Leon County Disaster Survival Guide
Prepare. Act. Recover.
Surviving all hazards
While hurricanes pose a major threat to Leon County, there are other potential disasters that threaten lives and property. From violent tornadoes to hazardous chemical spills, it is critical to know what to do when warnings are issued.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, advising countries to implement public health measures to prevent the onward spread of the disease. During a global pandemic, the US Center for Disease Control recommends the following actions:
Stay Home if You are Sick
If you are experiencing symptoms of illness, you should stay home as much as possible and contact your healthcare provider.
Wash Your Hands Often
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid Close Contact
Put 6-feet of distance between yourself and other people outside your home. If you are inside your home, avoid close contact with people who are sick. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
Use a Cloth Face Cover
The CDC recommends everyone wear a cloth face cover when going out in public. The cloth face cover is meant to protect others in case you are infected. When using a cloth face cover, continue to observe 6-feet of physical distance and make sure it covers your nose and mouth.
Clean and Disinfect
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
In our global society, infectious diseases can spread quickly by human contact, animals, insects or food. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is the agency responsible for warning the public about pandemic health hazards. The Florida Department of Health in Leon County may also issue warnings and advice. For more information, visit the website of the CDC at CDC.gov, the Florida Dept. of Health at Leon.FloridaHealth.gov, or Leon County’s COVID-19 Information Portal at LeonCountyFL.gov/COVID-19.
Thunderstorms and lightning
Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in Florida, especially during the summertime. The Sunshine State sees about 1.4 million lightning strikes in an average year and we lead the nation in lightning-related deaths. About 10 percent of thunderstorms are severe, with winds 58 mph or stronger and 1-inch hail. Keep an eye on the weather forecast before you venture outdoors and heed nature’s warning when you hear the sky start to rumble.
Every thunderstorm produces lightning. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike. Go inside or find shelter immediately. Wait 30 minutes after hearing the last crash of thunder before going back outdoors.
If you’re indoors during a thunderstorm, stay away from anything that conducts electricity, such as corded phones, electrical appliances, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows.
If stuck outdoors ...
Downed power lines
Man-made and biological hazards
Terrorism and active shooters
Unlike a hurricane, there may be no warning for a terrorist attack, but you can plan ahead by taking the steps referenced earlier: identify emergency contacts, sign up for emergency alerts, and establish a meeting place and a disaster bucket. Be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you see something — report it to law enforcement. Report suspicious activities to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement at 1-855-FLA-SAFE (1-855-352-7233).
If dangerous behavior occurs, whether a shooting or another act of violence, move away as quickly as possible. Be on the lookout for secondary or additional threats as you escape. When you reach a safe location, call 9-1-1 and report the emergency.
Tornadoes can form quickly during thunderstorms any time of year creating high velocity wind and blowing dangerous debris. In Florida, the average warning time before a tornado hits is only 12 minutes. You may only have moments to make a life-or-death decision.
Before a tornado watch occurs, review and discuss your emergency plans. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching.
Designate a safe room where you can stay during a tornado in your home, office or other places you go frequently. Good safe room options include: bathrooms, interior hallways, the center of a building and spaces on the ground floor away from windows.
If you cannot reach your prepared safe room, follow these basic guidelines:
Get In: Get as far inside a strong building as you can, away from doors and windows
Get Down: Get to the lowest floor
Cover Up: Use whatever you can to protect yourself from flying or falling debris
Mobile homes are not safe from the violent winds of a tornado. Identify a safe place in a sturdy building you can go to when tornadoes are possible to protect yourself from flying debris.
Vehicles are easily overturned in a tornado, so get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. Do not try to outrun or outmaneuver a tornado!
Flooding is a year-round threat. Sometimes floods develop slowly and forecasters can anticipate where a flood will happen days or weeks before it occurs. Oftentimes flash floods can occur within minutes and sometimes without any sign of rain.
Know your flood risk
Stay out of the water
Learn more about floods: Leon County has a comprehensive website on our area’s flood hazards and how residents can become better prepared: LeonCountyFL.gov/FloodProtection.
Hazardous materials are part of daily life. Should a chemical spill or other hazardous material release occur, there are a few basic steps you can take to protect yourself:
Droughts and freezes create an ideal situation for wildfires. With so many trees in Leon County, the threat of wildfires is always present. Take a few minutes to discuss with your family what actions you will take if there is a fire in your neighborhood or your home.