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Home > Disaster Preparation

Hurricane Preparedness/Personal Plan:
Be prepared to live for at least three days with no assistance from outside sources.

Emergency Phone Numbers and Websites

Public Sheter Locations:
Polk County Emergency Public Shelter List

Special Needs Program, Evacuation Pre-Registration

Pre-Storm Planning:

  1. Decide if you are going to buy shutters or plywood to cover windows (have professionals install, or do it yourself).  If you choose plywood, precut and mark the location of each plywood sheet.  Plywood must be anchored on the outside of the window.  Determine if garage door needs reinforcement.  The northeast quadrant of a hurricane is the strongest; therefore, the southwest side of your home will be the area you really need to protect. 
  2. Videotape the contents of your home, garage and landscape for insurance purposes.  Store in your safe deposit box at your bank or in the emergency box you are going to prepare.
  3. Gather important documents such as deeds, titles, stock certificates, wills, birth certificate, military and adoption records, credit card and bank account numbers, insurance policies and anything else that would be difficult to replace.  Store in a large, waterproof envelope, ready to place in your emergency box.
  4. If you live in an evacuation zone or in a mobile home, decide where you are going and determine how you will get there, but try to avoid the Interstate.  If you are going to go to the home of relatives or friends, discuss your plans with them and determine what you need to bring.
  5. Check with other relatives in the area for information about their evacuation/preparation plans.  This will be very important if you are not in an evacuation zone and your relatives are! Your home may become their refuge.  If that is the case, you will need to have more supplies, etc.  Only those in evacuation zones or in mobile homes should go to a shelter.  The safest place to be is your own secured home.
  6. Determine what you will do with your pets, especially if you are evacuating.  Pets are not allowed in most shelters.
  7. Buy plastic storage boxes with handles and secure lids to serve as your emergency boxes and fill with the suggested supply list.  Review the hurricane preparation guide from the newspaper or from the Internet before you go on your shopping trip.  Add any items you think are necessary to provide for your family.
  8. Save and clean a variety of two-liter bottles (not milk jugs).  Begin to stockpile enough water to provide one gallon a day for each family member and enough to last at least a week.  Once a storm is approaching, fill remainder of bottles.
  9. Store a week’s supply of canned or packaged food that won’t spoil.  Do the same for your pets.
  10. If you are staying in your home, determine where the safest spot is – an inside walled area with no windows.  An inside bathroom, underneath stairs or a hallway are examples of inside walled areas.

Storm Approaching:

This list indicates what needs to be taken care of and by whom when a storm is approaching:

  • Bring in everything not attached to the house.
  • Fill clean, two-liter bottles with water and place in the freezer.
  • Make and store ice.
  • Stock up on supplies (see grocery list).
  • Get cash – ATMs will not work without electricity.
  • Get medication refilled – have a 30-day supply.
  • Charge all cell phone batteries.
  • Fill car with gas, check oil, tires, etc.
  • Gather additional radios and flashlights; verify battery needs.
  • Put games/toys/cards for children in the emergency box.

When A Storm is Going to Hit:

This list indicates what needs to be completed and by whom when a storm is going to hit:

  • Board windows with shutters or pre-cut plywood.
  • Get two extra outfits of clothing for every person (including shoes and underwear); place in a plastic bag in your safe area.
  • Fill large, clean trash cans with water and store in garage.
  • Gather pillows, small mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets and lawn chairs in the secure area. Small mattresses can be used to protect your family from debris if the roof goes.
  • Put emergency box in secure area.
  • Clean bathtub thoroughly; clean again with plain bleach. Seal bathtub drain with silicone caulking to hold the water. Fill the tub with water and add some plain bleach. It may be handy to have thick plywood cut to fit over tub so you could use that area to sit on or for storage of supplies.
  • Turn freezer and refrigerator to coldest setting. Fill every area in freezer with two-liter ice bottles made earlier or pack with ice in Ziploc bags.
  • Unplug TV, VCR, sound system, computer, etc.
  • Gather lanterns and extra oil – do not light during high winds.
  • Put picture albums and special memorabilia in plastic bags.
  • Turn off irrigation system.
  • Gather water and food and take to the safe area or store in an inside closet that should be safe (i.e., linen closet).
  • If you have a gun, unload it and store it with ammunition inside a closet.
  • Detach propane tank from gas grill and put in a secure place inside garage.
  • Boat owners: If your boat is on a trailer, tie it down or move it inside garage. If moored, follow procedures for securing a boat in a hurricane guide, newspaper or from the internet.
  • Pool owners: Cover the pool pump filter and super-chlorinate the pool.
  • Turn off gas and electricity to your house.

Emergency Box:

Suggested Contents:

  • Ziploc bags with important papers – house and car insurance policies, copies of social security cards, birth certificates, passports, wills, etc.
  • One flashlight for each family member with batteries stored outside the flashlight to avoid corrosion
  • Spare batteries for radio, flashlights, etc., as well as things like hearing aids
  • Cheap camera and film to take pictures of damage for the insurance company
  • Basic tools such as a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, wrench and nails
  • First aid kit
  • Water treatment pills (available at camping supply stores)
  • Small bottle of plain bleach
  • Lots of plastics of various sizes
  • Personal hygiene/comfort needs
  • Mosquito netting and repellent
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Designated radio and batteries (stored outside the radio)
  • Medium-sized cook pot and skillet that can be used on a grill
  • Cooking implements
  • Charcoal and wooden matches sealed in plastic bags
  • Paper cups and plates
  • Plastic eating utensils
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, pre-moistened towelettes
  • Candles and matches in sealed plastic bags
  • Plastic sheeting
  • An air horn – Makes a loud blast that can be heard for great distances; if you are trapped in your house, you can let people know you’re there
  • Instant flat-tire sealer – roads may be littered with glass and debris after a storm
  • Pet food and medication
  • Oven mitts
  • A wind-up clock
  • Duct tape
  • Spray paint – to paint your house number and names of insurance carrier on the side of your home to attract the attention of insurance adjusters

Grocery List:
Think: What will my family eat?
What is ready to eat or can be heated on the grill?
What will not require refrigeration after opening?

  • Juices in individual containers
  • Dried milk
  • Gatorade
  • Canned meats
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Granola bars
  • Raisins
  • Applesauce – individual containers
  • Pudding – individual containers
  • Soup
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Instant coffee or tea
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Crackers and cookies


  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal fluid
  • Matches
  • Batteries
  • Plastic bags 
  • Water
  • Bleach (plain)
  • Gas for the grill
  • Infant/toddler items such as diapers, baby food and formula

After the Storm:

If you evacuate:

Once the storm passes and emergency workers have cleared the roads of trees, fallen power lines and completed rescue operations, you will be allowed to return to your home. Be careful driving if roads remain flooded. You may be asked for identification to be allowed back into your neighborhood. This security is to prevent sightseeing and looting. Stay away from downed power lines, flooded streets and standing water.

  • Check for obvious damage and potentially dangerous situations, such as unstable walls or ceiling materials and broken glass.
  • If you smell gas, open windows and leave immediately.
  • If you have power, check for signs of electrical damage, such as sparks or frayed wires.
  • Take photographs of damage; then make temporary repairs, if needed, such as patching holes in the roof or walls and covering broken windows.
  • Keep all receipts for temporary repairs.
  • If there is water in your house, try to get as much out as possible, then make sure the home is well ventilated.
  • Clean wet clothing and furniture as soon as possible.
  • Dry metal objects like drapery rods and appliances, then coat them with a light layer of oil to prevent rust.
  • Have any electrical appliance exposed to water serviced before using it.
  • Take inventory of any damaged or missing possessions. Don’t throw away any items you believe are a total loss before your insurance adjuster sees them.

    Source: Neil Johnson, The Tampa Tribune; Hurricane Guide 2000; June 1, 2000; Page 11



City Hall:  451 Third St. NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881    tel: (863) 291-5600


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