning for a Disaster

In Florida, we are particularly vulnerable to severe weather like hurricanes.  Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th.  Planning and knowing what to do and where to ge is key to protecting your family and property in the event of a disaster.

Although each resident is responsible for their own safety, we want you to have information for smart and safe preparation for a disaster.  The first step in disaster planning is meeting with your family to discuss why preparing for disasters is important.  Explain the dangers of certain disasters, like fire, tornadoes, and hurricanes to children, the elderly and persons requiring special assistance.

Your personal disaster preparedness plan should include a minimum of three components: assembling an emergency supply kit, preparing an evacuation plan, and creating a home protection plan.  You may consider adding other elements to your plan depending on your specific needs and situation.

The following information is provide to help you form your own family disaster plan.  The information is general in nature and is not intended to provide advice.  You should consider other available resources and customize your family disaster plan, so you can react quickly and safely to a sudden emergency of any type.

Assemble a Family Emergency Kit

  *  One-week supply of fluids for drinking and hygiene - one gallon per person per day for seven to ten days
  *  Non-perishable food that does not require cooking and manual can opener
  *  Important documents should be kept in a fire-proof and water-proof container
  *  First aid kit, medications and copies of prescriptions, extra eye glasses, personal hygiene items
  *  Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils
  *  Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, air mattresses or folding cots
  *  Lightweight folding chairs, quiet games and books
  *  One change of clothes and shoes per person
  *  Rain gear, utility knife, sturdy work shoes or boots
  *  Lantern/oil and matches in a sealed container
  *  Radio and batteries

When an evocation becomes likely or inevitable:

  *  Get adequate cash (ATM's may be out of service post-storm)
  *  Fill your gas tank
  *  Have a cooler with ice
  *  Take important medical information, insurance policies, an inventory list of property, driver's license and other            personal identification documents with you

Prepare an Evacuation Plan

Where To Go

Draw a floor plan of your residence and mark two escape routes from each room.  Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.

Ask how you would be warned of an emergency and learn the warning signals used by the local municipality; both what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.

Community clubhouses are not designated as a storm or emergency shelter; therefore, you must seek shelter outside of your community.  Learn the area's emergency routes out of the area and travel to a safe place with friends or relatives if possible.  If not, know where there is a Red Cross designated safe place or other emergency shelters.  Be sure to: 

  *  Pick one out-of-state and one local relative and friend as an emergency contact.  This information should be             provided to your family members in the event they are separated.  
  *  Provide your community's management team with your emergency contact information, including your cell and         other numbers where you may be staying.
  *  Make arrangements for your family pets; some shelters and hotels won't allow pets.

Before a storm is the time to register with the local Emergency Management Office to make any special-needs arrangements for your family.  You may need to complete and return a form by mail, so plan early.  Home health care and house-bound patients should contact their health agency for instructions and/or evacuation assistance.  Some shelters have oxygen on premises, but no emergency shelter is equipped to provide long-term care services.  Chronically ill or disabled persons should have a needs assessment by their health care provider when conditions begin to warrant concern.  If necessary, call the Fire Department and ask the Special Needs Coordinator to assist you.

Have a Home Protection Plan

Your home and yard should be secured at least 18 hours prior to the storm or before you evacuate.  Store any outside furniture, lawn ornaments, signs or planters inside you home.  Anything that can become airborne should be secured or removed.

Inventory your property.  A time-stamped video of the interior and exterior of your home is best or take numerous pictures of your belongings inside and out for insurance purposes.

Install storm shutters and protective material for large windows and glass doors.  Do not tape windows or leave windows cracked open.  Turn your refrigerator down to the lowest (coldest) setting and shut and lock all windows and doors.

Learn how to shut off utilities to your home (electric, gas, and water).  Turn off utilities only if you expect the lines to be damaged or if your are instructed to.  If you shut your gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.

When To Go

You should evacuate as soon as an evacuation order is issued or sooner.  Watch weather forecasts and plan accordingly.  Depending on where you are located and where your are going a complete evacuation can take 12 to 24 hours.  Don't wait until it's too late.  Follow the advice of emergency professionals.

After The Storm

Check with your community to determine when it is safe for you to return.  Upon returning contact your insurance agent if you had property damage and take pictures or video of the damage.  When you return home, follow these guidelines for your safety:

  *  Gas - If you shut off the gas supply to your home, do not attempt to turn in back on yourself.  Contact your local         gas company for assistance.
  *  Electricity - Community management will be in touch with local utility companies to expedite the return of electric       service to your home.
  *  Water Service - Community management will be in touch with local water/sewer providers to attempt to have
     this service returned as quickly as possible.  After any major storm event, please follow any boil water guidelines       as a precaution until utilities are restored to normal working condition.