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Disaster Preparation and Safety Tips

Believe it or not the 2009 hurricane season is upon us. Many of us are still recovering from Hurricane Gustav which wreaked havoc on the Louisiana and Texas less than one year ago. One lesson I learned personally during Gustav is that you can never be too prepared for a natural disaster and the more preparation you do the better. With that being said, I would like to share some very important information on topics such as hurricane safety tips, understanding hurricanes, staying at home or choosing to evacuate, family planning, supply kits and pet preparation. Hurricanes such as Katrina and Gustav most recently were deadly storms. Many, many lessons were learned from the mistakes made prior to, during and after Katrina. The preparation was much better for Gustav, but I think most will agree we still have work to do. Key Hurricane Safety Tips include:
  • Emergency telephone numbers should be posted close to land line telephones. For cell phones, put the emergency numbers on speed dial. These include fire, police, EMS, local shelters, hospitals, etc.
  • Each member of your family (over 3 years old) should be taught to and when to call 911.
  • Learn and teach all family members how and when to turn off utilities such as gas, water and electricity
  • Review your home and automobile insurance and make sure you have adequate coverage
  • Learn how to use fire extinguishers and make sure all family members know how to use them and where in the house they are located.
  • Install smoke detectors within the home, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Learn CPR and First Aid from an accredited organization such as the Red Cross.
  • Escape routes to your home should be memorized.
  • Plan a location to meet family and friends should you become separated from us
Understanding the Severe Danger Posed by a Hurricane. Hurricanes can dump upwards of 15 inches of rainfall in a very short amount of time. This can lead to devastating flooding, this combined with storm surge can be lethal. Storm surge is responsible for the great majority of deaths from hurricanes. Most people I speak with don't quite understand what storm surge is. Think of it like this, have you ever watched a movie or sporting event about surfing? If you have, you remember seeing those huge rolling waves that the surfer attempts to ride into shore. Now think about a wave that is about 20 feet high and stretches 50 to 100 miles wide, this is a storm surge. The power and force associated with the surge is what everyone should be aware of prior to deciding to "ride out a large storm". The storm surge, not the wind, poses the greatest risk to life and property. Most experts recommend evacuating in the face of a hurricane, but for those individuals who are set in their ways and determined to stay preparation is crucial.
  • Know how to turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.
  • Post a set of instructions that can be easily followed by others by in the family
  • Fill your bathtub and large containers with water for sanitary purposes
  • Make sure you have a battery powered radio, flashlights, batteries, canned goods and non-electric can opener.
  • Remove objects from around your home that could become dangerous projectiles.
  • Put the refrigerator setting on the maximum cold and only open when necessary.
  • Freeze water to create ice. Keep adequate supplies on hand.
  • Board of the windows
Prepare a Family Disaster Kit You need to make sure that your disaster kit includes six basics. Water, food, clothing and bedding, first-aid supplies, emergency tools and supplies. All of these items should be kept in a waterproof container that can be easily transported from home to car to safe place. Your family's disaster supply kit should include at least a three to five day supply of: Water - One gallon per person per day Non-perishable food - ready to eat canned goods, meats, fruits and vegetables. Canned juices, high energy foods, and food for infants. Clothing and bedding - At least one change of clothing and footwear per person. Sturdy shoes, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags, hats and gloves and thermal underwear. First aid supplies - Get a basic first aid kit for home and one for your vehicle. Emergency supplies - Paper cup, plates, plastic utensils, radio with extra batteries, cash, fire extinguisher, tent, pliers, tape, compass, matches, aluminum foil, storage containers, signal flare, paper, pencil, medicine, personal alarm or loud whistle, sanitation supplies, and travel map/evacuation guide. I am pet lover and own two dogs. Both of my dogs are like family to us and it would be tragic if harm came to them because of lack of preparation. Your pets are helpless without you so take some time now to put a plan together. Make a Pet Emergency Supplies Kit:
  • Have an airline approved carrier or wire pet crate
  • Identification papers (picture of your pet, contact information, shot records)
  • Recommend micro-chipping with your local vet.
  • Pet medication
  • Beds and toys. This will help ease the stress.
Where To Take Pets First, check with your veterinarian, or kennel to check on the ability to shelter or board your pet there. Call the local Office for Emergency Preparedness Center to see if there are any pet friendly shelters. Find hotels/motels that allow pets. If You Have to leave Your Pet Behind If you have no choice but to leave your pet behind do the following:
  • Secure them in an upper level room with plenty of food and water.
  • Post stickers on all exterior windows to display the number of and location of your pets.
  • Never leave your animal chained up
  • ID your animal with information on a collar.
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