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How can I Prepare for a Hurricane?

It's important to have a manual can opener in case the hurricane knocks out power for an extended period of time.
Having a portable generator on handle to power important appliances, like a refrigerator, is one step of hurricane preparation.
Many homes in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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As many Americans discovered after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, it is vitally important to prepare for a hurricane well ahead of its landfall. By the time a strong Category 3, 4 or 5 storm strikes an area, there's very little anyone can do to prevent or minimize widespread damage. Surprisingly, much of the damage caused by a hurricane is caused by flooding, not by the high winds accompanying the initial storm. Preparing for a hurricane is like preparing for a tornado, a power failure and a major flood all at the same time.

One way to prepare for a hurricane is to generate two separate survival plans - one for evacuation and the other for remaining at home. You should purchase and stock enough supplies to make either plan workable withing a day's notice. Since a hurricane is a slow-moving weather event, most coastal areas have time to prepare for a hurricane's arrival. If the strength of the storm is sufficiently high and a direct hit is predicted, officials may issue a mandatory evacuation order for citizens living in the affected area.

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To prepare for a hurricane evacuation order, you should be aware of all shelter options available. You may need to move your family in with a relative or friend living outside the projected path of the hurricane. Since highways tend to become congested after a mandatory evacuation is ordered, it's best to make the trip as soon as you've secured your home. Be sure to pack a generous supply of self-contained foods and drinking water. Fill up your vehicle's gas tank at the first sign of potential weather trouble. Hotels tend to reach full capacity quickly, so make reservations sooner rather than later.

If you are planning to remain in your home during a Category 1 or 2 event, then you must prepare for a hurricane with a different mindset. Most homeowners use sheets of plywood to board up windows before the high winds arrive. A portable electric generator powered with gasoline is also a wise investment. If the power should fail after the hurricane has passed, you should be able to keep vital appliances such as refrigerators and medical equipment operating. A generous supply of drinking water and canned foods should also be kept on hand for the days after the storm.

When you prepare for a hurricane, you're preparing for the worst case scenario and hoping for the best case scenario. You may want to check on elderly or physically challenged neighbors to make sure they have a means of surviving or escaping the hurricane. Gather important documents and photographs and store them in waterproof containers. Make sure you have sufficient supplies of food and clean bedding for pets, since it may be several days before stores can reopen. Check the batteries in radios and flashlights and be sure to keep a set of replacement batteries for all devices.

Above all else, to prepare for a hurricane, watch the local and national television broadcasts for current information and forecasts. Do not rely solely on the opinions of seasoned neighbors, even if the conditions don't appear threatening at the moment. Hurricanes can change direction and intensity without warning, so prepare for a hurricane by becoming proactive with your survival plans. As survivors of major hurricanes can attest, defying an evacuation order can be the last poor decision you ever make.

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Discuss this Article

anon73109
Post 3

"A portable electric generator powered with gasoline is a also wise investment" but generators should never be used inside homes, garages or near windows. Following hurricanes, carbon monoxide poisonings from misplaced generators often result in injury or death.

anon51126
Post 2

There's cool new technology out there for emergency water storage (which is way more convenient than running around trying to find water when a hurricane is coming).

bprepared
Post 1

Catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, violent crimes, and terrorism are so common and routine that many of us have become numb to the tragic news stories. Without a heightened awareness, focused concern, and effective planning, we have lost the edge that can save lives. Be safe. Be prepared. Plan ahead for the unexpected. How will you protect your family?

Part of the solution is rooted in common sense, but much more depends upon effectively applying learned survival skills. Citizens need a helpful reference tool--a "Swiss army knife" for handling today's threats.

James (Jay) Schaefer-Jones

Author of "Preparing for the Worst: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Family from Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Other Catastrophes"

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