Eye of the Storm
Hurricane season has arrived - are you prepared?
By Heather R. Breaux - May 31, 2007
Hurricane season has begun and before the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico lure in destructive and dangerous storms, the parish’s emergency preparedness department wants you be prepared if a tropical system heads our way.
Here are hurricane safety tips can be found on the parish’s web site that every St. Charles Parish resident needs to know:
•Know the storm history and elevation of your area.
•Learn safe routes inland.
•Learn locations of official shelters.
•Review needs and working condition of emergency equipment, such as flashlights and battery-powered radios.
•Ensure that enough non-perishable food and water supplies are on hand to last for at least two weeks.
•Obtain and store materials, such as plywood and plastic, necessary to properly secure your home.
•Check home for loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
•Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall or bump against the house. When trimming, try to create a channel through the foliage to the center of the tree to allow for air flow.
•Determine where to move your boat in an emergency.
•Review your insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage.
•Individuals with special needs should contact the St. Charles Parish Emergency Operation Center at 985-783-5050 to make arrangements for assistance during a storm.
What to do if a hurricane watch
is issued in the area
•Frequently monitor radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins of the storm’s progress.
•Fuel and service family vehicles.
•Inspect and secure mobile home tie downs.
•Prepare to cover all windows and door openings with shutters or other shielding materials.
•Check food and water supplies.
•Have clean, air-tight containers on hand to store at least two weeks of drinking water (14 gallons per person).
•Stock up on canned provisions.
•Get a camping stove with fuel.
•Keep a small cooler with frozen gel packs handy for packing refrigerated items.
•Check prescription medicines - obtain at least ten days to two weeks supply.
•Stock up on extra batteries for radios, flashlights and lanterns.
•Prepare to store and secure outdoor lawn furniture and other loose and lightweight objects, such as garbage cans, garden tools and potted plants.
•Check and replenish first-aid supplies.
•Have on hand an extra supply of cash.What to do if a hurricane warning
is issued in the area
•Closely monitor radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins.
•Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if ordered to do so.
•Complete preparation activities such as putting up storm shutters and storing loose objects.
•Evacuate areas that might be affected by storm surge flooding.
•If evacuating, leave early (if possible, in daylight).
•Leave your mobile home in any case.
•Notify neighbors and a family member outside of the warned area of your evacuation plans.What to do if you are
evacuating to a hotel or shelter
•If you live in a mobile home, do not stay under any circumstances. They are unsafe in high wind and hurricane conditions, no matter how well fastened to the ground.
•If you live on the coastline or on an offshore island, or live near a river or in a flood plain - leave.
•If you live in a high-rise. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations. Glass doors and widows may be blown out of their casings and weaken the structure - leave.
•Stay with friends or relatives or at a low-rise inland hotel or motel outside flood zones. Leave early to avoid heavy traffic, roads blocked by early flood waters and bridges impassible due to high winds.
•Put food and water out for pets if you cannot take them with you. Public shelters do not allow pets nor do most motels or hotels.
•Hurricane shelters will be available for people who have no other place to go. Shelters may be crowed and uncomfortable, with no privacy and no electricity. Do not leave your home for a shelter until government officials announce on radio and television that a particular shelter is open.
•What to bring to a shelter: first-aid kit, medicine, baby food and diapers, cards, games, books, toiletries, battery-powered radio, flashlight (per person), extra batteries, blankets or sleeping bags, identification, valuable papers like insurance policies and cash.
What to do if you are riding out the storm in your home
•Only stay in a home if you have not been ordered to leave. If you are told to leave, do so immediately.
• Fill sterilized jugs and bottles with water for a two-week supply of drinking water. Fill bathtub and large containers with water for sanitary purposes.
•Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary.
•Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.
•Turn off propane tanks.
•Unplug small appliances.
•Stay inside a well constructed building. In structures, such as a home, examine the building and plan in advance what you will do if winds become strong. Strong winds can produce deadly missiles and structural failure.
•Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway. Take a battery-powered radio, a NOAA Weather Radio, and a flashlight with you to your place of refuge.
•Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors, particularly double inward opening doors and garage doors.
•If you are in a two-story house, go to an interior first-floor room or basement, such as a bathroom, closet or under the stairs.
•Lie on the floor under tables or other sturdy objects.
•Be alert of tornadoes which are often spawned by hurricanes.
•If the "EYE" of the hurricane should pass over your area, be aware that the improved weather conditions are temporary and that the storm conditions will return with winds coming from the opposite direction sometimes in a period of just a few minutes.
What to do after the storm passes
•Stay in your protected area until announcements are made on the radio or television that the dangerous winds have passed.
•If you have evacuated, do not return home until officials announce your area is ready. Remember, proof of residency may be required in order to re-enter evacuation areas.
•If your home or building has structural damage, do not enter until it is checked by officials.
•Beware of outdoor hazards. Avoid downed power lines and any water in which they might be lying. Be alert for poisonous snakes, often driven from their dens by high water. Beware of weakened bridges and washed out roads. Watch for weakened limbs on trees and damaged overhanging structures.
•Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary. The system usually is jammed with calls during and after a hurricane.
•Guard against spoiled food. Use dry or canned food. Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated.
•When cutting up fallen trees, use caution, especially if you are using a chain saw. Serious injuries can occur when these powerful machines snap back or when the chain breaks.
Questions? Need more information? Contact the St. Charles Emergency Preparedness Department at 985-783-5050.
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