News hurricane evacuation route

Published on May 31st, 2013 | by NSB Observer

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Stay Safe During This Season’s Storms

A statement from Health and Human Services 

The devastation wrought by the recent powerful tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area is a tragic reminder of the importance of being prepared for severe weather of all kinds.  National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 25-June 1, is a time to emphasize that preparing for these massive storms is vital to every family’s health and well-being.  By preparing now, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the damaging impacts of a storm.

Last fall, many along the East Coast felt the impact of Hurricane Sandy, one of the largest hurricanes in history. The storm affected millions of people, and for some, the devastation will be felt for a lifetime. This season, I urge you to make a plan to stay safe and protect your health as storms develop so you are ready when minutes count.

Steps you can take to keep you and your family safe include:

  • Discuss with your family what you will do if you need to evacuate. Where will you meet? What will you take with you? How will you check in so that you’ll know who is okay and who isn’t?
    • If you have a pet, make a plan for your pet if you have to evacuate.
    • Get backups for things you need every day:
      • Do you have backup clean drinking water?
      • Do you have a backup supply of medication, and a copy of your current prescription?
      • If you use electricity to run medical equipment (like a nebulizer, oxygen concentrator, or ventilator) or to keep your medication refrigerated, do you know where to go if the power goes out? Do you know where you can go to recharge your batteries? Do you know who you will call if you need help getting there?
      • Do you have a backup copy of your medical record? You can ask your doctor to print a copy for you, or save an electronic copy in the cloud or on an external hard drive or enter the information into a smart phone or tablet application.
      • Make sure you know how to use a backup generator safely. Remember to keep it outdoors and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
      • Talk to your friends and family about your emergency plans. Establish family and friends as your lifelines, and talk about how you could help each other and communicate during and after a hurricane.
      • If you know a storm is coming, follow the instructions of your local emergency officials. If they suggest evacuating, get out of harm’s way.
      • Make sure to fully charge your cell phone or other mobile devices so you can communicate after a storm.  Plan to text, email, or use social media to let everyone know you’re okay so phone lines remain open for first responders.

These steps can save your life and keep your loved ones safe. For more information on how to stay safe and protect health in an emergency, please visit:

 Public Health Emergency – Hurricane Preparedness Week

CDC – Emergency Preparedness and You

 Food Safety – In an Emergency

FDA – Safe Drug Use After a Natural Disaster

Ready: Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed

 National Hurricane Center

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) also reminds residents to consider important health matters while preparing for hurricane season. Beginning June 1, Floridians should begin stocking supplies and creating an emergency plan in preparation.

“Florida residents are encouraged to include important health related items and medical documents in their preparedness kits,” said Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health. “By planning ahead to have necessary medications, signing up for special needs sheltering, and preparing to use a generator safely, Floridians and their families can remain safe and healthy during hurricane season.”

Remember to have an extra supply of prescription medications – In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, you may need to evacuate your home. Access to regular health and medical services may be temporarily limited. Ensure you are able to continue taking your medications by being prepared.

Plan in advance for special needs - If you or someone in your family has special needs, make sure your plans include preparing for any special evacuation requirements, special equipment or supplies, provisions for service animals and any other information that would be important for emergency responders to know. Contact your local emergency management office to learn more about special needs shelters and to pre-register.

 Know how to safely use a generator  Portable generators can be a handy tool during a power outage, yet can also be dangerous if used improperly.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can cause serious health concerns including weakness, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death. NEVER operate a generator indoors. ALWAYS operate outside in an open, dry, well-ventilated area.

 For more information on hurricane preparedness click here.

 View DOH’s emergency preparedness video “Don’t Forgo the H2O” here.

DOH protects, promotes and improves the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow them on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For news story ideas, interviews, videos and more from DOH Communications visit the DOH Online Newsroom.


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