April 10, 2021 – Hurricane Safety Checklist
Please see this Hurricane Safety Checklist so you will be prepared for the 2021 hurricane season.
Preparing for hurricane season now
Last year’s Hurricane Irma refreshed our memories of how devastating these storms can be! While our area sustained major damage and inconvenience, we were lucky compared to our neighbors to the south.
Remember, it is everybody’s responsibility to be prepared in case a storm hits. Government alone cannot begin to handle all of the adverse impacts. It is also important to have an evacuation plan in place and make sure your homes are secure. Emergency officials advise that residents should be prepared to survive on their own for at least 72 hours. Supplies sell out fast once a storm has been forecasted, so it is important to do what you can now.
Some questions to consider:
· Do you depend on electric medical devices or oxygen to stay well? If you plan to go to a Special Needs Shelter, you must preregister.
· Do you have enough canned goods and bottled water stocked? See Checklist on all recommended supplies and other tips.
· Do you know the location of your closest shelter, gas station and/or grocery store with an emergency generator?
· Do you have a plan for your Pet? The county operates a pet shelter, but you are required to register in advance.
· Do you live in a Mandatory Evauation Zone?
Don’t wait until a hurricane is bearing down to make these important decisions. If you have questions, or need us to mail you information, please call my office at 561-355-2204 or Palm Beach County Emergency Management at 561-712-6400. Also, in addition to the links provided above, there much more helpful information on county’s Emergency Management’s Website website.
Sign up for new alert system
Users will be alerted to various weather hazards such as tornadoes, floods, tropical storms or severe weather alerts.
In addition, alerts are also issued concerning public safety issues such as law enforcement activity, missing persons, and significant road closures.
We encourage all Palm Beach County residents to register themselves and their families to receive up-to-date emergency notifications. To receive up-to-date emergency information, register for AlertPBC at www.alertpbc.com.
Important emergency social media and apps
In addition, there is a free emergency app, PBC DART, which will provide you with vital information such as your storm surge evacuation areas, flood zones, shelter locations, grocery and building supply stores with emergency generators, and gas stations that remain open.
PBC Dart also lets individuals and businesses send damage reports, in real time, to the Emergency Operations Center, which will enable emergency workers to access and respond to areas needing attention during and after a storm.
While the new technology is terrific and great advances are being made, there are still some basic tips:
Get cash early: it will be extremely helpful when the ATM screens are dark and swiping a credit card doesn’t work during an outage.
Gas for the car: fill up as far in advance as reasonably possible.
Offsite data backups for important records, family photos, and other irreplaceable files that are stored on your laptop, desktop, or mobile device. A hurricane or other weather disasters can destroy computer equipment. It is highly recommended that you store backup disk(s) at a different location, such as a safety deposit box. Another option is online backup services to which you upload your data.
Solar-powered USB chargers: No electricity or battery needed – just some sunshine!
County updates storm plans with lessons from Irma
Last year, the county took over the responsibility for staffing and managing the shelters from the Red Cross. This was no small undertaking! Consequently, thousands of county employees were tasked with working at the shelters.
For Hurricane Irma, the county opened 13 emergency shelters including one pet-friendly shelter and two special needs shelters. Nearly 17,000 people including 545 special-needs clients and more than 300 animals were safely sheltered. It was the first time in recent history that the western communities were evacuated due to the potential storm-related hazards near Lake Okeechobee.
In addition to county employees and Red Cross volunteers, each public school shelter is managed by the school’s principal, with guidance from the county’s emergency operations staff. Along with the principal, the school district staffs each shelter with two to three dozen employees, including police officers, cafeteria workers, janitors and facility experts. All non-school shelters also have a local law enforcement presence.
The special needs and pet-friendly shelters exceeded capacity for Hurricane Irma. Consequently, the county is in the process of obtaining more hurricane-hardened space.
Emergency managers also provided training for staff assigned to work during these emergencies. After feedback from shelter workers, significant changes have been made including wristband identification bracelets for shelter clients, enhanced security strategies, internal radio communication and more televisions.
Also, if you plan on going to a shelter, you must bring your own supplies such as bedding, blankets, inflatable mattresses, water, medicine, baby food and/or formula, water, and toiletries. Shelters provide simple meals and beverages; if you have special dietary needs or want snacks, you must bring your own. For more information on shelter supplies, visit http://discover.pbcgovorg/publicsafety/dem/Pages/Shelters.aspx.