In preparation for Tropical Storm Karen, the State of Florida today issued safety guidelines to protect communities. Local state of emergencies have been issued in Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Escambia, Walton and Washington counties. The Governor's declaration of emergency, issued Thursday, covers 18 counties and remains in effect.
Governor Scott said, "Many Florida communities are in the path of Tropical Storm Karen, and now is the time to check on loved ones, review evacuation routes, and get critical supplies. As Tropical Storm Karen moves closer, families should follow the directions of their local leaders to ensure safety. Earlier today, I spoke with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx who assured us that all federal resources would be available despite the federal shutdown. On the state level, we're continuing to work with local and federal leaders to ensure our communities' needs are met. There's still a lot of time for this storm to change, so families must remain vigilant, stay informed and be ready to evacuate if needed."
Threat of Rip Currents
Residents and visitors should stay alert and use caution at the beach this week, as an elevated risk of rip currents is expected along the Florida Panhandle through the weekend.
A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. Visitors and Floridians are reminded to visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov for updates on rip current warnings before heading to the beach and to observe beach warning flags. When a red flag is flying, beachgoers should remain alert.
Safety Precautions for Florida Families for TS Karen
Ensuring Families Are Healthy
Include enough medications in the emergency supply kit to sustain through the storm and after.
Have a list of important documents available, including medical information.
Include water in the emergency kit -- at least one gallon per person, per day.
Have healthy, nonperishable foods and a manual can opener available.
Take food safety precautions, i.e. turn the refrigerator and freezer temperature to the coldest settings.
Never operate a generator inside. Do not operate it near any open door, window or garage door.
Follow precautions to prevent possible illness from flood waters.
Do not wade through standing water.
Avoid contact with flood waters with open cuts or sores.
Practice basic hygiene by washing hands with soap and water often.
Avoid eating or drinking anything that has been contaminated with flood waters.
Staying Safe on the Roads
For real-time traffic and road condition reports, as well as maps and additional safety tips, FHP encourages motorists to visit www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/. Florida motorists also can call 511 on their cell phone or visit http://fl511.com/ for up-to-the-minute updates on traffic congestion, road construction, lane closures, severe weather and travel delays on interstates and major highways.
Take bottled water and at least 72 hours of foods (non-perishable foods & limit salty foods) & pack medications.
Slow down to avoid hydroplaning.
If the road ahead is flooded, turn around and find an alternate route. Flooded roads may hide the fact that the roadway is washed out underneath and as little as six inches of rushing water can force a car off the road.
Avoid driving in heavy storms, and stay in a safe place after the storm. Be prepared to remain in place for an extended period. Often, injuries and deaths occur in the aftermath of storms. Sightseers impeding roadways cause obstacles for emergency personnel responding to those in need.
Windy conditions adversely affect all vehicles, particularly high profile vehicles, such as buses and trucks, as well as motorcycles. Gusty wind makes driving difficult, especially when it is rapidly changing speed and direction.
Protecting Florida's Environment
Safely store hazardous materials: If potentially hazardous materials are leftunsecured or are secured in a low-lying area that can be exposed if it lies in a flood zone, this could create environmental or safety hazards during a powerful storm. Hazardous materials left near windows can easily become exposed as well. Placing materials on secured shelving can limit the likelihood of spillage. These materials should be stored in accordance with manufacturer's directions as well as state or federal regulations.
Dispose of hazardous materials properly: Dispose of excess or expired hazardous material appropriately. Material may be disposed of according to manufacturer's guidelines on the container or at a county household hazardous waste facility. Visit DEP's Hazardous Waste website to find a nearby facility near and to get information about disposing of waste.
Materials that should be stored away securely, include: Paints and pesticides, Waste containers, Chlorine cylinders from swimming pools and compressed gases.
Safety Tips for Boaters
Vessels that break free can cause problems to waterways by causing fuel and oil pollution, drifting into bridges, docks, seawalls and piers, and interfering with navigation. In addition, the boats themselves can sustain damage.
If a boat is on a trailer, please secure the vessel in a safe location, let some air out of the trailer tires, block the wheels and, if possible, anchor the boat down and/or add weight to help keep the boat in place.
If possible and safe, remove boats from the water and onto the upland. If this is not possible, move vessel out of slips and into open or highly protected waters.
All boats, whether in the water or on a trailer, should be secured with extra safety lines. Boats in the water should be secured with extra lines and additional fenders.
Remove portable marine sanitation devices, loose gear and equipment.
Secure all hatches, doorways and windows to prevent water intrusion.
Protecting the Elderly
Safeguard important documents such as identification, Social Security card, insurance documents and emergency contact information.
Consider special medical needs, such as an adequate supply of prescription drugs.