July 2020

Important phone numbers and websites

Pinellas County Emergency Management Opens a new window (727) 464-3800 www.pinellascounty.org/emergency Opens a new window

Find your evacuation zone (727) 453-3150 http://kyz.pinellascounty.orgOpens a new window

Find your flood zone www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/fema_firm.htmOpens a new window

Special Needs RegistrationOpens a new window (727) 464-3800 https://specialneeds.pinellascounty.org/#!/loginOpens a new window

Pinellas County Emergency Management TwitterOpens a new window

Ready Pinellas Opens a new window app

Alert Pinellas Opens a new window Receive emergency alerts to your phone or email.

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


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

Lightning Safety From Those With First-Hand Knowledge

"When thunder roars, go indoors." We hear the message regularly, but the question is: Do we follow it?  Sometimes we need to hear from people who have first-hand experience to appreciate the importance of following this advice.

Take, for example, Janae Montes, a 13-year-old from Denver who was playing softball one day. Lightning struck her in the head, knocked her unconscious, and stopped her heart. A bystander saved her life. You can hear Janae's story on YouTube. Her recovery was long and painful, and the debilitating effects of the lightning strike will last her entire life.

The message she shared: "Stop thinking that lightning is an inconvenience and take it seriously because it is very serious and can cost you your life."

Closer to home, Dave of Orlando shared his story with the National Weather Service. Almost two years ago, he was struck by lightning while working on a dock on Florida's east coast.

"Then I saw a bright flash at which point I suspect I landed on the dock. I could not move at all but my eyes were open and my head was tilted at an angle. I was told afterwards it started raining very hard but I could not feel anything. I could see blood dripping down across my eyes but could not close them."

He was brought to the hospital and was released the next day. He continues to experience chronic pain, heart palpitations, headaches and loud ringing in his ears, among other symptoms.

It happened here recently. July 5, 2020, lightning struck two beachgoers on Clearwater Beach. They were trying to leave the beach as a line of storms moved onshore from the gulf. They waited too long to leave, and at the time of this writing, one of the patients is in Morton Plant Hospital in critical condition. The second victim was a few feet away from the first and is in stable condition.

So far this year, Florida has had one death, a 41-year-old man from Port St. Lucie who was struck on May 27 while doing yard work.

The lesson is clear: Take lightning seriously and stay safe by following this one rule: When thunder roars, go indoors. Consider installing a weather app on your cell phone so you can check the distance of lighting and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. Check the distance of lightning before doing yard work or going in the water, listen for the roar of thunder and if within earshot listen for the lightning alarms at public parks and other locations.

For lightning safety tips and resources, visit the National Weather Service at https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning.

You can read more first-hand survivor stories at www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-survivor.

COVID-19 Update

We know there is a lot going on these days, but we hope you have had the chance to review your hurricane plans and update your kits. Remember: safely sheltering at home or staying with a family member or friend will be the most comfortable option. If you do have to evacuate, plan where you could stay.

Pinellas County continues to refine our plans for sheltering safely in the case of a hurricane this season. We are minimizing the threat of COVID-19 by planning to accommodate families in shelters with as much social distancing as possible. We will require masks or face coverings in public shelters and we will have hand sanitizer stations and perform routine cleaning as much as possible.

Make sure that face masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are in your kit. Also don’t forget the other items for your hurricane kit, including an air mattress, bedding, important documents, special dietary items and a can opener if required (basic food and water is supplied), personal hygiene items, ear plugs and face masks.

Public shelters should be your last option. If you do not have to evacuate, and your structure is sound, consider staying in your own home, with friends or family in a non-evacuation area, in your place of business, or in a structure that is part of your faith-based community's campus.

Just make sure that wherever you plan to stay, you assess the sturdiness of the structure. You can find out the evacuation zone, what year it is built (the Florida Building Code was established in 2002) and other information on the property by searching the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s website at https://www.pcpao.org/searchpage.php.
You can learn about your options and how to plan for hurricanes at our website: www.pinellascounty.org/emergency.

COVID-19 Testing

We are supporting local efforts to provide free COVID-19 tests in Pinellas County. Many residents have taken advantage of the free testing and we will continue to expand capacity as able. Demand for testing is high nationwide and resources may be limited at testing sites. Please be patient if you want a test and have not been able to be get one.
For information and updates on testing and other Pinellas County COVID-19 information, visit the Pinellas County website at covid19.pinellascounty.org. The site also contains state and local news, links to resources, available services, ways you can help, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

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