Are you prepared if a hurricane should strike here?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

A tropical storm named Arthur has already developed; however, it was reported Tuesday that the storm is now not a threat to the United States. However, just the thought of such a storm makes you aware that we are in hurricane season. With the Atlantic hurricane season running through Nov. 30, and peaking in September, the American Red Cross urges people living in hurricane-prone areas to prepare for possible storms. By compiling a disaster supplies kit, developing an evacuation plan and forming a family communications plan, many potential problems and injuries can be prevented.

Hurricanes are predictable storms. Though hurricanes are easily tracked and have advance warning periods, they can change direction, speed and intensify quickly. The only defense is preparation. The following safety tips are recommended by the Red Cross:

Prepare A Disaster Supplies Kit

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Include a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, canned food, can opener, bottled water (three gallons per day), medications and rainwater. Store food that does not require heating and any items you may need for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.

Remove Dead or Diseased Branches and Limbs

Now is the time to cut and dispose of dead or diseased branches from trees and tall shrubs so they do not break off and become missiles during high winds. When a storm is approaching, it is too late to do this as trash pick-up services will probably not be operating.

Prepare Window Coverings Now

Ready the home for high winds. If you do not have pre-installed hurricane shutters, get outdoor plywood now and cut it to fit every window in the home. Plywood is readily available at reasonable prices now, but may not be when a hurricane is approaching. Hurricane Andrew taught an important lesson: homes that had all windows covered survived the storm with little or no damage. Homes that did not cover all the windows were often completely destroyed.

Know the meaning of Hurricane Watch and Hurricane Warning

A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Keep listening to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television for updated information. A hurricane warning means a hurricane will soon occur in your area. If you are told to evacuate the area, do so immediately.

Listen to Local Authorities and Stay Alert to Broadcasts

If local authorities ask you to leave, do so right away. You will need as much time as possible to evacuate, due to higher-than-usual traffic volumes. Listen to NOAA Water Radio and local television broadcasts for the latest information about the storm. Consult information provided by your local emergency management agency.

Prepare A Family Communication Plan

Designate a friend or relative outside your town or area as your family contact in the event you are separated from members during a hurricane if it knocks out your electricity.

For more hurricane safety information, access the Red Cross Web site at or These sites provide information on how to prepare for weather disasters. For free brochures on how to prepare for or track a hurricane, call the Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross at 539-6645.