With hurricane season fast approaching, now is the time for Central Floridians to ensure that families are prepared in the event of storm. Although it has been more than a decade since the last major hurricane hit Central Florida, residents should never be complacent when it comes to preparedness.
In order to prepare, Orange County is hosting its free Hurricane Expo on June 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Renaissance Senior Center at South Econ Community Park. The address is 3800 South Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando. This year’s theme is “Review, Reboot, Be Ready!”
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, so it’s important to have information and to plan ahead for potential storms. For new Florida residents who have never experienced a hurricane, it’s time to acclimate yourself to the type of severe weather that might occur.
“Our job is to make sure everyone is ready, and that includes both residents and the various agencies we work with that provide the logistical support needed during disaster situations,” said Ron Plummer, manager of Orange County’s Office of Emergency Management. “For residents, the key is to plan ahead and be prepared for if and when a hurricane hits – so that’s why this Hurricane Expo is so important.”
Proper preparation starts several weeks before the beginning of hurricane season. The first step is preparing a disaster kit. The kit will prove useful whether or not you’re forced to evacuate or if you stay in your home but are still affected by the loss of power. If you prepare your kit ahead of time, you can alleviate a lot of the potential stress associated with an approaching storm. Some recommended items to include are:
- Non-perishable food (enough to last at least three days)
- Water (enough to last at least three days)
- First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
- Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
- Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
- Battery-operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
- Waterproof container with cash and important documents
- Manual can opener
- Lighter or matches
- Books, magazines, games for recreation
- Special needs items including pet supplies and baby supplies
- Cooler and ice packs
- A plan for evacuation and a plan should family members be separated
The Orange County Office of Emergency Management works on evacuation contingencies and also identifies vulnerable communities, including manufactured homes and flood-prone areas that may need to be evacuated.
How to Stay Informed
Orange County employs several methods of communicating important information to you before, during and after hurricanes and other emergencies. Various communications tools are available, including television, radio, cell phones/smart phones, email and dedicated radio receivers.
For disaster information throughout the hurricane season, you can access Orange County information on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OrangeCountyFlorida and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OrangeCoFL.
Orange County’s mobile apps provide tips and alerts to help get you into hurricane safety mode. You can download the following apps at www.ocfl.net/apps.
- OCFL Alert is a first-of-its-kind emergency notification and information smartphone app that provides critical information during times of emergency. Life-saving information includes open shelter locations, water and ice distribution centers, evacuation routes, public service announcements and much more. (Android | Apple)
- OCFL 311 is a smartphone app that allows users to photograph, pinpoint and report any problem you may encounter before, during or after the storm. All of this can be done directly from your smartphone to Orange County’s 311 Service Center. (Android | Apple)
- OCFL News is Orange County’s latest smartphone app and it’s the first of its kind. The free mobile app provides citizens with breaking news and information about their government. Orange County is the first government organization in Florida to offer citizens breaking news and information about their government on their mobile devices. (Android | Apple)
- American Red Cross Emergency App monitors conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, allowing you to prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe even if the power is out.
For more information about Orange County’s Hurricane Expo, call 407-836-9140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Citizens may also visit www.ocfl.net/hurricaneguide.