Are You Prepared? Central Florida Emergency Planning
Central Florida is no stranger to natural disasters that can strike quickly and without warning. The region’s tumultuous weather includes tornadoes and heat waves as well as severe thunderstorms and hurricanes that can trigger flash floods. State- and countywide emergencies can quickly overwhelm first responders and medical facilities. Natural disasters can prevent you from living in your home, separate you from your family and limit your access to daily necessities. The Florida Department of Health and various other governmental agencies recommend that every family, neighborhood and community have basic precautions in place to withstand situations ranging from power outages to inaccessible roads. The Orange County Office of Emergency Management provides several resources that you can use to prepare yourself and your household.
HAVE A PLAN
The process starts with a plan that outlines how family members should contact one another, what to do if the power goes out and where you will go in case of an evacuation. You must also consider the possibility that you will have to shelter in place without power or water. The plan should address how you will handle health concerns and special transportation needs. Remember to include instructions regarding the preparation and care of service animals and family pets. Create a checklist that ensures everyone understands what to do if an emergency occurs.
PREPARE A DISASTER KIT
The City of Orlando recommends that you create an emergency kit as part of your planning. The package should include a three-day supply of water, nonperishable food and special items, such as baby formula, diapers and wipes. Pack provisions like energy bars, dried fruit and military-style rations that do not require extensive preparation. You may need extra water and heat to prepare dehydrated camping meals. Along with a first-aid kit, you should pack bedding, rain gear and several changes of clothes.
The disaster kit should also contain medications, important family documents like passports, banking information and insurance policies. Pack a hand-cranked or battery-powered radio, so you can stay informed. Remember to include food, water and other items required for your pets and service animals. You should also have an emergency supply of readily available cash denominated in small bills and coins in the event that ATM and point-of-sale terminals are not operating. These items can be stored in plastic storage bins, duffel bags or other suitable containers.
The Florida Department of Health advises that you also consider the mental health of family members during an emergency. Present a truthful picture about the disaster. Explain how you, other family members and the emergency services personnel are handling the situation. Monitor media coverage to ensure that family members are receiving an accurate picture of current events. Encourage open communication to alleviate fear and confusion. It is important to help each other cope with the stress created by the calamity. Although you cannot prevent a natural disaster, you can control your response to the event. A comprehensive plan and checklist as well as pre-stocked supplies will help reduce the potential of anxiety, discomfort and injuries during the emergency.