If you plan to evacuate, your plan should include where you will go, the route to get there, when you will leave and what to take with you, and what preparations you will make to your home.
If you plan to stay, make sure you have all the supplies necessary to be on your own for three to seven days. If you are planning to go to an evacuation shelter, have your shelter supply kit packed and ready.
Make sure you have all the materials on hand to protect your home and prepare your home by no later than when a hurricane warning is issued. If a storm is threatening the area, listen to local media for information and actions to be taken. In addition you should:
■ Fuel your vehicle.
■ Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools.
■ Install your storm shutters or plywood and secure all doors.
■ Prepare boats as appropriate.
■ Turn up refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings.
■ Turn off and unplug small appliances and electronics that are not needed.
■ If you evacuate, turn off your air conditioner. If you stay at home and the power goes off, turn off your air conditioner. Turn it back on only after power has been restored in your area.
■ Make sure to turn off all liquid propane tanks
■ Fill sinks and bathtubs with water.
■ Get an extra supply of cash.
■ Call someone out of town to let them know of your plans. Then instruct other family members to call that person for information about you after the storm. It is usually easier for you to call out of the area after a storm than it is for others to call into the area.
■ Tropical disturbance: The initial stage of what could become a hurricane forming in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf. It’s a moving area of thunderstorms in the tropics that has an identity for 24 hours or longer.
■ Tropical depression: The next step up in a system’s formation. It’s an organized system in which the clouds and thunderstorms have a defined circulation. It has maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.
■ Tropical storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with defined circulation and maximum sustained winds from 39 to 73 mph.
■ Hurricane: A weather system intensifies and shows a well-defined circulation and becomes a hurricane. In the Atlantic and Gulf, these are called hurricanes once maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph or higher. These are called typhoons in the Pacific, west of the international date line.
■ Tropical storm watch: When tropical storm conditions may create a threat within 48 hours.
■ Tropical storm warning: A warning that tells coastal residents to expect tropical storm-force conditions in the defined area within 36 hours.
■ Hurricane watch: Issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 48 hours.
■ Hurricane warning: People in the affected area should immediately finish preparations to protect life and property. It means sustained winds of 74 mph or more are expected in a specified area in 36 hours or less.
■ Storm surge: This is an abnormal increase in the Atlantic or Gulf water above tidal levels. As a hurricane sweeps onto land, it pushes the water with it to create storm surge. This can be the most devastating part of a storm along the coast.
— National Hurricane Center and emergency management offices