* Make sure that you have adequate insurance in force, including flood insurance if there’s any chance your property may flood due to heavy rainfall or storm surge. If you have any doubt as to whether you are covered for flood damage, check your policy. Also keep in mind most insurance companies cannot write new policies when a storm reaches a predetermined distance from your area, so plan ahead.
* Check your latest insurance renewal for changes in deductibles for hurricane damage. Keep all important papers and phone numbers in one easy to grab folder or waterproof ziplock bag should evacuation become necessary. Keep a list of approved shelters with your important papers.
* To protect your and your neighbor’s properties, plan to store lawn furniture and any other loose outside items indoors or tie down any item that may become airborne in high winds.
* Precut plywood to fit inside window sills and openings to your house and attach with brackets or tightly hammer in horizontal 2×4’s at a slight angle or have storm approved shutters installed in advance. Putting tape on windows has been proven to be a waste of time and will not protect your home. Never open or even crack a window during a hurricane.
* If the need to evacuate becomes apparent, try to make your decision 48 hours in advance of the storm and preplan your evacuation route, especially if you plan to head out of the local area. Be ready to move at least 36 hours before the forecast landfall of the hurricane, or when local or state officials issue evacuation orders.
* If you stay in the local area, make sure that your car is completely fueled. When the power is out, gas pumps do not work. Neither do ATM’s.
* Get plenty of cash in advance to have on hand until things return to normal. Remember this could take up to several weeks after a direct hurricane hit.
* If you decide to evacuate, consider staying with family or friends locally if their home is structurally sound (and not a mobile home), outside an evacuation area and is not threatened by possible flooding or nearby trees which could blow down into the structure.
* If your decision is to remain in your home, assemble and stock an Emergency Hurricane Supply Kit. Following are some of the most important items to include. This is not intended to be a complete list — your own circumstances may warrant additional specialized items:
* Water stored in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles is a necessity. A good rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person per day, with a minimum supply for five days. Fill a clean bathtub for a source of water to wash with. Clean and fill everything you can find; you can never have too much water. The hot water tank is another source that could be available if the water goes out. Remember that some of this is to drink, some of this is to clean yourself with and some of this is to fill the toilet tank when you need to flush it.
* Store at least a five-day supply of non-perishable food per person ahead of time. Remember to include special items you may need for a minimum of the same number of days such as baby food or pet food. If you have refrigerated or frozen food that you will need during the first few days that your power is out, put the food in an ice chest filled with ice. Plan to buy or make plenty of ice early and keep it on hand before the storm comes to the local area. Also freeze water in plastic soda bottles. These will help bagged ice last longer. When you have taken the items from the freezer and refrigerator, fill the freezer with ice, both bagged and frozen bottles. Then, do not open the refrigerator or freezer unless absolutely necessary. Use the food you placed in the ice chest. When the ice in the ice chest needs replacing (it should last at least 48 hours), remove the amount of ice you need from the freezer and use it. The extra ice remaining in the freezer will help keep it colder longer and the melted ice in the soda bottles makes good drinking water.
* If you must heat food, stock up on cans of sterno. Some area hunting and outdoors stores may carry various self-heating meals such as Hot Pack or HeaterMeals. Otherwise, after the storm, do your cooking outside if possible. Never use a grill indoors or in a garage. Select foods that are compact and lightweight. Some examples include ready to eat canned meats, tuna, stews, canned spaghetti, fruits, veggies, canned juices and soup. If you do have frozen food that starts to thaw, fire up the grill and cook it. Share it with neighbors if it’s more than you and your family can eat. This way, it won’t go to waste and neighbors can share.
* A well stocked First Aid Kit is a necessity including any prescription medicines, latex gloves, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, Neosporin and cleansing agent or soap.
* You should also have on hand a variety of tools and other supplies, including a battery operated radio and lots of extra batteries. Listen to Your Country 102.7 WXBM for the latest information on storm location, shelters, traffic conditions and other emergency information.
* Also make sure that you have a supply of flashlights and batteries (one flashlight per person), candles and matches, a manual can opener, cash or travelers checks, a supply of change, barbecue grill or Coleman stove with extra fuel or charcoal. Always keep lighted candles away from curtains or beds and never go to sleep with them still burning.
*Depending on the storm, expect your power to be out for days or even weeks. Turn off all your circuit breakers at the box if possible as soon as power goes out, especially the breaker to your air conditioner and other appliances. Leave one breaker on, perhaps on a hall light circuit, so you’ll know when the power comes back on. Otherwise, when power is restored, it can send dirty voltage down the line and damage your appliances! (Then you STILL won’t have air conditioning.) Resist temptation and wait 30 to 60 minutes before turning your breakers back on. Never plug a generator directly into you home’s wiring.
* You may also need plastic trash bags with ties, paper towels, toilet paper, paper and pencils and household chlorine bleach, as well as books, games and puzzles to help pass the time. Again, this is not intended to be a complete list — your own circumstances may warrant additional specialized items.
If you have never experienced the aftermath of a hurricane, approach your emergency supplies as if you were going camping. Ask yourself what you would need on a daily basis if there were no power and no running water.