Not that many years ago, getting information out to the public during an emergency was dependent upon TV and radio announcements. Now, in addition to traditional mass-media, there is social media, specialized apps, email, and text messages, all of which you can access from the smartphone that is probably in your hand as you read this. These advances in mass communications technology are being leveraged by emergency managers with the goal of educating the public when skies are blue and keeping them safe when dangerous conditions exists.
In DeSoto County, we use a FREE system called DeSoto Alert, powered by Everbridge, to disseminate information. It is completely free to you, the public, through a partnership between the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the DeSoto Board of County Commissioners. This system is now active in 64 of the 67 counties in Florida and has been widely used over the past three years during hurricanes and other incidents and planned events to provide lifesaving information.
By signing-up for DeSoto Alert, you will be able to receive potentially lifesaving information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, wherever you may be located. DeSoto Alert allows you, the end user, to choose some of the alerts you will get, while others are set by default. You can choose between calls to your home phone, texts and calls to your cellphone, emails and social-media alerts, or a combination of all the above. You can also set times when you don’t want to receive messages of lesser importance, but the system can override that if dangerous situations are eminent.
You can get emergency alerts by email, text or directly to your phones by signing up for “DeSoto Alerts” on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/DesotoEM/. Click on the blue SIGN UP button to register and “Like” our page while you are there. You can also download the free Everbridge app for your phone. It’s easy to do and may save your life.
For questions or more information about the Emergency Management programs available in DeSoto County, please call 863-993-4831, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, the 2019 hurricane season is only 14 weeks away. Do not wait until there is another storm coming to start your preparations, because disasters can occur at any time.
Here is this week’s shopping list for your kit. 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.
Items to purchase:
1 box heavy-duty garbage bags
1 box large plastic zip-type food bags
1 package disposable cups
1 package disposable plates
1 package disposable utensils
2 rolls paper towels
This list was adapted from a series by Candi Kelly, Manatee County Emergency Management.
Brian Newhouse is emergency management coordinator for DeSoto County Emergency Management