The Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us. It begins June 1 and ends November 30 of every year. Know your hurricane risks in order to be prepared in the event that disaster strikes. Become familiar with local emergency plans.

Develop a family emergency plan to protect you and your family that includes plans for evacuation if necessary as well as having a prepared “grab and go” box packed, ready to take with you. This evacuation box can actually be a backpack or other durable container, both preferably waterproof.

Know where to go if ordered to evacuate, the routes to take, and have a plan of where you will stay. Your “grab and go” box should contain any medications needed with a copy of each prescription, cash since power outages can make ATMs and debit cards useless, rolls of quarter for vending machines or coin laundries, emergency cell phone numbers including family members, doctors, and pharmacies. Included in the box should be copies of insurance cards or policy information, copies of other important papers such as deeds, titles, wills, power of attorney, health care directives, birth certificates, death certificates, adoption certificates, marriage certificates, passports and/or other identity documents, keys to safety deposit boxes and combination to your safe, if you have these, and other important numbers like social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and/or bank account numbers. Paper documents should be placed in sealed, waterproof plastic bags in your “grab and go” box. Once your “grab and go” box is prepared, you will need to keep it in a safe secure place and update it every year.

If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate, and you decide to stay in your home, have adequate supplies on hand that will help if there is a power outage and are without water for several days and you can’t leave due to flooding or blocked roads. Supplies that include cash, nonperishable foods (at least a three to seven day supply taking into consideration all dietary needs especially babies and older adults [stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation and be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils]), drinking water (1 gallon per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation), medications, portable radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, car cell phone charger, and if you are able to afford, a portable generator and gas to operate (remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet).

You will also want to make sure that your house and property are ready for the approaching storm. Keep trees trimmed, gutters secured and cleaned, cover doors and windows to prevent flying debris from causing damage, and secure/store any outside furniture or other items that could potentially become airborne.

Other important items that you may consider having on hand include a fire extinguisher, matches, household chlorine bleach, paper products, and books, games, puzzles or other activities for children. When there is the threat of a hurricane, make sure that your car has a full tank of gas, if you have pets, bring them in, and if you will be evacuating, be sure to make arrangements for them; many shelters do not allow any types of pets. If you are evacuating, contact relatives, neighbors and friends to let them know that you are leaving and where you will be going if you know. Otherwise, call and let them know where you are once you arrive.

Hurricanes are strong forces of nature that can cause severe damage. The best defense is being prepared before there is an eminent threat of a hurricane. Creating a plan, putting together an emergency preparedness kit, and being alert to the potential of a possible hurricane, knowing if and when to evacuate can protect you and your family.

For more information on this topic contact Robin B Landry at the Assumption Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office by calling 985-369- 6386 or by email at rlandry@agcenter.lsu.edu. You can also visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com for more hurricane related information or visit the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) at http://www.getagameplan.org/ to create a plan for you and your family before a disaster strikes.

Sources: http://www.lsuagcenter.com; http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php; https://www.ready.gov; http://www.getagameplan.org/

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