Health departments encourage residents to develop storm disaster plans

Special to Gannett

FORT WALTON BEACH — With hurricane season officially starting June 1, Northwest Florida county health departments encourage everyone to prepare for severe weather emergencies now.

Northwest Florida county health departments include those serving Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington counties.

A hurricane is viewed from space.

Get A Plan

The best way to cope with a disaster is to have a plan.

Following an emergency or disaster, you may lose access to basic services, such as power and water, and be subject to limited or no access to basic needs, like food and medications.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management provides an interactive online tool, Get a Plan!, to help families and businesses stay prepared. This useful tool allows you to answer a series of questions and create a plan customized for you.

Make a Kit

As we watch for upcoming storms, think about what you might need to keep on hand in order to be prepared, such as water, food, cooking supplies, flashlights, radios, blankets, clothes, first aid kit, prescription medicine, toiletries, etc..

The Florida Division of Emergency Management recommends that you have enough supplies to last you and your family for a minimum of seven days. Each individual or family disaster supply kit differs, based on personal needs.

For more information, visit www.floridadisaster.org/planprepare/hurricane-supply-checklist/. Documents like insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc., should be stored in a secure location not prone to flooding.

Plan for infants, elderly and individuals with access and functional needs. 

The Florida Division of Emergency Management maintains a list of open shelters on their website. If you have a disability or a special need, such as a medical condition, it’s vital that you register with your local emergency management office.

All emergency management offices maintain a list of people within the community who have disabilities or special needs so they can be assisted quickly during an emergency.

If you are eligible for a Special Needs Shelter, your kit should include the following: a list of medications and dosage, a 30-day supply of medications, vital medical equipment for those who may be electrically or oxygen dependent, backup energy sources for essential medical equipment, any special dietary needs or food, as well as personal information, including photo ID, insurance card, emergency contacts, and your primary care providers contact information.

And if you have pets, be sure that the shelter has a place for them and their supplies.

Stay Connected

During severe weather and other emergencies, stay connected to local radio, television and social media outlets.