Before the Storm
Preparing in advance for hurricane season can determine not only how safely and comfortably you ride out the storm, but also how easily it is to handle the days and weeks after the storm has passed. Take a look at the information collected below to learn how you can prepare in the days and weeks before a hurricane.
• Distribution Locations
• About Sand Bags
The use of sandbags is a simple, but effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage. Properly filled and placed sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around, instead of through, buildings. Sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, but is satisfactory for use in most situations.
Sandbags alone should not be relied on to keep water outside a building. Use baffle boards (plywood sheeting) or sheets of plastic tarp with sandbags. To form a sandbag wall, place bags tightly against one another to form the first layer of defense. Stagger the second and subsequent layers of bags, much like the pattern of bricks in a wall.
Sandbags, when properly filled and placed, will redirect storm and debris flows away from property improvements.
The most important part of your hurricane plan is a Hurricane Kit, that includes the basic life support you will need after a disaster. Prepare to be self sufficient for at least 3 days to two weeks.
• What do I need?
- Food/Water *
- Bottled water ( 1 gallon per day per person) for 14 days*
- Manual can opener*
- Non-perishable foods:*
- Canned meat, fish, fruit and vegetables
- Bread in moisture proof packaging
- Cookies, candy, dried fruit
- Canned soups, & milk
- Powdered or single serve drinks
- Cereal bars
- Package condiments
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Instant coffee & tea
- Flashlight (1 per person) *
- Portable battery powered lanterns
- Glass enclosed candles
- Battery powered radio or TV
- Battery operated alarm clock
- Extra batteries, including hearing aids
- Ice chest and ice
- First Aid Kit-including aspirin, antibiotic cream, and antacids
- Mosquito repellent
- Sun screen (45 SPF recommended)
- Waterproof matches/butane lighter
- Plain bleach or water purification tablets
- Disposable plates, glasses, and Utensils
- Maps of the area with landmarks on it
- Cooking :
- Portable camp stove or grill
- Stove fuel or charcoal, lighter fluid
- Disposable eating utensils, plates & cups
- Napkins & paper towels
- Aluminum foil
- Oven mitts
- Personal Supplies:
- Prescriptions ( 1month supply)*
- Photo copies of prescriptions*
- Toilet paper
- Entertainment: books, magazines, card games etc*
- Soap and detergent
- Bedding: pillows, sleeping bag*
- Clothing for a few days*
- Rain ponchos, and work gloves
- Extra glasses or contact lenses
- Disposable diapers*
- Formula, food and medication*
- Photo copies of prescriptions
- Photo identification*
- Proof of occupancy of residence (utility bills)
- Medical history or information
- Waterproof container for document storage
- Back-up disks of your home computer files
- Camera & film
- Pet Supplies:
- Dry & canned food for two weeks
- Water (1/2 gallon per day)
- Litter box supplies
- Traveling Cage
- Other Necessities:
- Tools: hammer, wrenches, screw drivers, nails, saw
- Trash bags (lots of them)
- Cleaning supplies
- Plastic drop cloth
- Mosquito netting
- ABC rated fire extinguisher
- Masking or duct tape
- Outdoor extension cords
- Spray paint to identify your home if necessary
- One of your home phones (many people lost theirs during Andrew, even though their phone service still worked)
* If you are planning to evacuate be sure to at least take these items.
After the Storm
The weeks after a hurricane are often more complicated and dangerous than the storm itself. Below we have put together a list of information and resources designed to help you manage during the recovery period after a storm.
As a tropical storm or hurricane impacts the state, a large amount of rainfall is expected. It is important to be prepared for issues related to flooding.
• Moving Flood Water
• Pooling Flood Water
Heavy rain causes flood waters to rise and pool on streets and throughout neighborhoods. In these situations, be aware of the following:
- Road surfaces become obscured, and drivers can unknowingly steer into a deep body of water, such as a canal or pond.
- Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be active through standing water, causing a deadly shock to anyone coming in contact with it.
- Children playing in contaminated standing water can become sick or be bitten by snakes or floating insects.
- People coming into contact with floodwaters should thoroughly rinse any exposed body parts with soap and sanitized or disinfected water.
• Contaminated Water Supply
Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. You cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected area is safe to drink. Listen to local announcements on safety of the water supply.
If your public water system lost pressure, a boil water notice will likely be issued for your area.
People in these areas should take precautions to avoid contaminated water, especially individuals with private wells. If your well is in a flooded area, your water may contain disease-causing organisms and may not be safe to drink.
DOH recommends one of the following:
- Boil water for at least one minute before using it for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.;
- Disinfect water by adding 8 drops about 1/8 tsp – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime of unscented household bleach per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure. Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking as this will prevent contamination.
- Use only bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.
After the flooding subsides:
- Disinfect your well using the procedures available from your local health department, or provided on the Department of Health Web site at http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/private-well-testing/index.html; and
- Have your water tested by your local health department or by a laboratory certified by the State to perform a drinking water analysis.
• Contaminated Food
Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with floodwaters. Discard any food without a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with floodwaters. Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels thoroughly, wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of unscented household bleach per gallon of water for clean surfaces. Re-label your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker. Food containers with screw-caps, snap lids and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come in contact with floodwaters because they cannot be disinfected.
• Contaminated Items
Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There is no way to safely clean them if they have come in contact with contaminated floodwaters. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with soap and hot water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
Basic hygiene is very important during natural disaster. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected and cooled. Hands should be washed before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after handling uncooked food, after playing with a pet, after handling garbage, after tending to someone who is sick or injured, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after participating in flood cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.
• Food Safety: Preventing Food-Borne Diseases
- The Department of Health advises that individuals should not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges.
- Commercially prepared cans of food should not be eaten if there is a bulging or opening on the can or the screw caps, soda pop bottle tops or twist-caps.
- Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels and then disinfect the cans in a bleach solution. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water; re-label the cans including expiration date and type of food. Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.
- Infants should be fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Use boiled water when preparing formula.
- Frozen and refrigerated foods can be unsafe after a hurricane. When the power is out, refrigerators will keep foods cool for only about four hours. Thawed and refrigerated foods should be thrown out after four hours.
• Sanitation and Hygiene: Preventing Waterborne Illness
- Basic hygiene is very important during this emergency period. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before eating, after toilet use, after participating in cleanup activities and after handling articles contaminated by floodwater or sewage.
- Flooding that occurs after the hurricane may mean that water contains fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water. Apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. If a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage, see a physician.
- Do not allow children to play in floodwater. They can be exposed to water contaminated with fecal matter. Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.
• Power Outages: Preventing Fire Hazards
- Using battery-powered lanterns and flashlights is preferable to using candles.
- If you must use candles, make sure you put them in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items.
• Preventing Mosquito-Borne Illness: Clearing Standing Water
- Heavy rains and flooding can lead to an increase in mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are most active at sunrise and sunset. Public health authorities will be working actively to control the spread of any diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
- To protect against mosquitoes, DOH urges the public to remain diligent in their personal mosquito protection efforts. These should include the “5 D’s” for prevention:
- Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood. For many species, this is during the dusk and dawn hours.
- Dress – Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
- DEET – When the potential exists for exposure to mosquitoes, repellents containing DEET N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide are recommended. Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are other repellent options.
- Drainage – Check around your home to rid the area of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
• Insect Repellent Use
- Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent to skin. Some repellants are not suitable for children.
- Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are other repellent options. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
- In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
- Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when mosquitoes are present.
- Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
- If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
• Eliminating Mosquito Breeding Sites
- Elimination of breeding sites is one of the keys to prevention.
- Clean out eaves, troughs and gutters.
- Remove old tires or drill holes in those used in playgrounds to drain.
- Turn over or remove empty plastic pots.
- Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
- Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water.
- Pump out bilges on boats.
- Replace water in birdbaths and pet or other animal feeding dishes at least once a week.
- Change water in plant trays, including hanging plants, at least once a week.
- Remove vegetation or blockages in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.