Fort Myers, Fla. (September 26, 2022) — Hurricane Ian has formed and is expected to strengthen to a major hurricane, with a projected landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast midweek. Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches have already been issued for parts of the area. The American Red Cross Florida Gulf Coast to Heartland Chapter has been preparing in advance of impacts in our area and urges residents to monitor closely, to stay alert, to be prepared and to stay safe.
“It is critical to take the necessary precautions to keep you and your families safe. This includes monitoring local news and updates from local emergency management regarding weather conditions and evacuation orders” said Jill Palmer, Executive Director, American Red Cross Florida Gulf Coast to Heartland Chapter. “Risks from this powerful storm could include high winds, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, power outages and tornadoes.”
See the important hurricane safety information below:
Know the difference between a hurricane watch and warning.
- A hurricane watch means conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Prepare to act if a warning is issued and stay informed.
- A hurricane warning means conditions are expected within 36 hours. Stay indoors, ideally in a room without windows.
Get your home ready.
- Cover windows with storm shutters or plywood.
- Store outside items, such as lawn furniture and trash cans, to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurting someone.
Tune into your local radio, NOAA radio or news channel for the latest updates. Obey evacuation orders from local officials.
- Check your emergency kit and replace any missing items.
- Prepare to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations.
- Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
- Never ride out a severe storm in a mobile home, even if it’s in a non-evacuation zone.
Don’t forget your pets.
- As conditions deteriorate, bring them indoors and keep a close eye on them.
- Prepare an emergency kit for your pets with leashes, carriers, food, water, bowls, litter, litterbox and photos of you with your pet in case you are separated.
As storm approaches, stay indoors. Avoid beaches, riverbanks and floodwaters.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding. Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwaters. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown.
- If the power is out, use a flashlight. Don’t use candles or any open flame for lighting.
Evacuation Center vs Shelter
In addition to being Red Cross Ready, it's imperative to keep in mind that there is an essential distinction between pre-storm evacuation shelters and post-storm shelters
Pre-storm evacuation shelters provide a safe place to stay for those who have been ordered to evacuate their homes prior to a storm. They typically are only meant to house people for 12-72 hours until the storm moves through. Because these shelters must open quickly, it may not be possible to provide a cot and blanket for each person and it may not be practical to move in supplies for such a short-term.
Post-storm shelters are available for people who have been evacuated and are unable to reach their homes or whose homes are unlivable. Post-storm shelters will open within 72 hours after landfall and provide sleeping support items such as cots, blankets and pillows, meals, shower facilities, medical services and other support services.
What to bring:
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation)
- Food: non-perishable, 3-day supply for evacuation, including any special dietary needs
- Bedding/sleeping items
- Prescription and emergency medications for all family members
- Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Sanitation and personal hygiene products
- Personal care and other comfort items
- Photo ID, cash
- Extra clothing
- Special items for infants, like diapers, food, medication
- Household pets: leash, crate, food, and medicine*
- Power cords for portable electronics
Additional Red Cross Resources
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for real-time weather alerts, open Red Cross shelters, and expert advice on emergency situations. Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps. You can also enable the Red Cross Hurricane Alert skill on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices to receive warnings about an approaching hurricane and preparedness information.
For more preparedness and safety resources, visit redcross.org/prepare.
Red Cross also encourages local residents to learn about ways to volunteer in the event of needs post storm. Visit redcross.org/SFLvolunteer to see opportunities and register.
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/southflorida or visit us on Facebook or Twitter at @SFLRedCross.