Preparing for hurricane season

With the start of hurricane season approaching on June 1, Washington County Emergency Management is proud to promote hurricane preparedness in Washington County. Washington County Emergency Management is committed to ensure residents know their risks, get prepared, and stay informed.

Each year, we witness the devastating impacts that hurricanes can cause. Hurricanes are not just a threat to coastal communities. High winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, and flooding can be felt hundreds of miles inland, potentially causing loss of life and catastrophic damage to property. As Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac reminded us, it is not just major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) that we need to prepare for, but all hurricanes have the ability to cause significant damage.

We are committed to ensuring the safety of Washington County and we’re calling on you to prepare with us. Knowing your risks, getting prepared, and staying informed are just a few steps you can take to get ready for hurricane season.

Know Your Risks: Check out NOAA’s historical hurricane tracks tool at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/.

Get Prepared: Take action now to be prepared for hurricane season. Make sure you have family evacuation and communications plans, update your emergency supply kit, and evaluate your flood insurance needs.

Know your evacuation route. Evacuations are more common than people realize. Make yourself familiar with your community’s evacuation route so you’ll know exactly where to go. Remember: if a hurricane threatens your community and local officials say it’s time to evacuate, don’t hesitate – go early. Public Shelters are “last resort” options and do not offer the comfort or convenience of a hotel or the home of a friend or family member.

Complete a family communication plan. Plan how you will assemble your family and loved ones, and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Talk with your family and agree on the ways to contact one another in an emergency, identify meeting locations, and make a Family Emergency Communication Plan. This website will help walk you through those steps: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/108887

Download the FEMA app. The FEMA App includes disaster resources, weather alerts, safety tips, and a new feature that will enable users to receive push notifications to their devices to prepare their homes and families for disasters. The app also provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, tips on how to survive disasters, and alerts from the National Weather Service.

Check your insurance coverage. Many states have increased deductibles for hurricanes and not all hurricane-related losses are covered under traditional policies. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding. Review your policy, ensure you are adequately covered and understand exclusions, and contact your agent for any changes. If you’re not insured against flood, talk to your agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Renter’s insurance policies are also available and should be considered as a way of protecting your belongings.

Stay Informed: Know where to go for trusted sources of information during a hurricane event. Sign up for alerts from AlertWashington for resident specific notifications that go directly to your phone and email. Monitor local news for hurricane watches and warnings in your area and follow directions of local officials. Make sure you have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio available should the power go out.

Emergency Supply Kit Supplies List:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist Towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Personal hygiene items

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Non-Electric can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional information is available at www.ready.gov/hurricanes and www.washingtonfl.com under the “Department” tab, click on Emergency Management.