One of the most destructive natural hazards in Florida is the tropical cyclone. These moving low pressure center systems generally form in the tropics and are noted for their counter-clockwise wind rotation accompanied by significant precipitation. Tropical cyclones with sustained wind speeds greater than 38 mph are assigned names by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center. Those with internal winds ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph are considered “tropical storms”; those with sustained winds above 74 mph at the “eye” are “hurricanes”.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground or can be a spin-off of a hurricane. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Florida’s deadliest tornadoes usually occur in spring, and Florida is the state which experiences the most number of tornadoes per square mile.
Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community. Flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes or without any visible signs of rain. According to the National Hurricane Center, inland flooding has been responsible for half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the last 30 years. Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam.
The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of thirty minutes. Florida has more thunderstorms and lightning strikes each year than anywhere else in the United States. Florida also leads the nation in deaths and injuries from lightning, averaging 10 deaths and 30 injuries each year. Although all thunderstorms are dangerous, produce lightning, and can be lethal, about 10% produce dangerous winds or hail that will likely exceed thresholds known to cause bodily harm or significant damage to well-built structures. These are known as severe thunderstorms.
Wildland fires are usually signaled by dense smoke that fills the area for miles around. Fires can be ignited by various phenomena, such as lightning, burning without a permit, and arson. Florida’s typical fire season lasts January through May. The most at risk portions of the county are the urban interface and rural areas. Fires can also cause significant losses and destruction for timber interests in Nassau County.
Beach hazards are important to be aware of when you plan your day in the sun. Riptides, severe weather, sun exposure, and wildlife are all hazards that can cause a day at the beach to turn into an unpleasant or life-threatening experience. Educate yourself on each of these hazards, know your beach flag warnings, and swim with a lifeguard!
Illnesses caused by a micro-organism and transferable to new individuals are “infectious”. Other terms you might hear to describe these diseases are “contagious” or “communicable”. There are many ways that infectious diseases may be spread, such as person-to-person, by animal contact, through food you eat, or by biting insects, and many have the potential to create a serious public health emergency.
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. During a pandemic, social isolation should be practiced and always follow the directions of local authorities.
Nassau County can experience a wide range of temperatures, from
dangerously hot to dangerously cold. It is important for everyone to know how to stay safe during these periods of temperature extremes. During the summer months (May through September), Nassau County can experience conditions of extreme heat and high humidity. Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. There are three different types of heat emergency: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Hazardous material incidents are intentional and/or unintentional releases of a material that, because of their chemical, physical, or biological nature; pose a potential risk to life, health, environment or property. Each incident’s impact and resulting response depends on a multitude of interrelated variables that range from the quantity and specific characteristic of the material to the conditions of the release and area/population centers involved. You probably use many household chemical products in and around your home and garage. These products may include cleaning liquids and powders, polishes, drain cleaners, paint thinners, and windshield washer fluids. These types of products can be dangerous and cause burns, fires, poisonings and explosions.