Disaster Preparation


Stay Home

However, before you choose this option, make sure you know your elevation. If we experience a storm that may put a significant storm surge in your home, you need to look at the other options. Also, people in manufactured and mobile homes cannot use this option. Mobile homes and manufactured homes are not built to withstand the high winds associated with tropical storms and hurricanes.

Stay With a Friend or Relative Who has a Safe Place

If this is your plan, make arrangements in advance. You need to make sure that where you are going is safe. It defeats the purpose of evacuating if you go to an unsafe place.

Relocate Out of the Area

You may wish to travel out of harms way. Be sure to bring a road map and make sure that your car is full of fuel. Stay away from major bodies of water. Make arrangements in advance if you can. If you decide to use this option, go early, traffic will be heavy if you leave at the last minute, and you may not make it to your destination.

Emergency Public Shelters

For more information on Emergency Shelters and a list of available Public Shelters please visit our Emergency Shelters page. 

72-Hour Survival Kit

You should plan to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours (3 days) during and after a disaster. You should anticipate no water, electrical power, or utilities for that period of time. To ensure the comfort of your family, whether at home or evacuated to another location please download and print the 72-Hour Survival Kit

Sandbag Information

Sandbags will redirect storm water and debris flows away from homes and other structures, provided the sandbags are properly filled and maintained. Sandbags usually last for only one year.  Consult your local environmental protection department before disposing of used sandbags. Sandbags exposed to contaminated floodwaters may pose an environmental hazard and require special handling.

Download the Sandbag Information document to learn more about filling and placing sandbags as well where to find sand and bags.

Display Your House Numbers Properly

Posting the address numbers on the outside of your home correctly could prevent a delayed response by emergency services and could potentially save the lives of you and your family.  Download the Address Posting or Address Posting en Espanol document to learn more about posting your address numbers properly.

REGISTER to get Public Safety Notifications - "ALERT POLK"

Helpful Offsite Disaster Preparation Links:

2018 Hurricane Shelter Map  

Florida Division of Emergency Management

Hurricane Tracking Chart  

RX Hurricane Supply Flier  

Sandbagging Your Home  

Generator Safety Tips  

Fact Sheet: Using a Chainsaw  

Don't Forget Pets  






American Red Cross (863) 294-5941 View
United Way Information Referral Service (863) 648-1515 or (800) 881-UWAY View
Citizens Information Line (local emergency updates) (863) 401-2222 or (866) 661-0228 N/A
Polk County Animal Services (863) 499-2600 View
Polk County Emergency Communications Center (863) 401-2234 N/A
Polk County Emergency Management (863) 534-5600 N/A
Polk County EMS/Fire/Sheriff's Office (EMERGENCIES ONLY) 911 N/A
Emergency Medical Services (863) 519-7400 N/A


We all know that no two storms are alike and can produce very different results. This is also true in regards to storm surge associated with the high winds that come from each storm. Recent studies have found that there is no direct correlation between wind speed and storm surge height and there are many recent examples to support this theory. As a result of extensive research and input from scientists, engineers and emergency managers, the Saffir-Simpson Scale for categorizing the strength of hurricanes will be totally separate from the level of storm surge beginning this hurricane season.

The new Saffir-Simpson scale keeps the same wind speed ranges as the original Saffir-Simpson Scale for each of the five hurricane categories, but no longer ties specific storm surge and flooding effects to each category.

A team of National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center personnel has been formed to determine the scope and usefulness of a new Storm Surge Watch/Warning product to be used in conjunction with the existing Hurricane Watch/Warning alerts.

New scale and comment about Storm Surge Scales and Storm Surge Forecasting: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshs.shtml

Hurricane Glossary


Advisory messages are issued by the national Hurricane Center, giving information on all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes at midnight, 6 am, 12 noon, and 6 p.m. These adversaries are supplemented at 3-hour intervals when landfall is likely within 24 hours.


A tropical storm is similar, but smaller than a hurricane. Winds associated with these storms are less than 74 mph, but can still cause widespread damage and flooding. Tropical storm watches are made for specific coastal areas where tropical storm conditions pose possible threats within 36 hours.


This warning means that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds of 39-73 mph are expected in specific coastal areas within 24 hours.


These watches are made for specific coastal areas. These are NOT warnings. These watches mean that a hurricane is close enough for everyone to listen to advisories and be prepared to take precautionary measures. Watches are usually issued 24-36 hours prior to landfall.


This warning means that a hurricane is close enough to a specific coastal area that precautionary measures must be taken immediately. These warnings are usually issued 24 hours prior to landfall. However, if the hurricane's path is unusual, it may only be a few hours before landfall before the warning is issued.