PERSONAL READINESS KEY TO STAYING SAFE DURING HURRICANE SEASON AND BEYOND

With the proliferation of extreme weather conditions including hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and floods, citizens have an even greater reason to develop and continually update a personal readiness plan before disasters happen. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects 12 to 17 total named storms this hurricane season.  New in 2023, the National Weather Service has begun issuing 7-day outlooks with updates every six hours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges citizens to learn the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions of sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or higher are possible. A hurricane warning means hurricane-force winds are expected. “Hurricanes don’t only affect people living along the coast. They can cause damage hundreds of miles from the shore,” says the CDC.

They are many advance steps you and your family can take to prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies.  First, it is important to become familiar with your hurricane evacuation route and know where you and your family might wait out the storm if evacuation is ordered. Make a list of emergency phone numbers and program them in your cell phones. Fill your car’s gas tank in advance. Don’t forget to plan for your pets as well. Many hotels are pet friendly; check in advance where your pets might be welcome.

Second, pre-assemble an evacuation/disaster first aid kit with a flashlight, fresh batteries, back-up charges, cash, food, water, wipes, bandages and antibiotic ointment. Also bring along all medicines that are used on a daily basis by family members. If you plan on evacuating, clear your yard of items like furniture, grills, bicycles that could become projectiles during a storm. Board up your windows and doors.

If you decide to stay in your home rather than evacuate, gather adequate non-perishable food items, water for drinking and bathing and ice (if available) in case flooding or blocked roads limit your mobility after the emergency passes. Generators and battery operated fans can bring relief if your area loses power.  Be sure that generators are placed at least 20 feet away from your home and never indoors or in an attached garage. Have a fresh fire extinguisher readily available and teach all family members how to use it. If necessary, install a new battery in your carbon monoxide monitor to prevent CO poisoning.

Families also can benefit from a family emergency communication plan which details how/where they will meet up. Know how to reach each other before and after disasters even when communication networks for mobile phone and computers might be compromised.

Finally, collect important personal documents including insurance and medical documents, wills, passports, and personal identification. Take photographs of the rooms in your home including antiques, fine art and other valuables. Store them on your phone or on a zip drive.

Federal, state and local governments have important information available to help citizens before and after disasters. The National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov) and the National Weather Service (www.weather.gov) are trusted sources of information at the national level. In Louisiana, the Louisiana Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness office (www.gohsep.la.gov; (225) 925-750) is ready to assist along with the Louisiana State Police’s Road Closure Hotline (www.lsp.org/emergency.html; (877) 452-3683. In New Orleans citizens can text NOLAREADY to 77295 to receive emergency text alerts from the city or contact the New Orleans Office of Homeland security and Emergency Preparedness at (504) 658-8700.

Over the last 50 years, the Blake Jones Law Firm has worked with thousands of Louisiana families to get the funding they deserve after hurricanes and other disasters. We’ll work with your insurance company and the appropriate government agencies to make you whole again. If you or your family are impacted by a weather emergency, contact us.

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