In areas where hurricanes can strike, it's a good idea to have a closet or an area set aside for storm preparedness storage. There, you can keep items you'll need in case disaster strikes suddenly or you need to evacuate.
It's also important to know the difference between a watch and a warning, and when they are issued for tropical storms and hurricanes.
A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions -- sustained winds above 73 mph -- are expected somewhere within the warning area, and it is time to finish preparation to protect people and property. "Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds" -- 39 to 73 mph, the National Hurricane Center says.
A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area, and are issued 48 hours before the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
A tropical storm warning means tropical-storm-force winds are expected somewhere in the designated area within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch means such conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Here are recommendations on what to do before a storm approaches:
-- Download an application to your smartphone that can notify people where you are, and if you need help or are safe. The Red Cross has a Hurricane App available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. A First Aid app is also available.
-- Use hurricane shutters or board up windows and doors with 5/8 inch plywood.
-- Bring outside items in if they could be picked up by the wind.
-- Clear gutters of debris.
-- Reinforce the garage door.
-- Turn the refrigerator to its coldest setting in case power goes off. Use a cooler to keep from opening the doors on the freezer or refrigerator.
-- Fill a bathtub with water.
-- Get full tank of gas in one car.
-- Go over the evacuation plan with the family, and learn alternate routes to safety.
-- Learn the location of the nearest shelter or nearest pet-friendly shelter.
-- Put an ax in your attic in case of severe flooding.
-- Evacuate if ordered and stick to marked evacuation routes, if possible.
-- Store important documents -- passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates, deeds -- in a watertight container.
-- Have a current inventory of household property.
-- Leave a note to say where you are going.
-- Unplug small appliances and electronics before you leave.
-- If possible, turn off the electricity, gas and water for residence.
Here is a list of supplies:
-- A three-day supply of water, one gallon per person per day.