As we head into the 2015 hurricane season, it’s not too early to make preparations … just in case. Southeast Florida has not experienced the effects of a serious tropical weather system in 10 years, and some reminders may be in order.
There are numerous preparedness and information resources available, including websites and smartphone apps.
Some you may find helpful include:
- Palm Beach County Emergency Management: www.pbcgov.com/dem/knowurzone
- Palm Beach County Evacuation Zones: http://www.pbcgov.com/dem/evacuate/
- Palm Beach County Special Needs Shelter: www.pbcgov.com/dem/sections/logistics/scu.htm
- Generators in PBC (gas stations, Home Depot, Lowe's, Publix): http://www.pbcgov.com/dem/hurricane/
- National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov/
- NOAA Extreme Weather Information: http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/activities/weather-ready-nation/newis/
- Pet Friendly Shelters by County: www.floridapetfriendly.com/pet-friendly-hurricane-shelters.htm
Also, a refresher on the National Hurricane Center definitions of storm watches and warnings and what actions to take is in order.
Understanding the difference between National Weather Service watches and warnings is critical to being prepared for any dangerous weather hazard, including hurricanes.
A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It literally means “be on guard!”
During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action: Monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.
A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent: It is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) or it is about to occur at any moment.
During a weather warning, it is important to take action: Grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately.
Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.
Tropical storm watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions are possible within the specified area.
Hurricane watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions are possible within the specified area.
Because outside preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
During a watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued. Listen closely to instructions from local officials.
Tropical storm warning: An announcement that tropical-storm conditions are expected within the specified area.
Hurricane warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions are expected within the specified area.
Because outside preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
During a warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
Extreme wind warning: Extreme sustained winds of a major hurricane (115 mph or greater), usually associated with the eyewall, are expected to begin within an hour. Take shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.
— Compiled by Kathleen Bell
Helpful phone numbers:
Palm Beach County Emergency Management: 712-6400
Traffic updates: 511
Palm Beach County Sheriff: 688-3000
South Palm Beach Police: 586-2122
Lantana Police: 540-5700
Manalapan Police: 585-4030
Hypoluxo Police: 540-5701
Boynton Beach Police: 732-8116
Ocean Ridge/Briny Breezes Police: 732-8331
Gulf Stream Police: 278-8611
Delray Beach Police: 243-7800
Highland Beach Police: 688-3400
Boca Raton Police: 338-1234
Most preparations fit into three categories: people, pets, and property. A few suggested items to keep on hand and items to check include:
- Bottled water and nonperishable food
- Prescriptions and personal hygiene supplies
- First aid kit
- Personal identification, insurance cards
- List of medications, doctors, emergency contacts
- Flashlights, batteries, solar lights
- Identify shelter in case an evacuation order is issued.
- Bottled water and food
- Waste bags and litter
- Leashes, carriers, crates
- Favorite toys, blankets
- Identify shelter or boarding in case an evacuation order is issued.
- Important documents and irreplaceable items
- Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and chargers
- Back up computer records to flash drive or external hard drive
- Inspect, test, repair shutters
- Inspect and test generator
- Home and auto insurance policy and contact information