Determine Your Risk - Contact your local emergency management office to find out what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and how best to start preparing for them. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland, even without them being major hurricanes.
Develop an Evacuation Plan - If you’re in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane, figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate. You don't need to travel hundreds of miles. Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in a zone or unsafe home, and work it out with them to use their home as your evacuation destination. Be sure to account for your pets, as most local shelters do not permit them. Put the plan in writing for you and those you care about.
Assemble Disaster Supplies – Supplies are vital, not just to get through the storm, but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Maintain enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of one week. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long. You will need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. Many of us have cell phones, so you are going to need a portable, crank or solar powered USB charger.
Secure an Insurance Check-up - Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or even replace your home. Don’t forget coverage for your car or boat. Remember, standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Whether you are a homeowner or renter, you will need a separate policy for it, and it’s available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov. Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.
Strengthen Your Home - If officials state conditions are safe enough to ride the out storm at home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Many of these retrofits do not cost much or take long to install. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up windows and doors. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds. Make sure up secure loose items around the outside of your home.
Check on Neighbors - Many people rely on their neighbors after a disaster, but there are also many ways you can help your neighbors before a hurricane approaches. Get to know your neighbors, and embrace a "neighbors help neighbors" approach.
Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan - The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins, when you have the time and are not under pressure. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions. Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. You don’t want to be standing in long lines when a hurricane warning is issued. Those supplies that you need will probably be sold out by the time you reach the front of the line. Being prepared, before a hurricane threatens, makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water. It will mean the difference between you being a hurricane victim and a hurricane survivor.
For more information on Hurricane Preparedness, go to www.ready.gov or contact Lee Cornwell, City of Bowie Emergency Manager, email@example.com