With the start of this year’s hurricane season, residents are encouraged to stock up on emergency preparedness supplies. June 1-7 is the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, and qualifying items related to disaster preparedness are exempt from sales tax. Eligible items include reusable ice packs, batteries, flashlights, radios, bungee cords and tarps. A complete list of tax-free items can be found at www.floridarevenue.com/disasterprep.
“Every family should create a disaster plan and start stocking their disaster supply kits,” said Jim Judge, Volusia County’s emergency management director. “After a disaster, emergency workers may not be able to reach everyone right away. A disaster plan will help to prepare your family for these difficult times.”
For help creating a personalized family disaster plan, visit www.floridadisaster.org, www.RedCross.org or www.Ready.gov.
According to Judge, your disaster supply kit should include a two-week supply of medications and enough drinking water and nonperishable food to last five to seven days. For a list of other items you should include in your disaster supply kit, visit www.volusia.org/emergency.
Families should discuss their plan as a group so everyone understands what to do and where to go in the event of a disaster, he added. It is also important to know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Tips include:
• Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.
• Establish an out of state contact you can reach out to after a disaster to let them know that you're OK. This person can then let others know you are okay.
• Bookmark the American Red Cross Safe and Well website at https://safeandwell.communityos.org. After a disaster you can use this tool to let your family and friends know you are safe.
Emergency preparedness app
To help residents prepare, the county has an emergency preparedness app, which includes:
• Weather alerts and current conditions, preparedness checklists, links to county sites, shelter status, locations of the nearest open shelter and sandbags, evacuation information, push notifications and more.
• A "where am I" location indicator that can be sent to contacts loaded into the app, and the capability to let family and friends know if you are “okay” or “need help.”
The app also aids in the damage assessment process as residents can submit damage reports along with picture documentation. The Volusia County emergency preparedness app is available for download in the Google Play store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details… and the App Store at https://appsto.re/us/MBOYib.i
Evacuations and sheltering
Residents should decide in the planning stages where they will stay if an evacuation order is issued. Most people find it more comfortable to stay with friends or relatives who live well inland. For those who have no alternatives, hurricane shelters will be available at key locations across the county. Additionally, as part of evacuation planning, residents should determine if they would seek shelter at a general population or pet-friendly shelter, or if they need assistance at a Special Needs Shelter or will need to seek shelter at a medical facility that can manage their medical needs.
For residents with special needs and need sheltering
Special needs individuals are those with health or medical conditions who meet the Volusia County Special Needs program criteria. Volusia County Emergency Management recommends using this program only as a last resort, and individuals with special needs should consider sheltering with relatives or friends prior to the use of a shelter. If other alternatives are not available, individuals electing to use a Special Needs Shelter should bring bedding, medicine, medical supplies, and food supplies for each person to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
Special Needs Shelters are not for people who need 24-hour dedicated care, a hospital bed, ventilator, other complex care or for isolation patients. These individuals should discuss other shelter arrangements with their physician or home health service provider or caregiver. For more information or to register, visit www.volusia.org/emergency and click on “Before a disaster” in the left-side menu.
For more information about disaster preparedness, call Volusia County Emergency Management at (386) 254-1500 or visitwww.volusia.org/emergency. Residents should also follow Volusia County Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter.