September is National Preparedness Month so it’s a good time to reflect upon just how ready you and your loved ones are for a natural disaster. Should severe weather cause an unexpected power outage, be ready. Create a plan and prepare an emergency kit now.
If your household needs to evacuate and seek shelter elsewhere, do all family members know what to do and where you would go? Are they familiar with steps to take in case you become separated from one another? Is there a plan for letting loved ones know you’re safe? Don’t leave these questions unanswered.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management website has tools to assist you with creating a plan. One of the things you should think about lining up in advance is an out-of-town contact that all family members
know to reach should you become separated during an emergency. Family members will need to contact the pre-identified person in an emergency to report their location and that they are safe.
It’s also important to include a meeting location in your family emergency plan. This should be a location away from home for family members to meet in case of a disaster and if your home is inaccessible. Identify a location for your family to meet, preferably one close to your community. Be sure to discuss this location with all family members so that everyone understands where to meet in an emergency.
Protect yourself, your loved ones and your home by rounding up the supplies you’ll need in advance. It’s important to gather all the supplies you may need ahead of time.
Equip your family with a kit that’s easy to use at home or carry along in case you need to evacuate. Be sure
to include things like medicine, medical devices, batteries, a manual can opener, extra blankets, baby and
pet supplies, flashlights or lanterns, and a battery-powered radio. Also make sure to include any important
documents, extra clothing, plenty of food (enough to last at least 7 days) and water (at least 1 gallon per person per day), rain gear and sturdy shoes, cash, and any other special items you might need. It’s also important to consider adding some Covid-19 supplies to your kit to include face masks, disinfectant
wipes, and hand sanitizer. Visit www.floridadisaster.org for a complete list of items you may need.
Also make sure to keep your vehicle tanks filled with gasoline when you know a storm is headed your way. Members who depend on medical devices like oxygen machines or other medical devices should also make sure they have a plan in place and adequate extra supplies and batteries should they experience extended power outages.
Remember that you should also sign up for the Special Needs Registry Shelter Program if you have medical needs. If a person needs help with basic tasks or uses an electronic medical device and has no other evacuation options, they should pre-register for a Special Needs Shelter.
Who is eligible to stay in a special needs shelter?
• People with special medical needs
• People whose care exceeds the basic first aid provided at general population shelters
• People with impairments or disabilities who are medically stable and do not require medical care.
The capabilities of each Special Needs Shelter varies based upon a community’s needs and available resources. Persons with special needs may authorize emergency response personnel to enter their homes during search-and-rescue operations, if necessary, to ensure their safety and welfare following disasters. This statewide registry provides first responders with valuable information to help them prepare for disasters or other emergencies. This registration must be updated annually.
A Special Needs Shelter is a place to go when there is no other sheltering option. Shelters may be
activated during an emergency event to provide mass care for people who cannot safely remain in their homes. Special Needs Shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain an individual’s level of health.
If you or someone you know has a special condition affecting eyesight, hearing, speech, walking, breathing or an emotional condition and would need assistance during evacuations and sheltering, please contact your local emergency management agency.
If you would like to register for the Special Needs Shelter Registry Program, please contact your local emergency management office. All information provided is kept strictly confidential. Their contact numbers and websites are listed below:
Calhoun County: (850) 674-8075 or calhounflorida.org
Holmes County: (850) 547-1112 or holmescountyfla.com
Jackson County: (850) 482-9678 or emergencymanager.org
Washington County: (850) 638-6203 or www.washingtonfl.com
Please keep in mind that completing the Florida Special Needs Registry does not automatically qualify individuals for a special needs shelter. Additional information will be provided by your local emergency
management agency regarding evacuation and sheltering options available.
All 67 counties in the state now utilize a new electronic format for the Special Needs Registry Shelter Program. Contact each agency to find out how to access this electronic form. You can access the registry online at https://snr.floridadisaster.org. You will need to login, create a password and then access the portal. If you have any questions, or do not have internet access, please contact your local emergency management office.
We’re connecting you to readiness so you can protect yourself, your loved ones and your home during outages. As your cooperative, we care about you and your family.