DEP Encourages Safely Securing Hazardous Materials Before a Hurricane

With hurricane season officially starting today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection encourages residents and businesses to make sure that hazardous materials are properly secured and stored in case a storm approaches their area.

“The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season has already been active, so Floridians should note that securing hazardous materials before a severe storm is important not only for the safety of people, but also for the environment,” said Gwen Keenan, Chief of DEP’s Bureau of Emergency Response. “By securely storing or properly disposing of chemicals and waste, you can limit the damage to Florida’s natural resources.”

DEP’s Bureau of Emergency Response responds to pollution threats in any form statewide. Bureau staff are trained to respond to events that include petroleum and hazardous material spills, explosions and also damage from hurricanes, providing technical and on-site assistance to clean up spills that can do harm to human safety and the environment.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season officially runs today until November 30 and Floridians should be prepared for all possibilities. This includes storing adequate water, gasoline and non-perishable foods. Other hurricane preparedness tips are provided by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

“Even though hurricane season officially begins today, two tropical systems before the start of hurricane demonstrate how important preparedness is to every one of Florida’s citizens and businesses,” said DEM Director Bryan W. Koon. “Preparing for the worst before a storm is essential in mitigating the damaging impacts of a potential tropical storm or hurricane.”

Before a tropical storm or hurricane impacts the area, Floridians should also take steps to protect the environment, ensure public safety and limit homeowner or business owner liability by ensuring hazardous materials aren’t allowed to seep into the environment.

Safely store hazardous materials: If potentially hazardous materials are left unsecured or are secured in a low-lying area that can be exposed if it lies in a flood zone, this could create environmental or safety hazards during a powerful storm. Hazardous materials left near windows can easily become exposed as well. Placing materials on secured shelving can limit the likelihood of spillage. These materials should be stored in accordance with manufacturer’s directions as well as state or federal regulations.

Dispose of hazardous materials properly: Another way to protect the environment is to dispose of excess or expired hazardous material appropriately. Material may be disposed of according to manufacturer’s guidelines on the container or at a county household hazardous waster facility. Attention to hazardous materials before a storm arrives can help protect your family, property and Florida’s environmental after the storm passes. Visit DEP’s Hazardous Waste website to find a facility near you and to get information about disposing of waste.

Some materials that should be stored away securely:

-Paints and pesticides

-Waste containers

-Chlorine cylinders from swimming pools

-Compressed gases

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