After the wind dies down and we all start to emerge from our safe havens to survey the damage, the real work is about to begin. There are some very important things to remember at this time because this is when the most injuries happen. In addition, it is during the aftermath of a disaster when unscrupulous “businesses” move in to prey on the survivors. Here are some points to consider after a disaster.

First and foremost, be patient. If you have evacuated, wait until the all clear is given by local officials and it’s safe for you to return. If you stayed in the area, as long as you are safe, stay in your shelter, as well. In the initial hours after a disaster, especially a storm, first-responders are very busy checking the county for hazards. Trees will be in the road and powerlines will be down and crews will be hard at work stabilizing the situation. They don’t need people out sight-seeing, getting in their way and causing more hazards.

Another important piece of information concerns your insurance and repairs. Prior to hurricane season, review your insurance policies. Automobile, vessel and home owner/renter insurance are all important documents to have in hand and be well versed in. Also, beware of unlicensed contractors and NEVER pay with cash prior to the work being done. If you suspect a contractor of potential fraud, contact the Florida consumer fraud hotline, 866-966-7226, and your local law enforcement agency.

Don’t use equipment you are not properly trained to use. Generators and grills should never be used inside a structure. Fire and carbon monoxide are killers! Another common dangerous tool is a chainsaw. It takes a lot of practice to be truly proficient with a chainsaw, so leave that to the professionals.

These are just a few tips to keep you safe after a storm. To learn about more tips and resources, plan on attending the DeSoto County Hurricane Seminar and Community Services Expo on June 6, 5-8 p.m. at the Turner Agri-Civic Center, Arcadia. There will be guest speakers and local agencies and businesses there to provide you with information about services and products. Admission is free.

For questions or more information about all the emergency management programs available in DeSoto County, call 863-993-4831, or email eoc@desotobocc.com. Get emergency alerts by email, text or directly to your phones by signing up for “DeSoto Alerts,” a free service provided by DeSoto County Emergency Management, on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DesotoEM/. Click on the blue SIGN UP button to register and “Like” our page while you are there.

Remember, the 2019 hurricane season is only five weeks away. Do not wait until there is a storm coming to start your preparations, because disasters of all types can occur at any time.

Here is this week’s shopping list for your kits. Shopping lists are just a guide. Please adjust to your family’s needs. Always check expiration dates. Make the item last as long as possible (at least through Nov. 30) and be sure to check in next week for our next shopping list.

Brian Newhouse is emergency management coordinator for DeSoto County Emergency Management.

Things to do:

Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current. Get a copy of the records from your veterinarian.

Items to purchase (per person):

1 gallon water

1 can meat

1 can ready-to-eat soup and/or pasta

1 canned fruit

1 can vegetables

1 box quick energy snacks

This list was adapted from a series by Candi Kelly, Manatee County Emergency Management.

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