For those who have decided to take their chances and ride out a major hurricane, I found a list of preparations one can take. While each suggestion is especially useful, the biggest bit of advice would be to simply seek higher ground. Homes are replaceable, human life isn’t.
* Pay attention to news broadcasts. Keep a watchful eye on developing storms and their projected paths. Don’t trust rumors.
* Keep your car’s gas tank FULL. Top the gas tank in your car off every couple of days. Lines get long, the gas supply becomes scarce and even non-existent the closer a storm gets to your area. Also, gas pumps do not operate without electricity and may not be available for days after a storm.
* Go to the grocery store TODAY. Local supplies dwindle quickly leaving the shelves of most stores empty within a couple of days before the arrival of a storm. Stock up and store these items:
1. Water. You should have on hand at least one gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days, but preferably two weeks.
2. Non-perishable ready-to-eat foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking and little or no water. Examples: ready-to-eat canned meats and fruits; canned juices; milk; high energy foods including peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix; comfort foods including cookies, hard candy, instant coffee, tea, etc.
* Special dietary foods.
* Prescription medication. You should have at least a two-week supply of your medications.
* Make a PLAN and a LIST. Find out if your are in an evacuation zone. If you are, decide where you will go if you need to evacuate — a relative’s house, a friend’s house or perhaps a hotel. Make a list of articles you will need to take along if you have to evacuate (this includes your disaster supplies kit). If you plan on staying in your home, make a list of what supplies you will need for your disaster supplies kit.
* Store valuables and documents in waterproof containers. This includes birth certificates and other important documents.
* Prepare and secure your home. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed loose branches picked up. Buy, cut and prepare plywood for installation to protect windows and glass doors, and wood to brace double-entry garage doors at the top and bottom. If a storm should threaten, clear your yard of lawn furniture, potted plants, bicycles, trash cans, etc. Leave swimming pools filled and super-chlorinated.
* Pets. Red cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of the states’ health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals who assist people with disabilities are the only animals allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so it is best to plan ahead.
o Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Attach the phone number and address of a friend or relative outside the disaster area to your pet’s ID tag.
o Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.
o Keep a current photo of your pet with you.
o Do not leave your pet unattended during a hurricane. A secure room, a few days supply of food and water does not mean your pet will be safe.
o Call ahead to confirm temporary housing arrangements for your pets. Temporary shelters DO NOT allow pets. Some hotels/motels do allow pets, but an additional fee and/or security deposit is necessary and these accommodations fill up quickly.
* GET CASH! Banks and ATMs won’t be in operation without power and few stores will be able to accept credit cards or personal checks. Think small bills, finding change for a $20-bill may be difficult.
* Check your disaster supplies kit. Your disaster supplies kit should contain the following:
1. Flashlights and several sets of batteries for each member of the family.
2. Portable radio and batteries.
3. Drinking Water. A supply of one gallon per person, per day for a minimum of three days.
4. Non-perishable Food. A two-week supply is best.
5. Special dietary foods.
6. Non-electric can opener.
7. Prescription medications. Always keep a two-week supply on hand.
8. Infant supplies that include sterile water, diapers, ready formula, bottles, etc.
9. Mosquito repellent.
10. First aid kit including a first aid book, bandages, antiseptic, tape, compresses, aspirin and nonaspirin pain reliever, antidiarrhea medication and antacid.
11. Distress flag and/or whistle.
12. Toilet paper, paper towels and pre-moistened towelettes.
13. Camera and film.
14. Coolers. One to keep food and another to transport ice.
15. Plastic tarp, roofing paper, nails, tools, etc.
16. Plastic trash bags.
17. Clean-up supplies including a mop, buckets, towels, disinfectant, etc.
18. Water purification kit. Tablets, plain chlorine and iodine.
* If you evacuate take the supplies above and also take:
1. Personal hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
2. Extra clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, etc.
3. Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, cots or air mattresses, folding chairs or lawn chairs.
4. Turn off electricity, water and gas.
5. Lock windows and doors.
6. Let relatives know where you are going.
Read more about preparing for a major hurricane here: http://goflorida.about.com/od/floridaweathe1/a/hurricane_prep.htm