Vol. 12, No. 6, June 2016

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Agriculture Commissioner Offers Tips to Prepare for Approaching 2016 Hurricane Season

During National Hurricane Preparedness Week, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam urges families across Florida to prepare for the 2016 hurricane season that begins June 1.

“With hurricane season fast approaching, the best defense you have is to plan early,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Although Florida has not experienced a hurricane hit in more than 10 years, it's critical to prepare your families and your homes in the case of a disaster.”

  • Have a Plan: Know what you and your family will do in an emergency. Have supplies ready to go and have locations and directions mapped out. Make sure everyone in your house knows the plan.
  • Prepare a Kit: Keep a kit ready to go with emergency supplies. This should include a three-day supply of water and food for each family member, blankets and sleeping bags, first-aid kid, battery powered radio, changes of clothing, emergency tools, flashlights and extra batteries, credit cards and spare cash, prescription and other medications, pet necessities, a list of important phone numbers, chargers for electronic devices if there is power available, and special items for infants, elderly or disabled household members.

  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date on the latest weather information. Watch local news and weather, listen to a weather radio or keep updated on your computer or smartphone.
  • Find Shelter:Research the location of hurricane shelters before the season starts. Know if you can take a pet or not. Ensure any livestock or other animals have at least a three-day supply of food and water.

In addition to these tips, keeping your food and water supply safe is one of the most important things you can do during a disaster.

  • Keep an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer so you can get an accurate temperature reading even if the power is off. A freezer should be at or below 0°F and the fridge at 40°F.
  • Store food on shelves high enough so they will not be contaminated in case of flood.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep food cold if the power is out more than four hours. Keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Discard perishables, such as meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items, if the power is out more than four hours.
  • Use bottled water if you are concerned about your water supply. If you don't have bottled water, boil water and let it cool before storing to drink.

During an emergency, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is responsible for providing necessary food and water supplies and supporting protection of animals and pets. In addition, the department's Florida Forest Service, made up of a vast network of personnel and equipment, assists emergency responders in ensuring Floridians are safe and that they receive the necessary supplies during an emergency.

For more information and tips on hurricane preparedness, visit the National Weather Service's website.


FDA Finalizes New Food Safety Rule to Prevent Adulteration of the Food Supply

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized a new food safety rule under the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent wide-scale public health harm by requiring companies in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent intentional adulteration of the food supply.

While such acts are unlikely to occur, the new rule advances mitigation strategies to further protect the food supply.

Under the new rule, both domestic and foreign food facilities, for the first time, are required to complete and maintain a written food defense plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate contamination where the intent is to cause wide-scale public health harm.

Facilities now have to identify and implement mitigation strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish food defense monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.

A webinar is planned for June 21, 2016 to present key pieces of the final rule.

For More Information


Chatham County, Georgia Seeks Pet Evacuation Training Assistance from Florida SARC

When an evacuation order is issued for Chatham County, the Evacuation Assembly Area (EAA) will be activated to assist members of the public and their pets who do not have reliable transportation out of town.

Appropriate staffing at the pet evacuation area has always been a major concern in regards to pet check in procedures, registration, vaccination and loading. Animal Control and the Humane Society both are responsible for evacuating their own shelters and simply will not have enough staff to assist with pet evacuations of the general public at the EAA. This year, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency decided to do something about it.

We are proud to announce the First graduating class of the Chatham Animal Response Team. Together, team members have completed approximately 1,000 hours of training to become the first deployable volunteer team in the state of Georgia. This victory would not be possible without the help of the Florida State Animal Response Coalition.

As the first and only animal response group to have plans approved by FEMA, the Florida SARC members are truly leading subject matter experts.

They traveled to Savannah for three weekend sessions to train Chatham County citizens on all-hazard disaster preparation, planning, training, response, recovery and sheltering during animal emergencies.

The training consists of three levels: Introduction, Advanced and Train the Trainer. Of the original group, 30 are approved to deploy, 18 advanced to incident managers and 12 are approved for training future volunteers. To help CART members gain experience, they are encouraged to volunteer with area shelters and rescue organizations.

Now, when a hurricane, fire, tornado or other disaster threatens our area, the Chatham Animal Response Team (CART) will be there to assist the animals that rely on us. CART is organized under Chatham Emergency Management and utilizes the principles of The Incident Command System (ICS). Thanks to Florida SARC, our volunteers are now able to not only exercise pet emergency response, some have become certified trainers and have the ability to train other teams throughout Georgia.

The Florida SARC is an invaluable resource for Chatham County and we are so proud to have them as emergency response partners.

Meredith Ley, Public Information Officer
Chatham Emergency Management Agency
Savannah, Georgia