Hurricane season is a time for planning

Patricia Skinner, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  6/2/2009 1:07:10 AM

News Release Distributed 06/01/08

It’s no surprise that experts say hurricane season is a time for planning.

Making the appropriate arrangements and having good emergency plans can reduce damage to your home, help you cope during the storm and help you recover more easily after the storm, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter.

“Planning may save your life or your pet’s life,” says Pat Skinner of the LSU AgCenter. “It may mean the difference between making it or not making it to a safe shelter.

“Or it may only save the life of a favorite container plant or help you sleep easier through the summer storm season,” she says, adding, “No matter what the results, having good emergency plans can make a difference and help you know you are more likely to survive together as a family.”

One step in making emergency plans is to make sure you are properly insured, including flood insurance, Skinner stresses.

“Having adequate coverage on your home and property helps you know you can weather a storm and have funds to restore or rebuild your home if it’s damaged,” she says. “Make sure you also have flood insurance, which is purchased separately from other hazard and wind coverage.”

The experts say drawing up your emergency plans isn’t difficult. You just need a little time and imagination.

“Making your emergency plans just takes a little of your time and a pencil and paper – or your computer,” Skinner explains. “All you have to do is ask yourself some basic questions about what you want to do in an emergency.”

LSU AgCenter experts say emergency plans should address basic issues such as these:

–Know the emergency broadcast station frequency for your area, so you can keep up with the latest news bulletins.

–Map out where you would meet and who you would call if you were separated from other family members in an emergency.

–Think about measures you need to take to protect your home and property. Are there things you can do well in advance, such as trimming trees, to prepare for a storm? And what will you need to do at the last minute, such as turning off utilities, securing loose items or covering windows?

–Make sure you have basic emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, batteries, a first-aid kit and so forth.

–Keep at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food on hand and devise a means of storing ample water for that time frame, in case you need it.

–Consider if there is someone you would tell if you decided to leave home in an emergency (neighbors, out-of-town relatives or others). Doing this also gives family members someone else to contact about your status if they can’t get in touch with you.

–Where would you go if you needed to evacuate? Would you go to a shelter? Do you have out-of-town friends or relatives who could house you? Remember, hotel rooms are difficult to find during an emergency.

–What route would you take during an evacuation? Do you have a car, and would you drive? Would you need to depend on public transportation, and if so, will it be available? Check with your area’s emergency manager for information on your community’s evacuation plans.

–What would you take with you if you had to evacuate? You’ll definitely need to have identification, some cash, copies of important papers, medications you take regularly, clothing for at least a few days and other necessities for daily living. You also might want to take copies of a few family photos or other sentimental items you could reasonably transport.

–How will you provide for your pets’ care and safety? Will you take them with you if you evacuate? Can you provide them with plenty of food and shelter if they must be left behind?

“By making your plans ahead of time, you get the chance to think clearly rather than trying to make decisions during the panic of an emergency situation,” Skinner says. “It takes a little time to make plans and get things organized, but a good emergency plan is worth everything you put into it.”

Once you’ve drawn up emergency plans, Skinner says to be sure you keep a copy of the plan in a place where you and every member of your family can readily find it – so it can be reviewed frequently and put into action whenever it’s needed.

For more information on preparing for or recovering from storms and other emergencies, as well as a wealth of subjects related to your home and family life, visit www.lsuagcenter.com. One helpful publication could be “A South Louisiana Guide to Living with Hurricanes,” which can be found on that site.

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Contact: Pat Skinner
Writer: Tom Merrill

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