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Eye of the Storm: Effectively Preparing for Hurricane Season

Mar 7, 2008
Early preparation, according to the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, is the key to facing hurricane season. By starting early, residents avoid the rush at home supply stores, grocery stores and other venues that typically get crowded and sometimes chaotic when hurricane watches and warnings are issued. The Initiative is comprised of organizations and businesses including the National Hurricane Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The Salvation Army, and AT&T, to name a few.

To date, the National Hurricane Survival Initiative has generated more than 370 million media impressions overall, with media coverage in newspapers, radio and television nationwide, including CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, New York Times, Orlando Sentinel, and the Palm Beach Post, among others.

Three conditions need to be in existence for the formation of a hurricane: pre-existing disturbance of thunderstorms, warm ocean temperatures up to 80 degrees to a depth of approximately 150 feet, and light upper level winds that speed throughout the depth of the atmosphere. Even with today's sophisticated computer-forecasting models, a hurricane's path, strength and potential for damage can not be precisely predicted. That is why preparing for the worst possible situation is a smart move.

In preparing for a hurricane or disaster, families should identify ahead of time where they will go if they need to evacuate. Choose a home of a friend of family member show home is well away from coastal areas. Other options include a motel or approved hurricane shelter. Following a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Consider asking an out-of-state friend to be the "family contact" - someone everyone in the family knows to call to tell him or her where they are. Locate important papers and documents and have them ready to take with you should you need to evacuate. These include driver's license, Social Security cards, proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, birth and marriage certificates, and tax records. Exterior and interior photos of your home should also be included.

A hurricane plan must also include the things you have to protect and secure your home against during the storm. Do everything you can to minimize the danger to your family and damage to your house.

Outside of house:
Keep trees and shrubs trimmed
Remove loose branches
Clean out gutters and downspouts
Clear the lawn of furniture, potted plants, and any other items that can become windborne.
Secure windows and glass doors by using shutters or installing plywood
Brace garage doors
Leave swimming pools filled and add extra chlorine
Secure trailed boats
Fill vehicle fuel tanks

Inside house:
Locate water valves, gas valves, and main electric breaker. Have instructions on how to turn of electricity, gas and water if authorities advise to do so.

Unplug all but essential appliances and electric equipment.

Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest setting.

Secure and waterproof your home office. Back up computer files on disks.

Stay indoors, away from windows.

Locate a safe room in the center of your home, without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.

There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. It's important to have certain items on hand to make you and your family as safe and comfortable as possible in your home or when you evacuate:

Important papers, in waterproof container.
Water - figure on at least one gallon daily per person for five days.
Water purification tablets (halazone).
Food - non-perishable foods that do not need cooking such as canned meat and fish, canned fruits and vegetables, canned soups and puddings, dried fruits, cereal, bread, and instant tea or coffee, to name a few
Special food for pets, babies or the elderly.

First Aid Kit
Radio and extra batteries
Useful tools such as hammer and nails, screwdrivers and screws, all-purpose cleaner, shovel, duct tape, ladder, and portable generator, to name a few.

Other hurricane and earthquake preparation sites recommend safety knives as part of self-rescue kits because of their small size, long shelf life, and multiuse capabilities. Many rescue personnel after Hurricane Katrina carried safety knives for quick-access cutting ability without having an exposed blade at all times. This cost-effective item can be replaced cheaply, lessening incidences of contamination. Forward-thinking companies are planning ahead for disaster operations and ordering supplies of utility knives to issue on demand along with flashlights and other items.

Here are a few things NOT to do in preparation for, or during a storm:

Don't put masking tape on windows - it won't keep the windows from shattering

Don't crack a window - this will not equalize pressure atmospheric pressure inside/outside the house

Don't buy a chainsaw - Sleep deprived and distraught, after the storm is not the best time to use a dangerous power tool.

Don't buy candles With roads out and the fire department grounded, do you really need a house on fire? Invest in battery-powered sources of lights and a battery-powered radio.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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