As Hurricane Bill stands (or rather rotates) poised to rain the east coast out this week, I'm reminded that once again hurricane season is upon us. June 1 through November 30 is the official Atlantic Hurricane Season (with its peak from Aug-Oct), so this is a great time to make sure we are all prepared for anything mother nature may throw at us over the next few months.
If you are evacuating your home:
Turn the pilot light off on your water heater and furnace, then turn off the gas line valve near the appliance and, finally, turn off your gas at the meter. This will reduce the probability that a tree falling on the roof will break an active gas line and create the chance for a spark to cause a fire. Turning off valves working from the appliance to the meter will make it easier to reignite on your return by reversing the process.
- Turn off your master water supply
- DO NOT Turn off your master breaker. You need power for the alarm and refrigerator.
- Unplug all fixtures or small appliances that can be accessed.
- Bring into the garage, or otherwise secure all movable exterior items such as small plants in pots, lawn furniture and pool equipment.
- Fill all vehicle fuel tanks.
- If you have time trim all branches or heavy bushes that could damage windows.
Take with you:
- Food and snacks for two days
- Two gallons of water per individual
- Clothing for one week
- First aid kit
- Medications for 30 days
- Flashlights and spare batteries
- Important documents (wills, insurance, licenses, medical and bank records as needed)
- Pet care items
- Tell a neighbor that is staying where you are going and how to contact you. Exchange numbers.
If you are staying: (Highly discouraged if you are in a storm surge area or near the immediate path of the storm):
- Increase food supplies to 3-7 days--preferably non-perishable food items.
- Fill up your propane tank for your grill or buy two sacks of charcoal.
- Insure that you have a functional fire extinguisher. ABC type will work on any fire. Remember, with down trees and no reliable phone service 911 may not be an option.
- Increase water supplies to one gallon per person per day.
- Adequate toiletries, diapers and special items to last at least one week
- One flashlight per individual and one spare set of batteries per light
- Increase cash on hand.
- Battery operated radio
- Toys books and games
- Clean and fill the tub the night before land fall. This water will be used for pets and flushing toilets.
- Do all of your laundry before landfall. You may not have a chance for a week or so.
- Take digital pictures of your home and each room. This will support future insurance claims.
- Store your valuable papers in a waterproof container or bank vault
- Fill bags with ice from your ice machine
- Back up your computer data and store it in a safe place
Additional steps for family safety:
- Discuss hazards that could affect your family (storm surge, rising water, down power lines).
- Determine a safe escape route and two meeting points if you have to evacuate your house unexpectedly. Have a contact person out of the area that each family member can contact if you are separated.
- Locate the safest room in your home. Pre-stock with pillows and blankets if room allows.
- Plan for taking care of your pets.