As we prepare for hurricane season, here are a few key things we want you to be aware of:
- Following social distancing will keep everyone safer. In general, public shelters we will increase amount of space per individual/family households, increase routine cleaning of common areas, and work to provide proper hand washing materials and hand sanitizer, as able.
- Cloth face coverings are recommended when you are in public places. Plan to bring your own mask to a shelter. Have enough clean masks per person in your household in your hurricane kit.
- We also recommend hand sanitizer and wipes as part of your kit. The county will work diligently throughout the season to obtain additional sanitizer at shelter sites.
- Family units will be allowed to share the space assigned to them. We will need to maintain appropriate distance requirements between each family unit.
- Remember: public shelters do not have cots or generators, and the space you will be able to utilize is limited. Prepare by bringing:
- A one-person air mattress
- Books and activities
- A fan
- Covering for your eyes for sleeping
- Other hygiene, comfort items and medications Often, there is food and water served, but you may want to bring your own food if you are on a special diet.
If you are COVID-19 positive or pending test results
If you are feeling ill at the time of an evacuation, are awaiting test results, or have tested positive for COVID-19, you may have to shelter in a separate shelter, away from other individuals for health and safety. Stay informed for the latest CDC guidance and local orders as a storm approaches.
Special needs shelters
Special needs shelters are for those who have minimal medical needs or who are dependent on electricity for life-sustaining equipment. They are not for residents of assisted living facilities or long-term nursing care. You can ask your facility’s administrator for information on your facility’s emergency plan.
The guidelines that apply to general public shelters will be the same in special needs shelters. Additional precautions will be taken when transporting citizens to the shelters.
- Caregivers and immediate family members will stay together as a family unit, with appropriate spacing between each unit.
- As with public shelters, precautions will be taken to keep the area clean and sanitized. Keep in mind that not all special needs shelters have cots for everyone, so bring a one-person air mattress with you. You will need your own medical equipment and cloth face coverings for each person in your party.
- Please preregister for special needs shelters by calling (727) 464-3800 or go to the website at pinellascounty.org/specialneedsto download a form and to get more information.
- Please see the section on public sheltering for other general guidelines.
Special needs and pets
If you are staying at a special needs shelter, your pet cannot stay with you. If you do not have a family member or friend who can take care of your pet while you are in the special needs shelter, the staff and volunteers at Pinellas County Animal Services will care for your dog or cat.
- Simply bring your dog or cat with you to the special needs shelter. An Animal Services staff member or volunteer will bring them to the dog and cat shelter on Ulmerton Road in Largo.
- You will need to provide a leash, carrier, license, health records, medication and any special instructions. Food is supplied but you can send your own.
- Once you return home, Animal Services staff will bring your pet home to you.
- Remember, to be eligible you must be preregistered with the Emergency Management Special Needs program. Call Emergency Management at (727) 464-3800 to receive a form by mail or call your nearest fire department or home health provider.
Please note this is only for cats and dogs. If you have a pet other than a cat or dog, make plans now for someone to care for them while you are staying in the shelter.
Service animals are welcome at any shelter; note that you must bring the service animal’s supplies.
Special needs transportation
If you need assistance with transportation, your fire department will pick you up and bring you to a special needs shelter, but you MUST REGISTER. You can register by filling out a special needs registration form, which you can get by calling (727) 464-3800 or downloading at www.pinellascounty. org/specialneeds.
When an evacuation is called, your fire department will call you, and verify that you are still in need of transportation assistance to a shelter. Please be ready with your belongings. They will assist you with your belongings and any medical equipment that you have.
How kids can help
Make plans with the whole family
- Involve children in emergency planning.
- Let them help build the Emergency Preparedness Kit. Use matter-of-fact language to discuss safety steps you will take.
- Play “let’s pretend” games with young children to help them work out “what if” situations.
What you might need
If you are evacuating or even if you’re riding out the storm at home, don’t forget the everyday items your children will need. Think through a typical day at home and plan as if there will be no power. A few suggestions:
- Face masks
- Diapers and wipes
- Powdered milk
- Blanket and pacifier
- Stuffed animal or favorite toy
- Favorite non-perishable snacks
- Plenty of batteries