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Call To Action: Protecting Your Future

The previous "Calls To Action" were concerned mainly about your property. The following steps are primarily for your protection and to help ensure the safety of your loved ones.

Your best protection is to know when there is a threat of hazardous weather. Before the start of the tropical cyclone season, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio and listen to the forecast directly from your local National Weather Service Office. Not only will to be better informed concerning tropical weather systems, you will be able to be alerted to all types of hazardous weather that could affect you.

At the start of the tropical cyclone season...
  • Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio for tropical weather updates and visit the NWS Southern Region's Tropical Weather Update.
  • Review your evacuation routes. Contact the local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter, and ask for the community hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters. These routes may change from year to year depending upon local construction.
  • Make a disaster supply kit that includes...
    • At least two waterproof flashlights with extra, fresh batteries,
    • Portable, battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio and AM/FM radio with extra, fresh batteries,
    • Either purchase an approved American Red Cross First Aid Kit or put your own together. Include...
      • Assorted sizes of sterile adhesive bandages, sterile gauze pads, and roller bandages,
      • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape and triangular bandages,
      • Scissors, tweezers, needle and thread, and assorted sizes of safety pins,
      • Medicine dropper and thermometer,
      • Safety razor and blades,
      • Bar of soap, moistened towelettes packages and antiseptic spray,
      • Tongue blades and wooden applicator sticks,
      • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant,
      • Cleansing agent, and
      • latex gloves.
    • Disposable camera with flash,
    • Emergency food and eating supplies...
      • Non-perishable packaged or canned foods and juices (check the expiration dates),
      • Special foods for infants or the elderly (check the expiration dates),
      • Cooking tools and fuel,
      • Paper plates and plastic utensils, and
      • A non-electric can opener.
    • Fire Extinguisher - Class ABC extinguishes can be safely used on any type of fire, including electrical, grease or gas.
  • Plan to take care of your pets. Contact your local humane society for information on local animal shelters as pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Also, store two weeks of pet supplies.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Prepare your protection for your windows. If you wait until a hurricane watch is in effect, plywood may be in short supply. Use ½" plywood (marine plywood is best) cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. More about window protection.
  • Trim trees and remove dead or weak branches.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
  • Check to ensure tie-downs are secured properly if you live in a mobile home.
At the end of the tropical cyclone season, use the food you stored provided the you have not exceeded the expiration dates. You will want to store fresh supplies for the next tropical cyclone season.

If a hurricane watch is issued for your area, you could experience hurricane force wind conditions within 36 hours. Do the following...
  • Listen to the NOAA Weather Radio for hurricane progress report,
  • Check your disaster supply kit to ensure it is up to date,
  • Fuel your automobile. Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to locate a safe place,
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools,
  • Anchor outside objects that cannot be brought inside,
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows,
  • Remove outside antennas,
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly. Freeze as much water as you can. This will help keep your refrigerator cold if the power is out for several days,
  • Store drinking water in jugs and bottles. You will need at least 1 gallon daily per person for up to seven days,
  • Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer and use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground,
  • Review evacuation plan,
  • Collect essential medicines into one place so you can quickly grab them should you need to evacuate, and
  • Get extra cash. With the possibility of no electricity, ATM's and credit card purchases will not work.
If a hurricane warning is issued for your area then sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Do the following...
  • Listen to the NOAA Weather Radio for hurricane progress reports.
  • Listen to the radio or television for official instructions.
  • Avoid elevators should the electricity fail.
  • If officials indicate evacuation is necessary you should do so immediately.
    • Turn the water off at the main water valve.
    • Turn off the gas at the outside main valve.
    • Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
    • If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or better yet, move it to a higher floor.
    • Bring your pre-assembled emergency supplies, warm protective clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags to shelter.
    • Lock up home and leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
  • If you choose to remain at your house...
    • Stay in the interior portion of your house, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
    • Keep several flashlights and extra batteries handy.
    • If your house is damaged by the storm you should turn the water and gas off at the main valves.
    • If power is lost, turn off electricity at the circuit breakers to reduce power "surge" when electricity is restored. Also avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
Remember, if the hurricane is forecast to move directly over your location, you may be in the path of the eye wall. This means that at the height of the storm, you could experience a sudden, rapid decrease in storm intensity as the hurricane's eye passes over your location. Remain in your shelter as the back side of the storm can be only minutes away with a just as sudden and rapid increase in wind speed, this time from the opposite direction.

After the hurricane has completely passed your location do the following...
  • Listen to the NOAA Weather Radio for hurricane progress reports.
  • Stay tuned to local radio for information.
  • Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
  • Once home, check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents and for insurance claims.
If you remained at your house during the storm...
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, police, or fire department. Be careful and not step onto objects in contact with downed power lines.
  • Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
  • If your home has been damaged, open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents and for insurance claims.
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Use telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
  • Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid the water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
Next: Protecting Your Peace of Mind

National Weather Service
Southern Region Headquarters
819 Taylor Street, Room 10A06
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Page last modified: July 27, 2004
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