Though we can hope and pray that Louisiana will be spared this hurricane season, we must also be prepared for whatever comes our way.
I think it’s never too soon to start planning how you and your family will react to an approaching storm. You can get more detailed information from the National Hurricane Center.
The most important thing you can do for your family is to be informed and prepared. One of the most important decisions you may have to make is whether or not to evacuate. If you are asked to evacuate, you should do so without delay. But even if you are not told to evacuate, it’s important for you and your family to have a plan that makes you as safe as possible in your home.
To create your Family Disaster Plan:
- Discuss the types of hazards that could affect your family, including your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind.
- Locate a safe room in your home, or a safe area in your community.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet.
- Have an out-of-state friend or family member as a contact, so everyone has a single point of contact. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was very difficult to make calls to the hurricane ravaged areas.
- Make a plan for your pets, should you need to evacuate.
- Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit.
- Take First Aid, CPR, and disaster preparedness classes.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center offers the following checklist for your family’s Disaster Supply Kit:
- Water – at least one gallon per day for three to seven days.
- Food – at least enough for three to seven days.
- Non-perishable packaged or canned foods and juices.
- Foods for infants or the elderly.
- Snack foods.
- Non-electric can opener.
- Cooking tools and fuel.
- Paper plates and plastic utensils.
- Blankets, pillows, etc.
- Clothing – seasonal / rain gear / sturdy shoes.
- First Aid Kit – including any prescription drugs and over the counter medicines.
- Special items for infants and the elderly.
- Toiletries – such as moisture wipes and personal hygiene items.
- Flashlight and batteries.
- Radio – battery operated and NOAA weather radio.
- Cash – with small bills, as banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods.
- Toys, books, and games.
- Important documents – insurance information, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc. should be carried in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag.
- Tools – keep a set with you during the storm.
- Vehicle fuel tanks filled.
- Pet care items – proper identification, immunization records, medications, an ample supply of food and water, a carrier or cage, and a muzzle and leash.
To track an approaching storm, you can find maps and regularly updated tracking information online at the National Hurricane Center.
A hurricane watch issued for your area lets you know that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. When a hurricane watch is issued, you should implement your family’s disaster plan and initiate protective measures, such as securing a boat or evacuating your area.
Should a hurricane warning be issued in your area, it means that sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour are expected within the next 24 hours. At this point, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.
In case of a disaster in your area, following are the American Red Cross chapters around Louisiana if you need assistance or if you want to volunteer:
- Acadiana Area Chapter, Lafayette, 337-234-7371.
- Southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles, 337-478-5122.
- Central Louisiana, Alexandria, 318-442-6621.
- Louisiana Capital Area Chapter, Baton Rouge, 225-291-4533.
- Northwest Louisiana Chapter, Shreveport, 318-865-9545.
- Northeast Louisiana Chapter, Monroe, 318-323-5141.
- Southeast Louisiana Chapter, Covington, 985-892-4317.
In short, advance preparation is the key for staying safe during this upcoming hurricane season. I urge you to take hurricane watches and warnings seriously. Plan ahead for your family’s safety and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
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