Patricia Skinner, Merrill, Thomas A. | 6/10/2005 1:59:39 AM
Hurricane planning and preparation can make a difference in making it to safe shelter, reducing damage to your home, coping during a storm and recovering easily after one, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter.
Although this year’s hurricane season is only a few days old, the year’s first tropical storm could be headed our way by the weekend. Experts predict Arlene could make landfall by Saturday, and southeast Louisiana is among the areas within the storm’s potential path.
LSU AgCenter disaster education coordinator Pat Skinner says long-term planning is the best way to prepare for storms, but she points out it’s never too late to begin making preparations.
"If you've already thought out what you need to do and made a hurricane or storm plan, now is the time to use it," Skinner says. "But if you don't have a plan, there still are lots of things you can do in the few days or hours before a storm hits.
"The key is to remain calm and to focus on what needs to be done."
Skinner also says the approach of a storm is a good time to think about things you would do in the long term – as well as ways you can make better plans for facing future events.
"Planning and preparation take a little time and require making decisions while not in a panic," she says. "But by organizing your belongings for safekeeping and making structural modifications, you can make your home more resistant to damage by wind and water if a hurricane hits."
"Living With Hurricanes," a publication developed by the LSU AgCenter, includes information on planning for wind and water damage, preparing emergency supplies and items needed if you evacuate, and developing a family emergency plan.
The publication, which is available online in the Publications section of www.lsuagcenter.com or the special hurricane section of that site at www.lsuagcenter.com/hurricanes, provides details on the extent of damage wind and storm surges can inflict on property. Since hurricanes can cause flooding where it has never flooded before – even outside designated floodplains, inside levee systems or in areas further inland where hurricane danger is thought to be lower – the LSU AgCenter publication also recommends ways to reduce damage to belongings if such flooding occurs.
Among the tips offered by LSU AgCenter experts to help you prepare when a storm is brewing or approaching are:
–Whether you're staying at home or evacuating to a safer shelter, be sure there's enough drinking water available. You should have enough water to last for the duration of the hurricane and any potential flooding. A two-day to four-day supply of at least two quarts of water for each person per day is suggested.
–Store plenty of canned foods, those in jars or other nonperishable items that require little or no cooking.
–Have at least one battery-operated flashlight with extra batteries, lanterns with extra fuel, a first-aid kit and important medications.
–Fill your car's gas tank. Be sure your spare tire is inflated and that you have a tire repair kit and/or a can of the pressurized flat repair material in the car.
–Put valuable papers and other items in waterproof containers.
–Bring in lawn furniture, toys and garden tools; remove outdoor antennas; and pick up any other items that could become flying debris in a storm's wind.
–Put drinking water in jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.
–Turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings in case power goes out.
–Cover or brace large windows, if possible. Exterior window covers should be nailed to the reinforced part of the window frame.
–Pull curtains over unprotected windows to prevent injury from flying glass.
–Place folded towels along the joint between the bottom of the door and the sill to prevent water from being blown inside.
–Protect appliances from floodwater by placing them on blocks, if necessary.
–Protect electronic devices from lightning by unplugging them.
–Be sure rain spouts and outdoor drains are clear of any debris that may prevent water drainage.
–Stay tuned to radio and television for more information. Web sites also are good for this purpose. Have a battery-powered radio and spare batteries on hand so you can keep tuned for news and information even if the power fails.
"A South Louisiana Guide to Living With Hurricanes," "There’s a Hurricane Forming" and a variety of other information on preparing for storms can be accessed through the LSU AgCenter’s Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/hurricanes.