With the hurricane season officially underway, it is important residents have the information they need before, during and after any severe tropical system that affects the community. Hurricanes can bring hazards in many forms, and while Orange County is located inland, it is home to many lakes, which can also become hazardous before, during or after a storm.
With so many lakes in the Central Florida region, lake safety is particularly important during a hurricane. The runoff from heavy rains can carry pollutants and debris into the water, and may also cause temporary flooding. Lakes are also unprotected from flying debris.
Here are some lake safety tips to keep you and your family safe:
Before heading out on the water, check the local weather report so you are aware of any severe storm warnings. If a hurricane is threatening, save your lake plans for when the weather is more conducive to safe fun.
It is safest not to swim, fish or boat in a lake when water levels are high, which will most likely be the case both during and after a hurricane. Structures such as docks that used to be visible could be hidden just beneath the surface, and destroyed structures can become submerged floating hazards, both being a danger to boaters, skiers and wakeboarders. Also, boating when water levels are high may cause waves that damage property by eroding shoreline soils and possibly flood homes along the lakefront. Wildlife may also be pushed out of their natural habitats due to high waters, increasing chances for unexpected encounters.
Do not touch debris blocking a drainage structure, storm drain or retention pond.
“One of the great things about our region is the number of beautiful lakes our residents can enjoy, but it’s important to remember lake safety at all times, especially in the event of a hurricane,” said Jane Gregory, public information officer and program supervisor at Orange County Environmental Protection Division. “When you know a hurricane is approaching, stay off of lakes, and even after a storm leaves the area, it’s important to understand that storm dangers still exist, especially from high water levels, floating debris and possible flooding.”
To report drainage or lake concerns after severe weather, please call 3-1-1. For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, visit http://www.ocfl.net/storm.
Photo Caption: Lake Mann Pier is maintained by Orange County Parks and Recreation.