Polk County: Everything residents need to know before a storm

Emergency officials provide resources to prepare

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – When it comes to preparing for a storm, Polk County has its residents covered.

[HURRICANE RESOURCES: ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane]

While the local emergency management office offers plenty of resources, it’s up to members of the community to do their research before hurricane season begins so they can have a plan in place before severe weather strikes.

How to stay informed

We recommend that Central Floridians start by installing the News 6 Pinpoint Weather app, which allows you to sign up for location-based push alerts so you’ll receive detailed updates based on where you live. You can download that and our free news app today by searching WKMG in your app store.

[DOWNLOAD NOW: Stay informed with free News 6 apps]

The next step is to sign up for Polk County public safety notifications. When a particular area could be at risk of a hurricane or tornado, residents will receive critical updates via text message or email. Click here to fill out the enrollment form.

Social media is another good place to turn for storm-related information. Click here to follow Polk County Emergency Management on Facebook and here to follow the department on Twitter.

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Regardless of whether a storm is in the forecast, the county has a disaster preparedness plan available to residents at all times.

Staying at home, provided your residence is safe and properly elevated, is the recommended option for most people. Those who live in mobile homes or other residences that might not be able to withstand strong winds and rain should try to shelter with a friend or family member or at a hotel, either locally or in a region outside the storm’s path, officials recommend.

Shelter information

Going to a public shelter should be a last resort since space is limited, county officials said.

County officials said a map of public shelters that would open in the event of an emergency can be found at your neighborhood Publix grocery store. Updates about shelter openings can also be found as they’re posted on Polk County Government Television.

NOTE: Not all emergencies will call for every shelter to be opened. You should always check with the county and call the shelter itself before heading to any of the listed locations.

Even if a location is listed, it is not guaranteed to be open for every storm. Even if it is open, you should always call ahead to ensure there’s availability at that specific location, officials said.

Those who have animals or specific medical situations should plan to go to a special needs shelter. The registration form for those shelters is available here in English and here in Spanish.

Regardless of where you're sheltering, be sure to have a 72-hour emergency survival kit with you. For a list of kits available for purchase online, click here.

Click here for more information about emergency shelters in Polk County.

Other resources

For more information from the Polk County Office of Emergency Management on how to plan for disasters, visit Polk-county.net/emergency-management.

For weather updates, tips on how to prepare your home, family and pets ahead of a storm and what to expect during and after one, visit ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane.