Pandemic and Infectious Diseases
Because Miami Beach is an international destination, our city and local health officials have incorporated preparation and response activity for health threats such as disease outbreaks.
- The best way to prepare for this and for any other public emergency is to have a plan as you would for any threat: A plan, a kit and strategy for obtaining information will help public safety and health professionals to best help you.
- Practice good health habits, including eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and getting sufficient rest. Take these common-sense steps to stop the spread of germs:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues.
- Stay away from others as much as possible if you are sick.
For the most up-to-date information on current outbreaks affecting our area, log on to the
Temperatures in our area can rise to sweltering levels at any time during the year. Climate conditions are such that we could experience a heat wave – an extended period of extreme heat that could be dangerous and life-threatening without proper precautions.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
- Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. (Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.)
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
Fight the Bite - Tips for Mosquito Season
The City of Miami Beach encourages everyone to take the basic steps to limit exposure to mosquitoes during the summer by following these recommendations:
Practice the "Five Ds"
- Dusk and Dawn - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are very active.
- Dress - wear light clothing that covers most of your skin.
- DEET - repellents containing up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) are recommended, as they are most effective.
Other effective mosquito repellents that are EPA-approved include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR 3535. Always read label directions for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
- Drainage - check around your home to remove standing water. It only takes a cap full of water to allow a mosquito to lay eggs.
Always Remember to Drain and Cover
- Check your property and ensure there is no standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
- Replace water in birdbaths and pet or other animal feeding dishes frequently.
- Change water in plant trays -- including hanging plants -- frequently.
- Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.
- Pay attention to bromeliads. They are beautiful but provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Turn over or remove empty plastic pots.
- Clean out eaves, troughs, and gutters.
- Remove old tires or drill holes to drain those used in playgrounds.
- Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
- Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water.
- Pump out bilges on boats.
- Cover your doors and windows with screens.
- Cover yourself with loose, light-colored clothing, shoes, and socks.
- Protect infants with mosquito netting over strollers.
Dangers of Thunder & Lightning
Lightning is one of nature’s deadliest and most unpredictable phenomena. Meteorologists can accurately forecast the general conditions that will cause lightning, but no one knows for sure exactly where and when a lightning bolt will strike.
According to the National Weather Service, since 1959, the three southeast Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach have experienced a combined 94 lightning deaths, the most of any three contiguous counties in the United States. This includes 35 deaths in Miami-Dade County, 32 in Broward County, and 27 in Palm Beach County.
During any given year, lightning kills an average of two people in South Florida, with an additional nine people injured. The total number of South Florida lightning casualties reported in 2009 is very close to the yearly average, with two deaths and five injuries attributed to lightning. An estimated $154,000 in damage was caused by lightning, mainly as a result of lightning directly striking homes and other buildings.
Ocean Rescue headquarters receives a warning alert via the telephone by WeatherBug. The automated system tells Ocean Rescue personnel the distance of lightning strikes from the location. Ocean Rescue personnel then issues a warning to their field personnel via the radio and the public at risk is notified and urged to seek shelter.
Parks and Recreation personnel receive a warning alert via the telephone by WeatherBug, when lightning is approximately six miles out. The alert is sent to staffed parks, youth centers, and all pools. Parks and Recreation staff (via phone tree) call around and inform other staff of the lightning warnings. Parks and Recreation personnel clear out all pools, and all programs from fields and playgrounds until they receive the “all clear” notification call from WeatherBug.
It only strikes when dark clouds are directly overhead. Several cases in the past few years have proven this to be false.
Lightning commonly strikes several miles away from the heavy rain area of the thunderstorm, and in some cases can strike up to 10 miles away or more! This type of lightning is misleadingly referred to as “dry lightning” or “bolts from the blue,” but they actually originate from the side of a thunderstorm cloud and are just as deadly as those that occur in the middle of a heavy downpour. Therefore, the greatest danger often comes with the first or last flash because that’s when people least expect lightning to strike.
Recent studies have shown that teenage boys are the most likely group to be killed by lightning in Florida. The age group from 10 to 19 years of age has the greatest number of deaths, followed by those in their 30s and 20s. The number of 10 to 19-year-old lightning deaths is greater than the number of lightning deaths of those 40 and older.
When you see lightning or hear thunder, head to the nearest safe building. The inside of a vehicle can also be used as a place of shelter only if there are no buildings nearby. Darkening clouds are usually the first sign that lightning may strike nearby.
Although the National Weather Service does not issue specific lightning warnings, products such as the Hazardous Weather Outlook and the Surf Forecast describe the daily lightning danger in South Florida on a scale ranging from none to slight, to moderate to high. When a storm producing excessive lightning is observed or is imminent, a special weather statement is issued to alert of its location. Checking these products before venturing outside can make the difference between life and death.
Remember, any thunderstorm can produce a lightning flash which can kill you and those nearby. Some locations are more dangerous than others. The greatest numbers of people in Florida are struck while near a body of water. Many others are struck while standing under trees. Another vulnerable location is an open area with few trees such as a ball field, playground, or golf course. School-related activities also rate high in lightning vulnerability. These include walking to and from school and after-school events
A large number of high-rise buildings in South Florida also puts construction workers and even residents on upper floors at a greater risk since tall objects are struck by lightning much more frequently than objects close to the ground.
Tornadoes & Thunderstoms
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are more frequent in South Florida than most people realize. According to the National Weather Service, Since 1996, South Florida has averaged 11 reported tornadoes per year, and since 1950 a total of 154 tornadoes of EF-1 or EF-2 intensity on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (winds greater than 85 mph) have occurred. South Florida tornadoes occur with a variety of weather systems:
- strong winter/spring cold fronts;
- waterspouts moving onshore;
- and tornadoes embedded in the outer rain bands of tropical storms and hurricanes.
The relatively small and short-lived nature of most South Florida tornadoes means that it is very difficult to give plenty of advance warning. In many cases, only a few minutes of warning are given between the time a warning is issued by the national weather service and the tornado touchdown. Nevertheless, even a few minutes of warning can make the difference between life and death. Having an NOAA Weather Radio is a critical component of the warning system. Having a weather radio available to alert of an approaching tornado has saved lives. When a tornado threatens your area, stay inside and go to an interior room without windows. In a multi-story building, go to the lowest floor.
What to do if a tornado threatens
Upon determination of the threat of a tornado, either "take shelter" or "duck and cover," depending on available space. When a tornado or severe thunderstorm has been detected either through National Weather Service Doppler weather radar or a trained SYWARN ™ storm spotter, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Miami will issue a warning. Warnings are communicated directly from the National Weather Service 24 hours a day, seven days a week through NOAA All Hazards Radio, through the internet at www.weather.gov/southFlorida, and through local media by way of the emergency alert system.
If you or your business does not have a severe weather preparedness plan, contact Emergency Management at 305.673.7736 or the National Weather Service for assistance.
You can be a "Storm Spotter"
Members of the City of Miami Beach CERT Team train to be SYWARN ™ Storm Spotters and help your neighbors and community. For more information, contact Miami Beach Emergency Management.