As Hurricane Irene, now a Category 3 storm, lurches up the East Coast, it's important to make and follow a disaster survival/preparation plan, including having an evacuation strategy.
In addition to flooding, keep in mind that in hurricanes bring high winds, making loose objects that can fly free a major potential source of death, injury, and property damage.
12 Survival Tips
That said, here's a hurricane survival preparation list:
1. Make sure all loose objects -- lawn chairs, kids' toys, planters, garbage cans, and tools, are taken inside. Keep in mind that even a small object like a kid's rubber ball in a 70 mile per hour wind can become a dangerous, harmful projectile.
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2. Make sure you have at least one portable AM/FM radio -- battery operated or even better, a crank-charge radio. If power fails, that and your cell phone may very well be your only electronic communication to the outside world, and to public authorities with emergency info. Stay tuned to T.V./radio/Internet for instructions from local/state/national public officials and to keep abreast of storm conditions.
3. Regarding the cell phone: if you haven't already -- buy a cell phone charger that you can plug in to your car's cigarette lighter. If your car is far from the house, obviously don't go outside in hurricane-force winds, but if your garage/car is close, the car cigarette lighter will serve as an essential charger for the cell phone battery when it runs low and if electrical power is disrupted.
4. Check on the elderly, relatives, and other people you care about: it's better for them to be with you, so you can help them, if they can't be evacuated to a safer place, farther away from the hurricane zone.
5. Assemble a disaster preparedness kit, including non-perishable food, a can opener, bottled water, and medications. Also: prepare a first-aid kit for cuts, bruises.
6. Draw up an evacuation plan if conditions look like they could get severe in your area: know which roads you will take and what will be the back-up route if the first option becomes flooded/impassable.
7. Expect the electric power to be disrupted: hence, you should have food, water, and other essential items that are non-perishable and ready-to-eat.
8. Have an ample supply of cash on hand: if the power fails, the ATM network won't work and merchants may not take debit/credit cards or print checks. Almost all merchants will, of course, take cash.
9. Use your cell phone sparingly for two reasons: 1) preserve your battery life and 2) keep the cell phone network(s) from being over burdened so that more-important calls can go through.
10. If you have teens/younger teen kids, they undoubtedly will be on the Internet, or playing video games or texting. Tell them to limit their texts -- again, so that the network doesn't get clogged. It's a good time for the kids to get acquainted with old fashion board games: most don't need electricity.
11. Obviously, don't go out in the storm -- unless you are forced to evacuate. And if you do go out, be on the lookout for downed power lines and weakened trees. While inside, stay away from windows and doors -- anything that may shatter, fall, or become a projectile during a severe wind.
12. Finally, but not least important: have a pet plan. You have to determine which temporary shelter to place the pet(s) in now, if there is a strong chance that you will need to evacuate your home. Trying to obtain alternate shelter for your pet(s) after the storm starts isn't feasible. Keep in mind that many deaths from Hurricane Katrina stemmed from people who wanted to evacuate, but didn't because they didn't want to leave their pet(s). Place you pet(s) in a shelter or other safe area now, days before the storm.