November 2016

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/emergency/knowyourzone.htm

Register for special needs transportation: (727) 464-3800 | www.pinellascounty.org/forms/evac-assist.htm

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

Sign up for Pinellas County's Emergency Notification Service Alert Pinellas: (866) 484-3264 | 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

 

Sally Says

Sally Bishop photoFrom the Desk of Pinellas County's Emergency Management Director

As Hurricane Season comes to a close at the end of this month, it’s a good time to think about what long-term steps you can take to prepare your family and your home for tropical weather. The cooler fall and winter months are a great time to tackle home improvement projects that can make your property more resilient to violent storms. With the threat of hurricane season six months away, take inventory of your home’s risks and your emergency supplies. Take a closer look at your insurance policies to make sure you have enough coverage to recover from a storm. This last edition of E-Lert for 2016 will outline steps you can take in the coming months to get ready. Hurricanes and severe weather are a fact of life, especially in coastal Florida, and it’s important to take that into account as you plan for the future.

What can do you to prepare your home? If you are budgeting for home repairs this winter, consider upgrading your old roof or replace your windows and garage door with new ones built for higher winds. Some of these investments may be costly up front, but they could save you substantial money on your insurance premiums. Below you’ll find more detailed information on these improvements and other steps you can take to protect your home from the risk of floods.

Check your insurance policy and make sure you understand your deductibles, coverage amounts and whether or not you need flood insurance. Review your emergency supply kit. Do you need to refresh your water supply or replace any food items? See the BUILD section of our All-Hazard Guide for a full list.

Publication of E-Lert will resume with the beginning of the 2017 Hurricane Season in June. Take the time to prepare in these next months to ensure your family is ready for any storms that may be ahead.

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PREPARE YOUR HOME

Here are some basic home improvements you can make to ensure your home is storm ready by the summertime:

PROTECT YOUR WINDOWS

Your best option is to install impact resistant windows or hurricane shutters. Otherwise, be ready to cover your windows with commercial exterior plywood – 7/16” minimum – when a storm is approaching. Duct tape provides NO protection.

BRACE YOUR GABLE ROOF 

Gabled roofs – two slopes that come together to a peak at the top – are prone to failure if not properly braced in construction. High winds could cause your end wall to collapse. See the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Retrofit Guide for advice: www.floridadisaster.org/hrg.

BRACE YOUR GARAGE DOOR

Old garage doors in good condition can be braced with retrofit kits while new doors must meet stringent wind requirements. After Hurricane Andrew, engineers determined four out of five homes that suffered major structural damage lost their garage door first.

PREPARE YOUR YARD

Rock mulch, sagging tree limbs and yard furniture are among the objects that could become deadly missiles in high winds. Keep your trees pruned and clean out your gutters on a regular basis.

FLOOD MITIGATION

  1. Raise or elevate equipment: water heater, AC, switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring.
  2. Build with flood-resistant materials, such as cement board and marine grade wood.
  3. Use flood-proofing techniques, such as flood shields for doors and waterproof exterior coating.
  4. Add flood vents, which can reduce flood insurance costs for certain homes.
  5. Install sewer backflow valves.
  6. Clear storm drains to prevent blockages that can cause localized flooding.
  7. Elevate your home.
  8. Keep up with routine maintenance: cleaning out gutters and sealing cracks.
  9. Be aware of the substantial improvement rules:
    1. Houses substantially damaged by any cause must be elevated above the regulatory flood level when repaired.
    2. Remodeling projects that cost half the value of the original structure will require the building to be elevated above flood level.

For more information, visit our flood information page

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Preparedness Spotlight:
Understanding Insurance  

Not all insurance policies are created equal. Check your policy or talk to your agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage and to determine if any home improvements would qualify for a discount on premiums. Detailed information on insurance policies can be found through the Insurance Information Institute at www.iii.org.

Start by asking these 5 Questions:

  1. What is my standard deductible?
  2. What is my hurricane deductible?
  3. Do I need flood insurance?
  4. Do I have enough coverage to replace my home and belongings?
  5. Do I have loss-of-use coverage for temporary housing expenses?

Do I need flood insurance?

Homeowner Insurance policies DO NOT cover damage from rising flood waters. If you own a home in a flood zone, your mortgage company will require you to carry a separate flood policy. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, consider the additional coverage.

Fast Facts:

  1. 20 percent of claims are from outside high hazard areas.
  2. There is a 1-in-4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage in high hazard areas.
  3. Condo association policies do not cover personal property or building elements wholly owned by the unit owner.
  4. There is a 30-day waiting period for a flood insurance policy.

Ways to Save:

  1. Check your policy for your CRS discount (Up to 25 percent in unincorporated Pinellas County).
  2. Get an Elevation Certificate for an accurate rating.
  3. Mitigate your property to reduce your premium.

Federal Assistance

If you receive federal assistance after a flood event, you will be required to carry flood insurance afterward. If your property is damaged again by a flood and you did not maintain the policy, you will not be eligible for more assistance.

For more information, visit our flood insurance webpage.

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Special Section – Getting prepared for the holidays

Santa is not the only one with a list to check twice. All residents of Pinellas County should have a list, which they check more than twice throughout the year: items they will need in the case of an emergency. And good news! These essential items also make excellent gifts that are unique and thoughtful.

Below are some suggestions for gifts that keep on giving:

Radios: Almost everyone loves a good radio. The first one to consider buying for your loved one is a battery or electric powered NOAA Weather Alert Radio. These radios can be lifesavers, warning of sudden tornadoes and other severe weather. These can be found in most hardware stores or online, along with a huge variety of other types of emergency radios, from battery-powered handheld radios to crank-style radios complete with TV.

Campers delight: Battery-powered lanterns are another popular gift. Again, styles range from basic to elaborate and double for essential equipment for camping or outdoor entertaining. Flashlights, backup emergency lighting run along the same lines: frugal to fancy. What home doesn’t need them?

Home essentials: A lot of people appreciate gifts for the home, since it is often difficult to fit important purchases into the household budget. Smoke or carbon monoxide alarms are something every home should have. Another good gift is a waterproof fire box. Not only will it keep valuables safe and sound, it offers a safe place to put all of their important papers. Make sure it is small enough to grab and go.

Battery backup: How would your loved one keep in touch with you - or play video games for that matter - without power for their mobile devices? Rain or shine, backup batteries are always a good bet for gift gifting, as they are handy the whole year through. Some make great stocking stuffers. Others are equipped to charge a phone several times and even handle laptops. Consider a solar backup battery to ensure that they stay in touch for the long haul. And don’t forget the standard car charger, in every color and style they love.

Batteries! Need we say more? Stocking up on batteries is great, but take care that they don’t expire before you use them.

Water storage: Pretty basic, but storing water is not always the first thing that people think about when making emergency preparations. If you search online for water storage, water storage containers and collapsible water storage containers, you will be greeted with a plethora of water storage options. In addition to making residents well prepared, the collapsible options are easy to carry and make a good utility player on the sports field or picnic in the park.

Tarps: The reality is that tarps may be needed after severe weather. The silver lining to this cloud is that blue roofs need not be so cumbersome to handle. Self-adhering tarps, also called self-adhesive, are available in major home improvement stores and online and can help to maintain the integrity of a damaged roof. And guess what? They aren’t all blue.

Flood Barriers: As a storm approaches, sandbags become very popular, however, they are not available all over the county and their usefulness is limited at best. One option is tapping the market for flood barriers. A quick search on the internet is all it takes for the floodgates to open to all types of barriers. It’s a gift that they will never forget – especially if it keeps them from getting all wet.

Activities: Keep in mind that if power is lost, a lot of entertainment can be lost as well. Why not put together a non-powered activity kit? Include playing cards, puzzles, kids and adult coloring book and crayons/markers/colored pencils. A good family game is a great gift anytime. And speaking of great gifts, who doesn’t love getting a gift for their four-legged children? A carrier for a pet is a nice gift – make it fancy if you like. Portable bowls and other fun items are sure to come in handy.

With a little forethought, you can be prepared to give a gift this holiday season that is not only unique but which helps protect the ones you love.

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