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By Corinne Abbott

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

– Benjamin Franklin

Hurricane season is upon us and quite often people neglect to appreciate the danger until the weathermen are calling for evacuations while the wind speed is strong enough to carry away lawn furniture. Preparing for such an event before it happens can save a lot of time, money, and possibly your life.

The National Weather Service maintains a website which is a great place to start if you wish to evaluate your level of preparedness for a hurricane. Among other recommendations, it is strongly suggested that at a minimum you take the following four steps:

First, determine if you are at risk. You can find out if you are at risk by visiting the Flood Smart Government Portal. You can also contact your local emergency management office located in your town or county.

Second, figure out where you should go for safety. Do not wait until you are experiencing wind speeds equivalent to that depicted in the Wizard of Oz. Staying with friends or family that are located outside of the emergency zone may be the best course of action. If you do not have friends or family to stay with, there are emergency shelters that you can visit or hotel rooms that can be rented outside of the emergency zone.

Third, if you decide to stay in your home during a hurricane, regardless of whether you are in a danger zone, you need to plan ahead for the possible loss of power, telephone, or of the ability to heat your home. The National Weather Service suggests you have the following items on hand:

  • A flashlight with extra batteries;
  • Three days of non-perishable food supplies. Non-perishable food is food that does not decay without refrigeration. Examples include canned soup, peanut butter, nuts and crackers;
  • Water. One gallon per person, per day;
  • A whistle in case of an emergency rescue situation;
  • Wet wipes and plastic bags;
  • A wrench to turn utility switches if necessary;
  • A first aid kit;
  • A manual can opener;
  • A fully charged cell phone;
  • Refills of needed prescriptions (if applicable);
  • A dust mask for situations where a flood stirs up harmful mold; and
  • Blankets.

Fourth, if you did in fact decide to evacuate from your home, do not go back until it has been declared safe. After a storm, power outages, downed power lines, and toxic leakages can create an unsafe environment. It is better to delay your return until all matters have been resolved and authorities declare it safe to return.

As always, if you have pets, do not forget to include them in your plans. Be sure to account for them when thinking of food, water, and evacuation plans.

Be prepared. Be safe.