Thursday, May 27, 2004

Hurricane Safety Tips

LABELLE, FL. (May 27, 2004) -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services
Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is reminding residents to keep their homes,
pets and livestock in mind while preparing for hurricane season, which
begins June 1 and lasts until November 30. Forecasters are predicting 12
to 15 tropical storms in Florida this year, with six to eight systems
becoming hurricanes.

"Many people are diligent about stocking up on batteries, non-perishable
food and water in the event of a hurricane, but there are other critical
steps that must be taken to prevent loss of life and property," Bronson

Bronson is providing some tips for residents to use to prepare for a
hurricane or other natural disaster and to keep in mind should a hurricane


-- If forced to evacuate, turn off the propane tank service valve and the
shut-off valve on all propane appliances.

-- Appliance and equipment controls that have been under water should be
inspected by the gas company and the controls replaced prior to being put
back into service.


-- Stock up with foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking.

-- All food contaminated by flood water (except undamaged metal cans)
should be discarded.

-- Undamaged cans as well as refrigerators, counters, cookware dishes and
glassware contaminated by flood water should be washed, rinsed and
sanitized in a solution of two teaspoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of
room temperature potable water.

-- Keep several gallons of bottled water available. If under a boil-water
notice, do not use tap water or make ice without boiling first.


-- Store lawn chemicals and fertilizers off the ground and in a location
not subject to flooding.


-- Keep ID tags and vaccinations up to date.

-- Prepare a pet survival kit, including food for two weeks, a manual can
opener, medications, a pet carrier, bedding and vaccination records.

-- If you plan to board a pet, make written arrangements in advance, well
before a storm threatens.

-- Contact hotels and motels along your evacuation route to check policies
on accepting pets and keep the list handy.

-- The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has prepared a helpful
brochure "Disaster Preparedness for Pets," which is on the web at


-- Keep vaccinations and other health requirements up to date.

-- If possible, make arrangements in advance for evacuation of horses.
Know where you can take your horses for shelter along your evacuation
route. Make sure your horse trailer is "ready to go" or other transport
arrangements are prepared well in advance. Carry your vaccination record
and health papers with you.

-- If not evacuating, make sure animals have access to high ground in case
of flooding.

-- Check all gates, fences and enclosures for loose parts and overall

-- Secure equipment, small sheds and other items that may become flying
debris and injure animals.


-- Following a disaster declaration, it is illegal in Florida to charge
excessive prices for essential items such as gas, food, ice, lumber and, if
evacuated, lodging. Residents should report any price-gouging by calling
1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352).


-- Con artists may prey on residents who suffer home damage by offering to
repair the damage with materials left over from a previous job. Citizens
can protect themselves by checking with the local building department or
with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to make
sure the contractor is licensed. They should also ask for and verify local

-- Charity scams often surface following a disaster. Before you give,
ensure that the charity is registered with the Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services by calling 1-800-HELPFLA
(1-800-435-7352). Never give cash and always write checks payable to the
organization, not an individual.

Bronson says consumers who are educated about the potential dangers a
natural disaster presents to health, home and pocketbook are more likely to
avoid being harmed or victimized by scam artists.

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