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New Port Richey, Florida -- As part of National Public Health Week, Tuesday's theme Don't Panic and Plan Ahead brought agencies together to share disaster preparedness tips in their communities so residents can be ready for the unexpected.

"Being prepared individually and as a community is the best protection against the devastating effects of a natural or man-made disaster," said Pasco County Health officer Mike Napier. "The public/private partnerships through our Cities Readiness Initiative have increased our ability to respond in the event medical counter-measures, such as medications need to be distributed quickly. Because of the great support of our partners, Pasco County has been recognized as Public Health Ready by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for our ability to respond to public health emergencies."

Families are encouraged to gather for a night of emergency preparedness activities: make plans for putting together an emergency stockpile kit, create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and hold household emergency drills.

Some additional steps that can be taken include:

EVALUATE

  • Identify potential threats in your community, such as the location of flood prone areas, power plants and hazardous chemicals.
  • Discuss how natural and man-made threats could affect your family.
  • Evaluate your property's vulnerability to hazards, such as storm surge, flooding and wildfires.
  • Check your insurance coverage.

PREPARE

  • Identify the safest areas of your home for each threat. In many circumstances, the safest area may not be your home but elsewhere in your community. During times of evacuation, you will be given instructions on evacuation routes.
  • Specify escape routes from your home and places to meet (rally points), such as a neighbor's home, a school or a public location.
  • Make a plan for evacuating the area if required.
  • Designate an out-of-area contact friend or family member so that each of your immediate family members has the same single point of contact. Plan to have at least two means of communication, (e.g., e-mail, phone and cell phone).
  • Make a plan for your pets should you need to evacuate. Most shelters will accept service animals.
  • Have your family emergency information accessible, including important family documents such as prescriptions and insurance information.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911. Make sure cell phones are fully charged.
  • Assemble and maintain a disaster supply kit. A battery-powered weather radio equipped with a special alarm tone feature is a vital tool. During an emergency, the National Weather Service forecasters will interrupt routine radio programming and send out the special tone that activates weather radios in the listening area.

MONITOR & ACT

  • When a disaster occurs, listen to credible news sources for information and instructions.
  • Evacuate or seek medical attention quickly if instructed to do so by authorities. If you cannot obtain information, determine as best you can if you are in a danger area and take steps to get to safety.
  • Whether you stay (shelter in place) or evacuate, don't panic. Follow your family plan.

For more information on emergency preparedness and response visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

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