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Know the storm surge history and elevation of your area. Learn location of shelters. Review needs and working condition of emergency equipment, such as flashlights, battery-powered radios, etc. Place these in a location you can find in the dark, safely.
Ensure that enough non-perishable food and water supplies are on hand to last for at least two weeks.
Obtain and store materials, such as plywood and plastic necessary to properly secure your home.
Check home for loose and clogged rain gutters and down spouts.
Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall or bump against the house. When trimming, try to create a channel through the foliage to the center of the tree to allow for air flow.
Determine a safe location to move your boat.
Review your insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage.
Review and Update Your Insurance
Before a hurricane threatens, insurance industry representatives suggest that you do the following:
Read your policy to see exactly what coverage you have.
If you don't understand the policy, get your agent to explain it.
Find out whether you have "guaranteed replacement cost" insurance which is what it would really cost to replace your home and the contents at current value. Or you may have "actual cash value" which is depreciated cost. Be aware that your homeowner's policy does not usually cover flood damage.
Also find out if the policy covers sewer backup and wind damage.
Know your insurance carrier and make sure that you have phone numbers for the company. Keep your policy in a safe place. If you rent, be aware that your landlord's insurance does not cover your possessions. You need your own renters' insurance.
Remember when a hurricane watch or warning is announced it is too late to enact insurance policies. If you are under-insured, you may not receive enough payment from the insurance company to replace what was damaged.
This hurricane season be prepared so storms will not take you by surprise. Some of these foods require hot water, but hopefully you have planned a way to heat water or food.
In anticipation of losing power and the use of your cooking gas, be sure your house is stocked with at least two week's worth of foods that will remain edible without refrigeration or foods that will be consumed when opened. They could include the following:
o Cereals and breakfast barsSome cheeses and fruits keep at room temperatures for several days. Choose foods that can be eaten at room temperature and do not require cooking. Many foods such as pickles, ketchup, mustard will keep without refrigeration.
Keep a manual can opener with these supplies.
Keep on hand supplies such as paper plates, cups and plastic utensils, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, large plastic garbage bags, tin foil.
Canned foods can be heated in the can but be sure to remove the label first. They can be eaten right out of the can.
What is edible? Be very careful about eating foods normally kept in a refrigerator. However, with care some can be used soon after the power goes off. Meats, fish and dairy products usually spoil first. Be especially careful about using meats as there is no way to tell if it is still good or not. Milk spoils quickly but many cheeses keep several days without a problem. Juices, butter, margarine and fruit juices will keep for a few days.
o Battery-operated AM/FM radio with extra batteries
Last Minute Preparations
o Put your car on high ground in a place where you can get to it after the storm.
It is important that you protect important documents. If you have a scanner, scan all these documents and keep them on a thumb drive or stick drive. Keep them in a water- proof plastic bag and keep the bag in your possession. Some of them can be left in a safety deposit box in a bank.
o Birth certificates and passports
Here are more tips. Keep your car and boat gas tanks full. For boaters have a supply of 50/1 oil. Plan where you will keep your car during a storm. It needs to be high to keep it from being flooded. But it also needs to be where you can access it after the storm is past. Persons with a chain saw should ensure that the saw is operational and that a gallon of fuel is on hand. B If you have a standby generator, check to see that it is operational and that you have a supply of fuel and oil. Make arrangements for taking down any antennas on your roof. Find out where the hurricane shelters are in your community. See that your LP tank is filled if you use gas appliances.
Do not forget:
o First aid kit
Protect Your Pets
If you have pets, remember you have a responsibility to care for them properly. Plan for a safe place for pets to stay during a storm. They should not be left outdoors. Never leave your animals behind to fend for themselves. Never tie animals up or leave them con- fined in any way, as they will be trapped and unable to flee rising flood waters. Know your destination ahead of time. Shelters refuse animals so if you plan to go to a shelter, make plans what to do with your dog, cat, bird or other animals. Many small animals feel secure in carriers. Get them used to being in the carrier at night or other times so they will be comfortable in it. Keep larger dogs leashed as they can become frightened with the strange sounds and unfamiliar surroundings during a storm. Provide water and food along with your animal's favorite toy or blanket, a towel, and keep on hand enough food for at least a week. Ensure you have enough cat litter, trash bags, etc. Put legible identification tags on your pets. Watch for other animals in need, including strays and animals left behind by neighbors. If you see an animal in distress and are unable to help, note the animal's condition and location and call authorities or someone from a humane society for help as soon as possible.
Water Supply ls Critical
Have bottled water and extra water in clean containers enough for one week, allowing one gallon of water per person per day. If you use a bath tub or other container for water, clean thoroughly and rinse with bleach. Caulk the drain of a tub so it will not leak; This water can be used for a variety of purposes. Large NEW garbage cans can be filled with water.
Senior citizens are especially susceptible to the effects of severe weather. Those who live alone or are without the support of family or friends must take special precautions in the event of an emergency. People who are frail or disabled may need special assistance from family members, friends or social service agencies. Older adults who are also care givers may require outside assistance. If the elderly requires any medical equipment, arrangements should be made well before a storm for emergency service.
Gas or diesel-powered generators can provide temporary power until electricity can be restored. Be sure to have fuel and oil on hand for the generator. Fuel which will be stored must be treated with a preservative such as STA-BIL. See this for MORE on fuel degradation in storage.
Remember several precautions.
o Do not connect a portable generator to the building wiring. Plug appliances directly into the generator.
Protect Your Property
Protect your property the best you can. Remember that wind and water are potentially two very dangerous elements of any storm and your goal is to keep both these out of your house. Most damage to homes occurs when a window gets broken or doors blow in, allowing the wind to blow through.
o Check your roof for loose shingles or tiles and make sure they are securely fastened down. Check for other repairs that need to be done.
Get Necessary Supplies
Buy supplies early at the beginning of the season. These should include a battery-op- erated AM/FM radio with extra batteries, one flashlight with extra batteries for each person in your family, candles, kerosene lamps, water-proof matches, first aid kit. Be very careful with kerosene lamps and candles during a storm. lf the wind blows something over with a flame, it could start a fire. You do not need to contend with a fire during a storm. Get your supplies early to avoid a rush and crowded stores just prior to a storm. Also remember that stores could run out of essential supplies that you may want.
Saving your computer files
If there is any chance that your computer may be damaged during or after a hurricane, now is the time to save critical files. For saving emai1 messages and contacts some programs provide the ability to transport files for storage. Export files you want to a thumb drive or portable storage drive. If you use a financial program like Quckbooks, make backups of your data that you can keep with you. You may want to keep the installation disks and license codes with you also. Make sure you put all disks and drives in watertight plastic bins or bags. Some people keep their tiles on a portable hard drive with a USB connector that can be plugged into any computer. Or a person could keep identical data on a computer at work as well as one at home. Thumb drives with USB connectors, also called Hash drives or smart drives, can be purchased with several gigabytes of memory. These are an easy way for individuals to backup files to be carried with them. They can be plugged into any newer computer. It is better to plan now to save important files than to try to deal with problems after a storm.
Storm Tips for Boaters
Secure your boat before a storm is close, either by hauling it up on land or if you leave your boat in the water, finding a secure place. All loose items should be removed or well secured. This would include cushions and removable canvass. Sails should be removed if possible. When this is not possible, they should be well lashed to the boom and the boom secured. A boat on a trailer should be placed flat on the ground, lashed down and half filled with water. The trailer should also be lashed down. The outboard engine and gas tanks should be removed and secured. Boats, even large ones, should be hauled in a boatyard when possible. Although damage can still occur, at least they do not sink. Arrange early to have your boat hauled as the boat yards are very busy with many boat owners wanting their boats hauled at the last minute. Boats in storage should be well blocked and stands checked carefully. In heavy rain and wind, jack stands can be pushed into soft ground allowing the boat to rock and eventually fall over. Stands should be tied so they cannot blow over if the boat. When the boat rocks the other way, it will fall on its bilges.
If you leave your boat in the water, the best place is to tie it securely in mangroves.
This will require that you use long spring lines, leaving all lines with plenty of slack.
Keep in mind that the storm surge can either be several feet higher or several feet lower than normal tide levels, even on the mainland. Do not be caught struggling with your boat when hurricane force winds are already approaching. Another option for large boats is to tie them off in a canal, run them into mangrove creeks and tie them to as many different trees, mangroves or piling as possible. Every available rope should be used. Rope left in a locker is not offering any security. Every anchor with a rode attached, either chain or rope, should be deployed. This needs to be done early as there are not enough creeks and canals to hold all the boats looking for space. If you live on your boat, you are urged to get to a shelter. It is not safe to remain on your boat during a hurricane. Your life is more important that the safety of your boat. Make sure you have a secure supply of gas and oil for your boat after the hurricane is past if you are dependent on a boat for transportation.
No one ever knows when another hurricane will affect us. However, it could happen any year and the best way to ride out a storm is to be prepared. The better you are prepared, the better chances you have of coming through with minimum damage and the better you can cope with the problems afterwards. Make the decision ahead of time as to where you plan to be during a storm. If your house is on low land or you feel it is not built securely, make plans to stay with friends or family in a well built home or go to a shelter. Decide what room in your house you will use during the hurricane. It is best if you have an inside room with no windows. Put basic supplies in that room along with comfortable seating including pillows. If you have children, include games or other toys to entertain them. If you have elderly relatives, make sure they are somewhere safe and that someone is with them who can help them during the storm and afterwards.
Children need special reassurances. It is good to talk with them about their fears and answer their questions honestly. Give lots of verbal reassurances. Gather clothing, bedding, toiletries and flashlights that you will need for the duration of the storm. Have a battery-operated radio with fresh batteries. If you have a VHF radio, make sure it has its own power supply. Make sure each person has sturdy shoes for protection after the storm for protection from debris.
A Note to Gardeners: Salt in the atmosphere from a hurricane can quickly poison grass, shrubs, trees and decorative plants that are not tolerant of it. Hose down plants right away after exposure to salt if you have water pressure. This could save valuable decorative plants.
Check to make sure that important items are raised up off the floor. Simple glass bricks available at Home Depot or Lowes can provide an 8" clearance and are impervious to water.
Make certain that the vehicle you would use to evacuate is in good condition. People trying to get out of New Orleans sat in traffic for 17 hours, and many of them discovered that relatively minor problems eventually caused complete breakdowns, and that's not the time to be stranded.
Leaving food in your refrigerator? Folks returning home have found that when those foods spoiled, they destroyed the appliance. They suggest that you place everything in sealable plastic tubs like Tupperware or in sealed plastic bags, such as small garbage bags. This way, if the foods spoil, they will not contaminate the unit, and they can be easily removed to dispose of. Another suggestion was to include a pitcher filled with ice cubes in the freezer. Upon return, a quick look at this pitcher will yield some valuable information. If it is a solid block of ice, you will know that your freezer completely defrosted, and nothing will have survived. If there are still some cubes, you will know that power was not off for an extended period, and some food may still be good.
Added by user Budster :
Generators: When preparing for a storm, I would suggest picking up a few containers of oil for the long haul. I have heard many people have problems with generators breaking down. From what I understand, after about 5 days running it non stop, the oil should be changed. A failed generator in a time like this could be miserable.
I have heard people hooking up their generator to the meter box to run the entire house. Very Dangerous!! This places a back surge into the "probable dead lines" for a utility worker to get injured! Don't do it!
Living through a power outage kind of robs all of the technology we are use to... It all comes down to a radio, a candle and a hurricane tracking chart. No one ever think thinks of charcoal and lighter fluid... BBQ some of that stuff in the freezer before it all goes bad!
Medications: Make contact with your doctor and make sure you are stocked up on your meds before the storm hits. Its could be days or weeks before you can get meds again. This has been a huge problem down here.
Cleaning or not cleaning your yard after the storm... I hate this part and will do anything and everything to avoid this work until I have air conditioner accompanied with a hot bath... Well, here's the answer... You want power right? ASAP?? Well, clean up areas to give room for utilities to get their trucks in and out. Not near the poles but at least 20 feet from the poles.
Cell Phones: Very hard to make contact with anyone... I found the best way is text messaging.. But sometimes that is difficult.. I heard about this and tried it and this works! Every once in a while, send a text message to yourself. By doing this, it helps getting incoming messages. Its simple, I just sent the letter "T" (for test) to my own cell phone, it bounced right back and picked up 6 other messages I been waiting for.