Stay prepared for the worst

Published 10:58 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tropical Storm Danny may have fizzled and missed Hampton Roads this weekend, but that doesn’t mean Suffolk residents should become slothful in preparing for disaster.

“It just takes one,” said Capt. James Judkins, emergency management coordinator for Suffolk. “Just because we’re supposed to have a slow hurricane season” doesn’t mean the area will be spared, Judkins said.

He noted that storms Bill and Danny both could have affected Hampton Roads had it not been for other weather systems coming from the west.

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Judkins reminded Suffolk residents to keep their emergency kits stocked and up to date all year.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s hurricane season or the winter or the extreme heat,” Judkins said. “Everyone should understand the importance of creating their own plan and their own family disaster kit.”

A family disaster kit should include water, food, a battery-powered radio, a first aid kit, dust mask and other items that will be needed in case of an emergency. Judkins recommended getting food that people in the family actually like.

“When building a kit, make sure you have something that you really like,” Judkins said. “When you get things you like, that makes it easier to rotate it through.”

Food and water in the kit should be rotated on a regular basis to ensure they always are fresh, Judkins said.

“Most people don’t think about water going bad, but water’s got a shelf life, too,” Judkins said.

As part of emergency planning, people who do not know if they live in a flood zone should find out as soon as possible, Judkins said.

“We can hide from the wind, but we’ve got to run from the water,” Judkins said. “Creating your plan, you need to know your hazards. Develop your plan with the thought in mind that you very well may have to evacuate. That’s the importance of keeping the kit.”

The emergency plan also should include plans for pets, designating an out-of-area relative or friend to become a point of contact, and knowing where important documents such as deeds and insurance papers are.

“The important documents in your house, having them in a location where you can grab them and go is very important,” Judkins said. “Always have your kit and your plan ready to go.”