Hurricane Season begins on June 1st, and meteorologists are already predicting a “better than average” chance of a major hurricane striking the United States, and the expectation of fifteen named storms between now and November. Throughout the country, and especially along the Gulf Coast and in Florida, managers of emergency programs urge residents to update their disaster kits and storm provisions.
Mike Stone, spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management said last week, “We’re in our preseason. You have preseason for ball players, and it’s time for Floridians to get into that spring-training kind of mode. Now is really the time.” Among the suggestions for preparation:
– Review and update crucial documents like medical records and insurance policies, and store them in a waterproof bag in your disaster kit.
– Check the expiration dates on canned goods and other perishable items, and if they’re nearing expiration, consider donating them to a food bank and then replacing them.
American Red Cross worker Doug Douglass of Tampa Bay says that using a Sharpie or other permanent market to write purchase and expiry dates on cans and boxes of stored food is a really smart idea. Another recommendation from the Red Cross is to replace stored bottled water if it’s been sitting for more than six months. As well, your food and water supplies should be enough to last three to five days (or even seven if you have the space) and don’t forget to include toilet paper.
– Check the batteries on your flashlights and radios and any other portable electronics and stock your emergency kit with replacement batteries that are separate from the batteries you use every day.
– If you have plastic tarps, cots, or cloth blankets in storage, open them, and make sure they’re in good condition.
– Check the status of your generator, if you have some, and be sure it runs. As well, make sure you have gas and oil for it.
If you’re not sure what should be included in a disaster kit, you can visit American Red Cross online at www.redcross.org, or the check out the page for the National Hurricane Center Disaster Supply Kit at www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/prepare/supply_kit.shtml