Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the 2011 hurricane season will be busier than average. As the six-month season launches, Patch is collating information to arm readers living along Florida’s west coast, for what may be a stormy time. The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th.
NOAA’s Hurricane Center predicts a range of 12 - 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Six to 10 of those could become hurricanes (winds of 75 mph or higher), while somewhere between three to six may become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 - meaning winds of 111 m.p.h. or higher).
- Social media tools offered by FEMA and NOAA, include vitally important information for evacuees displaced by a storm.
- FEMA lists preparation tips for folks with special health needs. They also offer online information creatively geared toward children.
- The Pinellas County Emergency Management website offers information about evacuating, shelters and preparedness.
- You can follow the Pinellas County Emergency Management on twitter and facebook.
- Sign up your email address for the E-Lert Newsletter to stay informed.
- The Pinellas County Citizen’s Information Center (727) 464-4333, or TDD (727) 464-3075, is your best source for shelter information in the area.
- Officials say you should register now for a special needs shelter: www.pinellascounty.org/emergency.
This week, we’re offering a list of items you may want to include in a home disaster kit. Experts advise getting prepared long before a storm is headed our way. We recommend a transparent tub with an airtight lid, for stowing items. Prepare a smaller kit in a backpack, that will allow you to grab and go in case of an evacuation.
Home Disaster Kit recommendations include:
- Battery adapters: commercially available, these can convert battery sizes, in case of a battery shortage
- Extra cell phone batteries and a car charger.
- Water: at least one gallon per person, per day for three-seven days (for drinking, cooking and hygiene). You may also want to pack a water filter or water purification tablets.
- Food: non-perishable (tuna, granola bars, canned soups, dehydrated camping meals, MREs). Include a manual can opener. Consider stocking a few disposable charcoal grills, or a Hibachi and charcoal. Wind and waterproof matches, foil and Ziploc bags for storing food are helpful.
- First Aid Supplies: Band-Aids, gauze, bandage scissors, antibiotic ointment, Latex gloves, eye wash solution, aspirin or Iburofen, antacid anti-diarrheal medication, blister protection and a water purifier.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Personal hygiene: hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, toilet paper, travel size shampoo, soap and deodorant.
- Radio: battery-powered, hand crank or solar - with a NOAA Weather alert
- Trash bags and plastic ties.
- Wrench and pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Extra batteries and car chargers for cell phones
- Medication for three to seven days.
- SPF lotion to prevent sunburn and additional health emergencies.
- Battery powered fans (or stock some personal fans)
- Cooler for medication and perishable food.
- List of out-of-state contact(s) and family physicians.
- Baby food and baby items ( diapers, medication, bottles, clothing).
- Special Needs: If you have a family member with special health considerations, include at least a week’s supply of bandages, suction catheters or nasal cannulas, and extra batteries for hearing aids.
Documents: You should also have copies of certain documents including:
- birth certificates/driver’s license, military i.d.
- car registration and title
- copies of wills/ power of attorney/health care surrogate designation
- copies of credit card information
- medical/dental cards (including Medicare)
- power of attorney and related paperwork
- property tax forms
- insurance policies
- recent pay stubs (in case you need unemployment benefits)
- social security cards
- recent tax returns
Have cash or traveler’s checks since ATM machines may not work when the power fails.
Backpack: copies of documents, a water filter, matches, flashlight, radio, medication and emergency alert tags, your first aid kit and a list of physicians and out-of-state family contacts. You can also include granola bars, but put everything in watertight bags or containers.
At Home: To prepare your home for hurricane season, consider reinforcing your garage, front door and roof. You can also use special film on windows that holds shattered glass. You may also want to assess your yard and trim any limbs that could strike the house in a high wind. Consider bringing in yard ornaments and hoses during hurricane season and inspect your roof for loose shingles and nails.
If you lose power, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Experts say this will keep food colder for a longer period. If you unsure about food safety, check the FDA website.
Additional resources may help you think about how to best prepare for a hurricane, wind storm or flood.