How to prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 4, 2013 

The Atlantic hurricane season, which affects states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and along the Eastern seaboard, runs from June 1st to Nov. 30th; and this year's has been pretty quiet. This weekend, Tropical Storm Karen will make landfall -- and it's possible that the storm will have become Hurricane Karen.

According to the National Weather Service, the Columbus area shouldn't expect torrential rains or winds from the storm: Saturday will see a high of 86 degrees, a 30 percent chance of rain and 15 mph winds. That chance of rain increases to 80 percent on Sunday.

But hurricane season isn't over yet. Here's a handy guide to make sure you're prepared.

Know your risk: Check the Federal Emergency Management Agency's map portal to assess your hazards. Read up on emergency alerts and NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts official Weather Service warnings 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Check your supplies: According to FEMA, make sure you have "one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days"; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, such as canned goods; a manual can opener; a flashlight and extra batteries; a whistle to signal for help; a dust mask; a cell phone with solar charger; local maps; moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation; and a wrench or pliers.

Pack a first-aid kit: FEMA has a comprehensive list of necessary items, including bandages, antibiotic ointment and sterile gloves.

Develop an emergency plan for your family. The National Hurricane Center advises that you have answers ready for these questions: How will you find your family members? How will you know if your children or parents are safe? What will you do if water, gas, electricity or phone services are shut off? What will you do with your pets? Check the emergency plans of your workplace and your children's schools. Designate a specific place for your emergency supplies.

Plan for all situations: Forecast your family's needs in an emergency that go beyond food, water and shelter. Will you need diapers for your baby? Protective clothing, given the season?

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