Submitted by Michelle Spreadbury, Executive Assistant to Chief Deputy Jeffrey Harrington, Pasco Sheriff’s Office
Hurricane season is officially here. Although the county has focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to prepare for other disasters. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office encourages citizens to plan ahead for hurricane season. Preparing today can save lives and protect your property during a storm.
A crucial first step is to make sure you have a hurricane supply kit. Your kit should include water, non-perishable food, batteries, toiletries, first-aid supplies, medications, cash and fuel. It is important to remember pet supplies, as well. It is recommended to stock enough food and water to last three days per person.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office suggests obtaining sandbags in advance to prepare your home for hurricanes. Waiting until the storm is here can mean that supplies might be low in stock. If you don’t have storm shutters, consider purchasing plywood to fabricate shutters for your windows. Ensure outdoor items are properly secured or stowed away when a storm is in the forecast. Keeping trees trimmed and disposing of fallen limbs and other yard debris is a good idea before and during hurricane season. Debris and outdoor furniture can become projectiles during a storm, so it is important to secure these items before a storm arrives. It is also important to properly clean your gutters as part of hurricane preparations.
If an evacuation order is issued for your area, please follow it. If you plan to evacuate, keep in mind that community shelters may be limited on space and should only be used as a last resort. Before evacuating make sure to have copies of important papers, including your driver’s license and insurance policies. Let friends and family know where you are going and remember to lock your windows and doors before leaving.
If you choose to shelter in place, plan ahead. Designate a safe room, such as a windowless closet or bathroom on the lower floor of your home. Fill containers with water, to give yourself an alternative in case water sources become contaminated during the storm. Additionally, if flooding occurs in your home, turn the power off at the main breaker to prevent further damage and harm. In the event of a power loss, it’s critical to know what medical equipment will become unusable and make a plan for its absence.
Although most dangers from a hurricane are apparent, such as wind damage or storm surge, there are additional risks that are less apparent. For example, drive carefully and avoid flooded roads.
Staying informed during a storm will help you and your family stay safe. The National Hurricane Center forecasts are an accurate source of information along with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Facebook and Twitter accounts. Bear in mind that the areas effected will extend beyond the center of the storm. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office is here for our community, and we encourage citizens to prepare well in advance for hurricane season.