Prepare before disaster strikes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 16, 2004

Top hurricane experts urge Atlantic and Gulf Coast residents to take heed and use this year’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 16-22, to do just that – prepare.

Renowned hurricane forecaster, Dr. William M. Gray, predicts &uot;above average&uot; activity for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season and estimates a 52 percent probability that at least one &uot;intense&uot; or major hurricane will make landfall on the East Coast.

To help homeowners prepare well in advance for the 2004 season, the American Red Cross and Lowe’s compiled the following hurricane safety tips:


Email newsletter signup

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

— Gather emergency supplies including: emergency medications, nonperishable food, a non-electric can opener, bottled water (at least three gallons per day per person), a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, extra clothes, important documents, cash and credit cards, a first aid kit and other items for infants, elderly or disabled family members and pets

— Store supplies in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container, such as a plastic tub with handles

Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan

— Identify an evacuation route ahead of time; discuss with family members

— If advised to evacuate, do so immediately

— In case of evacuation to an American Red Cross shelter, be sure to bring the disaster supplies kit, medications, extra clothing, pillows and blankets and other hygiene and comfort supplies

— Make advance preparations for pets, which due to health department regulations aren’t allowed in public shelters

Prepare for High Winds

— Measure windows and obtain shutters or cut plywood to cover each one

— Remove diseased and damaged tree limbs well before a storm strikes

— Strengthen garage doors with vertical support beams made from 2X4’s and &uot;L&uot; brackets. Get professional help if needed.

When a Hurricane Warning has been issued and you have time:

— Clear deck and yard of potential flying debris such as trash cans and lawn furniture

— Anchor large objects that can’t be brought inside

— Close and cover all windows with permanent hurricane shutters or pre-cut plywood

— Add protection to the outside of sliding glass doors with hurricane panels or plywood

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends November 30. Gray predicts the Atlantic will spawn 14 &uot;named&uot; tropical storms this year, and that eight of them will grow into hurricanes. Tropical storms deliver winds of at least 39 mph. Hurricanes are 74 mph or more.

For additional home safety information, and to take a pledge to prepare for emergency situations, visit

The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. Governed by volunteers and supported by community donations, the American Red Cross is a nationwide network of more than 900 chapters and Blood Services regions dedicated to saving lives and helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Led by 1.2 million volunteers and 32,000 employees, the Red Cross annually mobilizes relief to families affected by more than 67,000 disasters, trains almost 12 million people in lifesaving skills and exchanges more than a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals across the nation and also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts at locations worldwide. For more information, visit

Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, United Way of America, and the Home Safety Council, in addition to numerous non-profit organizations and programs that help communities across the country. Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awards more than $2 million annually to diverse organizations across the United States.

Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer program aimed at preventing unintentional home injuries. Lowe’s, a FORTUNE(r) 50 company with fiscal year 2003 sales of $30.8 billion, has more than 975 stores in 45 states. For more information, visit

– Information from the Associated Press compiled by Barbara Lee Allen