What is a Hurricane? This is a storm with a sustained wind force of 74 mph or greater. These storms are traced from the time they become a tropical wave until they develop into a hurricane. Hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office offers these safety tips to citizens of Polk County when preparing for a hurricane or other natural disaster:
Do I leave or do I stay? If you leave, have preparations made in advance. Do not wait!!! The roads become a parking lot. For every four (4) times you evacuate, three (3) times will just be a short vacation.
Before you leave your home:
- Turn off:
- Fill freezer with containers of water.
- Have plenty of cash on hand.
- Make sure important papers go with you (keep these in a water tight container or ziploc bag).
- Have an up-to-date inventory of possessions for insurance purposes with descriptions, models, and serial numbers of items. Include purchase price and date (Operation ID). Secure a video tape or take photographs of all possessions and keep in safe deposit box. (Take this along with you when you leave.)
If you stay:
- Know location and routes to Red Cross shelters.
- Secure home and grounds (tape windows, tie down or store yard items, etc.)
- If in a mobile home community, evacuate to shelter immediately whenever a Hurricane Warning or Disaster is declared.
- Turn freezer to lowest setting and fill it with containers of water so it will stay colder longer.
- Keep a two-week supply of non-perishable foods, needing little or no preparation. Don't forget non-electrical can opener and emergency cooking equipment, i.e. grill, Coleman stove (for outside cooking).
- Have at least one (1) gallon of water per person per day.
- Secure important papers; labeled ziploc bags, currency in small denominations only.
- Have emergency cash available. ATM's will not be working.
- Have flashlights and fresh batteries with replacements.
- Have portable battery operated radios and/or televisions.
- Scour bathtub and rinse with household bleach, then with water. Fill the tub with water for use in the toilet.
- Make sure your vehicle is full of fuel.
- Have all medications for a full two weeks; include a first-aid kit.
Be prepared to be completely self-sufficient for at least two weeks.
- If evacuated, delay return until authorized.
- Seek medical help at Red Cross stations or hospitals.
- Do not go into disaster areas.
- Drive, only if necessary.
- Beware of snakes and insects moving to high ground.
- Avoid all structurally damaged buildings.
- Guard against spoiled food.
- Notify insurance agent of damage.
- Make temporary repairs to protect against further damage and looting.
- Beware of unscrupulous opportunities: i.e. price gouging. Polk County has a gouging ordinance. Jail time for price gouging is 6 months and $500.00 for each offense.
- Curfew ordinance starts in any local emergency.
- Do not wire emergency generator directly into house, draw power directly from generator.
Red Cross Shelters:
- Opened as needed in emergency area(s). There are 41 primary shelters in Polk County.
- Bring special foods, i.e. baby food, diabetics food, etc.
- Medicine for 2 weeks.
- Personal items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, books, puzzles, etc.)
- Flashlights, extra batteries.
- Portable radio.
- Food and drink will be provided.
- Items NOT permitted in shelter: guns, alcohol, pets.
- Potential capacity of 40,000-50,000 persons. 102 shelters are available.
Special Needs Program:
- Temporary emergency facility capable of providing medical or nursing care which does not necessitate a hospital.
- Transportation assistance available to: Special needs shelter, public shelter, or nursing home/hospital.
- Pre-registration in the program is preferred by contacting Emergency Management office (863)534-5600.
- You can download the form HERE.
- The three Special Needs Shelters in Polk County are:
- Haines City Adult Daycare Center 751 Scenic Hwy., Haines City
- Lakeland Adult Daycare Center 1200 Southern Ave., Lakeland
- PCHD Specialty Care Units 1255 Brice Blvd., Bartow
- Bring backup oxygen supply and medical/electric equipment and medications (at least 72 hours).
To register for the Special Needs Program or to receive more information, contact the Polk County Emergency Management Division at (863) 534-5600 or Citizen’s Information Line (C.I.L.) at (863) 534-0321 or 1-(866)-661-0228.
Mobile Home Park Emergency Notification System:
- System of notification for all county emergency situations (chemical spills, severe weather, hurricanes, wildfires, etc.)
- Established as backup for radio and television emergency information service.
- Recorded message from Polk County Public Safety Department announcing the emergency and a number to call if evacuation is necessary, and locations of open Red Cross shelters.
- List of three (3) designated people in each community to be contacted by the notification system. There should be a primary contact and two secondary contacts.
- To receive more information, contact the Polk County Emergency Management Division at (863) 534-5600; Citizen’s Information Line (C.I.L.) (863) 534-0321 or 1-(866)-661-0228.
For more information on any of these programs, contact the Crime Prevention at 863-298-6677, during normal business hours.