Burr Urges North Carolinians to Plan Ahead for Hurricane Season

Tips can help non-coastal areas prepare for other emergencies

With hurricane season quickly approaching, I urge North Carolinians to plan ahead. It is clear our Nation is still recovering from the effects of the 2005 hurricane season. Hurricane Katrina impacted over 93,000 square miles of our Nation and brought terrible destruction along its path. Every hurricane has a lasting effect on communities, people, and property. I want to encourage North Carolinians to develop an emergency and evacuation plan to protect their family, pets, and property. For those of you who don't live directly on the coast, these preparations can easily be adapted for other possible emergencies.

Because many disasters do not allow enough time to prepare, planning ahead is a necessity. Advance planning for a potential hurricane can reduce stress and personal losses that may accompany any disaster. There are several key steps to help prepare for a hurricane such as maintaining an emergency supply kit, preparing your home, having an evacuation plan, ensuring you have the best insurance policy, and providing safety for pets and animals. The following is a compilation of information on disaster preparedness from FEMA, the Red Cross, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What supplies should I keep in my disaster supply kit?

• A disaster supply kit should be kept in a designated place in your home and it should be readily accessible. All family members should know where the supply kit is kept.

Essential supplies that should be included are: a first aid kit and essential prescribed medications; a three - five day supply of non perishable food (such as canned food) and a can opener; at least three - five gallons of water per person; protective clothing; sleeping bags and extra blankets; a battery powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries; baby food and supplies if needed; disposable cleaning cloths (such as baby wipes) for the entire family; personal hygiene supplies such as soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste; cash and coins; and photocopies of credit and identification cards such as a drivers license, social security card and proof of insurance policies.

How do I develop a personal evacuation plan for my family?

• All families should have an emergency evacuation plan. There should be one designated meeting place for your family. You should constantly listen to local radio for evacuation instructions and always keep a full tank of gas when preparing for a hurricane.

• Before disaster strikes, identify places you could go if you are told to evacuate. You should consider a friend or family member's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter and you should keep the telephone numbers of these places accessible as well as a road map in case you have to take an alternative route.

• You should follow the recommended evacuation routes assigned by the city, county, or state. You should also prepare an emergency supply kit for your car with food, flares, jumper cables, maps, tools and sleeping bags.

How do I prepare my home for a hurricane?

• There are several steps you can take to protect your home from severe damage during a hurricane. To secure the outward structure of your home, you should secure outdoor items such as bicycles and grill tanks and cover windows and doors with plywood or boards. Also, keep the bushes, trees, and shrubs around your home trimmed and clean out your gutters regularly.

• Inside your home you should turn off water supply and natural gas supply to the house. Water becomes a valuable resource and natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following many hurricanes. Be sure to shut off electricity to the entire house and unplug all electrical equipment. Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.

What type of insurance do I need to ensure I have full coverage for any type of damage to my home and property?

• You should purchase homeowner's insurance as well as flood insurance. Flood insurance is not part of your homeowner's policy. You should also take inventory of your possessions.

• Make a record of your personal property for insurance purposes by taking photos of the interior and exterior of your home including your personal belongings. Keep important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, and other important papers in a safe place such as a safety deposit box and make sure you have copies of these documents in your disaster supply kit.

How do I protect my pets during a hurricane?

• You should plan ahead for your pets needs during a hurricane. Call your local animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information, ensure your pet has proper ID and up-to-date veterinarian records, and locate local and out of town pet boarding facilities.

Where can I get more information on hurricane preparedness?

• There are several websites available to help you get prepared for a hurricane. FEMA's website http://www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/index.shtm gives information on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane. FEMA also has a publication Are You Ready at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/index.shtm.

• The Red Cross has a hurricane preparedness page at http://www.redcross.org/services/prepare/0,1082,0_253_,00.html

• NOAA's National Weather Service Website may be accessed at http://www.nws.noaa.gov.

• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control has information on hurricanes at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/

For more information go to https://www.burr.senate.gov

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