Disaster preparedness specialist lists ‘simple steps’

Patricia Skinner, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  5/16/2008 2:06:45 AM

News Release Distributed 05/15/08

As hurricane season approaches, it’s a good time to take a few simple steps to protect your home and family in case a storm strikes, according to LSU AgCenter disaster preparedness specialist Pat Skinner.

“Many of the precautions you can take are simple things to do,” Skinner said. “They’re things you can do now to reduce damage if a storm comes your way.”

Among her recommendations for preventive actions you can take now are:

–Trimming dead wood and limbs out of trees.

–Staking young trees so they’ll survive high winds.

–Making a list of things in the yard that need to be brought inside or tied down if a hurricane comes your way.

–Repairing termite damage that might make your home more vulnerable to wind.

–Moving your family photos and important household documents to upper shelves, where shallow flooding would not affect them. The same thing is true for household chemicals.

Skinner says detailed information is available through the LSU AgCenter’s Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/hurricanes. Among the resources is “There’s a Hurricane Forming,” a helpful publication that includes a hurricane tracking chart and checklists to help you make last-minute decisions about what to take with you if you evacuate, supplies you need to have on hand, preparations you can make if a storm is approaching and much more.

Hurricane-resistant home construction also is featured in a special LSUAgCenter Web section you can reach by going to www.lsuagcenter.com/homebuilding. (Look at information in the Safer, Stronger, Smarter section, as well as useful links in other sections.)

In addition, the LSU AgCenter will open its LaHouse Resource Center in Baton Rouge July 15 – showcasing hurricane-resistant construction and retrofits for homes, as well as a variety of “green” and healthy features. More details on that project can be found at www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse.

Hurricane and flood precautions, however, aren’t only a matter of protecting property, the LSU AgCenter expert points out. You also need such things as a plan to keep in touch with family and friends should evacuation be necessary.

“Whether it’s for a hurricane or in response to a terrorist threat or incident, it’s very possible that members of your family will be caught going in different directions and unable to communicate - even with cell phones,” Skinner explained.

“When that happens, you’d like to be able to find one another – sooner, rather than later,” the disaster expert said, adding that the best way to locate one another is to decide in advance that everyone will “report in” to someone outside the disaster area, such as an uncle in Oklahoma or a close friend in Ohio.

“Decide now who the contact person will be, and give everyone the phone number,” Skinner emphasized. “Be sure every member of your family has the emergency contact information with them at all times, and don’t forget to send copies to your child care center or school.”

For additional information about disaster preparedness, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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Contact: Pat Skinner (225) 578-2910 or pskinner@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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