Hurricane season has arrived and families should start preparing to ensure their safety. The Orange County Health Department is committed to the community’s well-being as it staffs all special needs shelters opened during tropical storms and hurricanes. People with disabilities need to be aware of special needs shelters that may become available and can be utilized by those with no other alternatives and who need transportation assistance to evacuate and/or have a health/medical condition that requires medical attention in a shelter.
In the event of a disaster, your county health department staff stands ready to assist you or your loved ones who may have health or medical conditions and need to be in a special needs shelter. If a storm is approaching, check with your doctor or your pharmacist and make sure you bring 30 days of medication with you for use during and after the disaster.
During this time of year, all Floridians must heighten their awareness and personal responsibility in order to properly prepare for hurricane season. If during planning, an individual with special medical needs determines that they are unable to evacuate the disaster area and must seek shelter from the storm, they should register with the Orange County Special Needs Program as a person with special needs. To register, call 407-836-9319 or visit www.orangecountyfl.net then click on “Family & Community” then “Health & Medical” and click on “Emergency Medical Services.”
Before a disaster remember to:
• Review your family disaster plan, check supplies and expiration dates.
• Have family meetings a couple of times each year to discuss how the family is prepared to remain safe during a disaster.
• Predetermine your shelter in place or evacuate criteria. If you must evacuate, have a predetermined meeting place so that no one goes back into harm’s way to search for someone who is safe.
• Encourage all family members to express their concerns about what might happen and what the plans are to deal with the various situations.
• Stay informed through trusted local and state authorities.
A disaster supply kit for your home or an evacuation plan should include items in six basic areas: (1) water, (2) food, (3) first aid supplies and medications, (4) clothing and bedding, (5) tools and emergency supplies, and (6) important family documents.
You will need a supply kit if you are confined to your home. A supply kit is also valuable if you evacuate to a place other than a well-stocked shelter or if you’re unsure of the shelter’s supplies. For more information on hurricane preparedness and what is suggested for your kit, go to the Orange County Health Department’s website at www.orchd.com
Dain R. Weister is a Public Information Officer at the Orange County Health Department.