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How do I prepare for a hurricane?

Ben Steelman

Before a hurricane threatens:

* Know how high your home is above sea level. (Your county Emergency Management office should have this information.) Find out if your neighborhood is subject to storm-surge flooding.

* Learn your local evacuation routes and plan your escape early.

* Know the location of the nearest official shelter. (Emergency Managment will have this information.)

* Know how to contact family members if the need arises.

* Be ready to relocate fast if you live near the seashore or if you live in a mobile home.

* Inventory your personal property in advance; it will help with insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for storm losses. Keep written descriptions and take photos. Store this information, with insurance papers, in a waterproof container or in a safety deposit box.

When a hurricane watch is issued:

* Monitor storm reports on radio and television.

* Make arrangements for all pets — they are not allowed in shelters.

* Even if an evacuation has not yet been called, consider leaving early to avoid traffic jams on limited evacuation routes.

* Keep a radio with extra batteries. Have enough batteries for several days; it may be a long while before electric power is restored.

* Keep flashlights, candles or lamps and matches. Store matches in waterproof containers.

* Keep a full tank of gasoline in your car. Fill up as soon as a hurricane watch is posted. Remember, when there is no electricity, gas pumps won’t work.

* Make sure you have some cash. Remember, without electricity, ATMs won’t work either.

* Store up on non-perishable foods, especially packaged foods that be prepared without cooking and require no refrigeration. Make sure you have a manual can opener.

* Keep containers for drinking water — clean, airtight containers — with enough water to last several days. Local water supplies could be contaminated.

* Store materials to protest your windows: shutters, plywood or lumber to nail over windows or doors. Masking tape can be used on small windows, but it does not always protect against flying shards. Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from lifting from their tracks.

* Turn your refigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. Open doors only when necessary.

When a hurricane warning is issued:

* Listen to your radio or television for bulletins.

* Leave your mobile home immediately. It will not be safe in hurricane-force winds.

* Prepare for high winds. Bring garbage cans, garden tools, toys and other loose objects inside or anchor them securely. These could become dangerous missiles in high winds.

* Board up or shutter large windows securely. Draw drapes across large windows and doors to protect against flying glass in case these shatter.

* Secure your boat. Move small boats onto trailers, lash them securely or use tie-downs. Fill the hulls of small boats with water to weigh them down.

* Store valuables and important papers in waterproof containers. If you cannot take them with you when you evacuate, store these in the highest possible spot.

If you stay at home through a hurricane, stay indoors. Keep to inside rooms, away from doors, skylights or windows. Fill bathtubs with water that will not be used for drinking. Don’t be tempted to go outside during the brief calm during the passage of the “eye” of the storm. This lull can end suddenly.

If you must evacuate:

* Know where you are going, and leave early.

* Be prepared. Bring blankets or sleeping bags, flashlights, special dietary foods, infant needs and lightweight folding chairs. Register every person arriving with you at the shelter.

* Don’t travel farther than necessary. Roads may be jammed. Remember, most deaths in recent hurricanes occurred when cars or trucks were swept from the road by floodwaters. Water can be deeper than it appears, and water can rise quickly. If your car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground.

* Lock windows and doors. Turn off gas, water and electricity.

* Carry along survival supplies, incolduing a first-aid kit, canned or dried food, a can opener, bottled water, warm protective clothing, prescription medications, spare eyeglasses and, if required, a hearing aid with spare batteries.

After the hurricane:

* If you are evacuated, delay your return until authorized by officials.

* Watch out for loose or dangling power lines, which pose a threat of electrocution. Walk or drive cautiously to avoid debris in streets. Snakes and poisonous insects may pose a hazard.

* Do not drive on flooded roads. Washouts may have weakened pavement and bridges.

* Guard against spoiled food. Food may spoil if refrigerator power is off for more than a few hours. Freezers will keep food for days if doors are not open after a power failure, but do not try to re-freeze food once it begins to thaw.

* Do not use water until it is safe. Boil water (other than emergency supplies) before drinking, until officials give word that it is safe. Report broken waster or sewer lines.

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3 Responses to “ How do I prepare for a hurricane?”

  1. On September 1, 2010 at 9:35 am Mary Bridges wrote:

    Great article……I forgot about batteries for the radio. Yikes!

  2. On August 24, 2011 at 10:57 am Chris Brown wrote:

    New Hanover County does have shelters where pets are welcome. The pet owner is required to stay at the shelter with the pet(s).

  3. On August 25, 2011 at 10:19 am Jim Ware wrote:

    This story published Aug. 24, 2011, offers tips on how to prepare for tropical storms or hurricanes when you have pets: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20110824/ARTICLES/110829852

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