Respect the Cone
Those familiar with hurricane watching know what "the cone" is, but for those who don't: It's the projected areas that NOAA forecasters think will be impacted in some way by a hurricane. Sometimes the cone is off a bit - these storms can change course rather quickly, and it's difficult to predict an exact hurricane path days in advance. Nevertheless, if you live in an area included in the cone, OR near one, respect it. Know that things can change, but be smart enough to take precautions ahead of time.
Make a Go Bag
What the heck is a "go bag," you ask? A "go bag," or a "grab and go bag" is basically a kit that you can put together well in advance of any storm, especially a hurricane. You'll need it if you are asked to evacuate an area in the path of a potentially dangerous storm. Your go bag should have some essential items, including:
Plenty of water (approximately one gallon for each person in your household, per day, for at least 3 days)
Non-perishable food (canned goods and a can opener, crackers, bread, chips, fruit - anything that won't spoil)
Medication (be sure to refill any prescription medications you need before the storm hits, and include any over-the-counter meds you take regularly, along with a first aid kit, if possible)
Important documents and cash in small bags. You know that lock box you keep in the office closet? The one with insurance papers, mortgage papers, etc.? Get it out and have it ready to take with you if you need to evacuate.
An emergency radio, with extra batteries
A cell phone with a charger
Plastic baggies: You should put your important documents and cash, along with your phones, in plastic bags to protect them in case they get wet
Moist towelettes: If you don't have running water handy, these little towelettes can be heavenly, allowing you to clean up after munching out on your canned goods and/or freshening up if you can't take a shower.
**Another tip: Gather some blankets and pillows if you're heading for a shelter.
Have a Flashlight and Batteries on Hand
Most of us do have at least one or two flashlights lying around the house. Time to dig through the kitchen drawers now. Make sure you have a working flashlight, in the event you lose power. Also, please check to make SURE you have extra batteries. Stock up!
Another tip: Candles are always a good idea. Have an ample supply. Also, make sure you have lighters and matches on hand. And please, don't leave candles burning unattended. Just keep them lit in the areas where you and your family are - not in additional, unoccupied rooms.
Make a Family Emergency Plan
Every family should have some sort of emergency plan in place, be it for storms or any other disaster. If things get rough and a hurricane slams into your area, you may not be able to get good cell phone service. Make sure everyone in your household knows where to meet, if the worst happens. Designate an emergency contact person (preferably someone who lives out-of-town) and make sure everyone knows that person's number.
Make sure everyone in the family knows how to text message. If phone systems get overwhelmed (and they definitely do in the wake of any disaster), texting may be the only means of communicating with others.
Grab Some Extra Cash
If a hurricane does impact your area, ATM machines may go down (they need power, like everything else). Even if your local grocery store is open immediately after the storm, they may not be able to accept debit and/or credit cards - just cash. Go ahead and visit the bank or the ATM now and withdraw some cash. No need to flip out and withdraw your savings, but have enough on hand (small bills are great) to make purchases.
Get Fuel: Gas and Propane
Yes, gas up the vehicles. Don't freak out and hoard (meaning don't bring 18 gas cans and fill them all up), but make sure that the vehicles you have are fully fueled up. Prolonged power outages can cause big problems at the pump and temporary gas shortages do happen.
If you've got a gas grill, grab a tank or two of extra propane. If the power goes out, you'll be able to cook (and use up the stuff in the freezer that may go bad quickly).
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