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Red Cross Urges Floridians to Prepare for Impact, Readies for Massive Response to Hurricane Matthew

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The Red Cross is working closely with the entire disaster response community to synchronize efforts.

The American the Red Cross of Central Florida urges all Floridians to follow their county’s evacuation orders and stay informed about the preparedness steps that must be taken to safely brace for impact. Floridians in the path of Hurricane Matthew who have received an evacuation order should leave their homes immediately and go to their nearest shelter.

Hurricane Matthew is the most powerful hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Charley in 2004. After the storm, power outages may plague Floridians for several days or weeks. Debris and flooding will likely create challenges for first responders to gain immediate access to certain communities.

“Powerful storms like Hurricane Matthew have the potential to cause widespread devastation and create more needs than any one organization can meet on its own,” said Linda Jorge Carbone, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Central Florida. “The Red Cross is working closely with the entire disaster response community. Together, we will synchronize efforts so that people get the help they need as quickly as possible. While response efforts are underway, it is imperative that every Floridian who decides not to evacuate or go to a shelter is prepared to survive in their home with enough food, water, and supplies for at least five days.”

EVACUATION ZONES AND SHELTERS

Floridians are urged to follow all evacuation orders and seek a safe shelter from Hurricane Matthew. Some areas could suffer as many as 10 inches of rain and the Red Cross is prepared to open or support up to 100 evacuation shelters, together with our partners across the state. More than 30 Red Cross emergency response vehicles are standing by. For a real time list of open shelters, use the Red Cross shelter locator (also available on the Red Cross Emergency App) or visit State of Florida shelter webpage to find the nearest evacuation center.

Shelter tips: If someone is evacuating to a shelter, they should bring prescription or emergency medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents, a charged cell phone, ear plugs, and comfort items. They should also include any special items for children such as diapers, formula and toys, and items needed by family members with unique needs. They should not bring alcohol, tobacco, or weapons of any kind. Space is limited, so people are advised to bring essential items only and leave valuables at home. 

POWER OUTAGES 

Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they last a long time. For prolonged power outages, Florida residents should steps to minimize food loss and to keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. 
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. 
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times. 
  • Consider the following precautions to keep your family safe until power is restored:

  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. 
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances or electronics. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. 
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on. 
  • Avoid unnecessary travel, especially by car. Stop lights will be out and roads congested.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside any partially enclosed area. The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity or heat are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location. Call for help and remain there until emergency personnel arrive. 
  • DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP 

    The FREE Red Cross Emergency App provides real time safety information on your mobile device, including emergency weather alerts and shelter locations. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or go to redcross.org/apps

    HAVE A DISASTER KIT 

    An emergency kit should contain supplies for at least five days, to include a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents. Recommended items are available at redcross.org/kit

    STAY INFORMED 

    People living in the path of the hurricane should keep informed about weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials. They should also listen to local media or a NOAA weather radio for critical information from the National Weather Service. Evacuations are coordinated by the county and residents should look to their local Emergency Management offices or local news for updates.

    About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.