Response to Natural Disasters

Response to Natural Disasters



Before: How to Plan

  • Conduct tornado drills each year.
  • Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat. Consider having a mattress or blankets there for extra protection.
  • Discuss with family members the difference between “tornado watch” and “tornado warning”.

Develop an Emergency Communication Plan

In case family members are separated from one another during a tornado, have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as a “family contact”. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone
in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.

Tornado Danger Signs

  • An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel cloud is not visible.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Tornado Sirens

The City of Winter Park operates an Outdoor Tornado Siren Warning System as part of a comprehensive approach towards mass alerting for tornado severe weather events. Activated for a TORNADO WARNING issued for Orange County and directly threatening the Winter Park community. The siren system will provide a three-minute alert and will not include an “all clear” siren tone.



Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan

  • Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate.
  • Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your area. You may need to take alternate or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • A minimum of 3 gallons of water per person.
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding/sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so.

Prepare for High Winds

  • Install hurricane shutters or purchase precut 1/2″ outdoor plywood boards for each window of your home.
  • Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so that wind can blow through.
  • Subscribe to free email and text message alerts through Winter Park Police OUTREACH Emergency Alert System and other local media news service providers.

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Tips and suggestions provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For more information on the issues addressed in this informational pamphlet, visit

Download a PDF version of this information

Also visit the Emergency Incidents page on the city website.

Our Vision

Winter Park is the city of arts and culture, cherishing its traditional scale and charm while building a healthy and sustainable future for all generations.