Emergency responders push preparedness at 2014 Hurricane Expo
Hurricane season starts Sunday and emergency responders in Hillsborough County are asking residents to be prepared. The 2014 Hurricane Expo at the Museum of Science and Industry is Saturday and will offer resources to stay safe if a storm hits.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 8-13 named storms this year with one or two being major. Even though that’s considered a below average prediction, Hillsborough County emergency manager Preston Cook is asking people to be prepared.
“So, we’re talking about the usual – the water and the food items – but don’t forget the prescriptions. Don’t forget an extra pair of glasses that you may need. Don’t forget to have cash on hand because if the power’s out you may not be able to an ATM and get cash or you may not be able to pay for things if you don’t have cash on hand. You need to have information in your kit as to, where are you going to go? Have a plan. Have it written out. Share it with someone.”
Florida’s hurricane sales tax holiday starts tomorrow and runs through June 8th. Things like flashlights, generators, radios and batteries will be tax free. Cook recommends that people have a “kit” ready to go with 72 hours worth of supplies.
“You may want to put it in backpacks so you can hand it out to the kids and spread it out so that you all will be able to carry it and just be ready to go. Just make sure that whatever you have that it’s secure, it’s somewhat water proof and that it will weather the storm.”
Emergency management officials are also asking people to be familiar with evacuation routes in case they need to get out of town. Tom Forward is the Tampa Fire Chief. He says a lot of people ignore evacuation notices and that’s not a good idea.
“Emergency response personnel may not be able to come to them in the even that they become victims of their own vice – meaning they didn’t evacuate.”
In most situations first responders won’t go to emergency calls if sustained winds are at or above 40 mph. That’s about half the minimum wind speed for a category one hurricane. In those situations, people often think it’s safe to ride out a storm, but Forward says that’s not always the case.
“Signs and things like that become hurling debris out there. Putting emergency responders out there in those type of conditions is not a healthy response posture. So we, for the most part, stop our units from responding.”
The hurricane expo will be fun for kids too. Vivian Santiago-McIlrath is a spokesperson for MOSI.
“We’ve got Kids in Charge available for kids so families can come in and, kind of, just relax in Kids in Charge. Also check out the Junior Firefighter Hurricane challenge where the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue has a firefighter rescue challenge for kids to try out.”
The expo runs from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday. The main entrance to MOSI will be closed. Instead people will enter on 50th street.