December 2018

Important phone numbers and websites

Pinellas County Emergency Management: (727) 464-3800 | www.pinellascounty.org/emergency

Find your evacuation level: (727) 453-3150 | www.pinellascounty.org/knowyourzone

Special Needs Registration: (727) 464-3800 | www.pinellascounty.org/forms/evac-assist.htm

Follow Pinellas County Emergency Management on Twitter | twitter.com/PinellasEM

Download the new Ready Pinellas app | www.pinellascounty.org/readypinellas

Sign up for Pinellas County's Emergency Notification Service Alert Pinellas | www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas

Set your Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) equipped all-hazards alert radio for Pinellas County: Enter code 012103

If you know someone who would like to receive the e-Lert newsletter, have them visit www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/subscribe.htm

 

Pinellas County Emergency Management Director Cathie PerkinsFrom the Desk of Pinellas County Emergency Management Director Cathie Perkins

November 30 marked the official end of hurricane season

Though locally we were not directly impacted, this was a devastating year for the communities struck by wildfires and Hurricanes Florence and Michael. They are facing the difficult task of long-term recovery, but the response from around the country has been incredible.

It is the partnership of our agencies that assist with activities to relieve the impacts on areas hit by disaster that makes Emergency Management such an incredible department to work for. Pinellas County Emergency Management sent its own team to Bay County both prior to and after Hurricane Michael’s landfall to help them through the storm and in the initial aftermath.  With power and communications going out during the storm, it’s challenging to stay aware of all aspects of the situation. Our staff helped with crucial coordination at the Emergency Operations Center. Teams from other departments also traveled to help with security, fire protection, search and rescue, EMS, sheltering, utility restoration and animal services. 

As was witnessed by these two storms, you can clearly see that no two hurricanes are the same. Hurricane Florence’s Sept. 14 landfall in North Carolina caused massive flooding. Then, on Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael’s storm surge of over 15 feet and its 155 mph winds damaged everything in its path.  It is so important that as a community we remain prepared and informed.  If you have not already done so, we encourage you to sign up for Alert Pinellas  so you can receive notifications on your phone to keep you informed.  

We are already studying the lessons of these two storms to learn how we can better prepare and protect Pinellas County. I have had the fortunate pleasure to join the Pinellas County Emergency Management team as the new director, and I look forward to sharing these lessons with our residents and our businesses in the coming months. We will build upon the strengths of this community to make us better prepared for our future.

We wish you all a very happy and safe holiday season.

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365 days

Preparedness is a year-round activity, and now with the cooler weather arriving, it is the perfect time to work on larger house projects that will make your homes and businesses more storm ready. There is a host of information online to help guide you as you make your home more resilient against wind and water.

We also want to remind you that all-hazard preparedness is a year-round effort. It is important to keep your home stocked with the basic emergency supplies at all times. Because tornadoes are common in the winter months, make sure that you and your family identify your “safe room” and keep your emergency weather radio on to warn you of sudden severe weather.

In addition to using a weather radio and Alert Pinellas, there are many weather alert apps that you can download free on your mobile device.

Dismantling your hurricane kit

With Nov. 30 marking the end of hurricane season, check the expiration dates on items in your emergency supply kit.

In the spirit of the season, why not donate your canned goods to a local food pantry? You can do a quick search online for suggestions. Just remember to donate to reputable organizations.

You may also want to put those batteries to good use at holiday time. You’ll want to have new ones in your hurricane kit next year.

Gift ideas?

No kidding, hurricane preparedness items make good holiday gifts! Radios are always a big hit, and emergency weather radios can get pretty fancy, from solar and hand-cranked, to two-way and handheld. Most of the styles are reasonably priced as well.

Say “I care” with a gift of safety, like a fire or carbon monoxide detector. A fireproof lockbox is a great gift. Or think about preparedness gifts that can double as camping accessories, like flashlights, lanterns and grills.

Be creative (and don’t forget the batteries).

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Be safe this holiday season

It doesn’t take a hurricane for calamity to strike, especially during the busy holiday season. With a little prevention, the holidays can remain merry and bright.

house fire

  • COOKING: Fires from cooking are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The leading cause is unattended cooking. This solution is an easy one: Never leave your cooking unattended. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the stovetop. And remember, never use water to extinguish a grease fire. When in doubt, get out and call 9-1-1.
  • SPACE HEATERS: One out of every four Christmas tree fires is caused by a heat source. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the U.S. In Pinellas County, electric heaters are more than a convenience. They are often the only source of heat in homes. If you use a heater, be safe: plug it directly into the wall, place it on a flat surface, keep it at least three feet away from anything that can burn, never leave it unattended and always unplug and safely store the heater when not in use.
  • TREE FIRES: According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one out of every four home holiday tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Follow manufacturer guidelines for the safe use of lights and limit the strings of lights on your tree or your home.
  • CANDLES: The top three days for fires caused by home candles are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Candles start two out of five home structure fires. Try optional lighting like battery operated candles. If you must light a candle, make sure nothing is near it, never leave it unattended and extinguish it when leaving the room or before going to sleep.

Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and remember to test them once a month.

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