Preparing for Hurricane Dennis

The National Hurricane Center said that in recorded history, there have never been four tropical storms formed in the Atlantic so early in the hurricane season. With Hurricane Dennis now heading for the Gulf Coast and soon affecting other states inland, the American Red Cross is encouraging individuals, families and communities to heed the advice of officials and take precautions.

Hurricane Dennis has sustained winds of approximately 110 miles per hour as it heads toward the coast. It may speed up before it makes landfall. All non-residents of the Florida Keys have been ordered to leave the area, and more evacuation orders may come. Forecasters predict that Dennis will be west of the Florida Keys on July 9 and approach the central Gulf Coast on July 10 with landfall near Mobile on July 11.

The The American Red Cross, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency makes these suggestions for anyone living or working within the path of a tropical storm or hurricane:

Prepare a Personal Disaster and Evacuation Plan

  • Meet with your family to create a plan. Discuss the information you have gathered and why it is important to prepare for a disaster.
  • Show and explain to each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches, and how to use a fire extinguisher. Remember, if the gas is shut-off, only a professional can turn it back on.
  • Identify ahead of time where you would go if you are told to evacuate.
  • Choose several different places – a friend's home outside of the affected area, a motel or a shelter.
  • Get a good map and be familiar with your community's evacuation routes.
  • Listen to local media broadcasts or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest storm conditions.
  • If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • In case you have to evacuate, be sure to bring your disaster supplies it including medications, extra clothing, pillows and blankets, and other hygiene and comfort supplies, along with copies of essential papers and documents.
  • Be sure to make advanced safety preparations for your pets. Be aware that pets are not allowed in Red Cross shelters. Contact your local humane society or veterinarian for suggestions.
  • Ask an out-of-town friend or family member to act as "family contact" for everyone to call in case of separation. It is often easier to call long distance after a disaster than to make local calls.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

Gather enough emergency supplies to meet your needs for at least three days. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy to carry, water resistant containers. It's also a good idea to keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car. Disaster supplies kit should include:

  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and ready-to-eat canned goods, such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruit, juice boxes, etc. Please remember that you want to replace stored water and food every 6 months.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
  • A manual can opener
  • Made copies of important documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies and social security cards. Original documents should be secured in a locked box or safety deposit box.
  • Comfortable clothing and footwear
  • One blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • A first aid kit, including prescription medicines
  • Emergency tools, including tools to turn off utilities.
  • An extra set of car keys
  • Cash/Credit cards
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disables family members
  • An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses

Prepare for High Winds

  • Pick a day in June to conduct a home hazard hunt and perimeter search, in which you inspect your home for items that can move, fall, break or cause a fire.
  • Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs
  • Install hurricane or high-wind shutters on your windows or pre-cut plywood to cover windows, and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors
  • Strengthen garage doors and un-reinforced masonry
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile

Flood Safety Tips

  • Identify several evacuation locations
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit
  • Listen to local radio or television reports
  • Be alert to signs of flash flooding
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains
  • If your car stalls in water, abandon it and get to higher ground
  • Turn off the utilities in your home only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so.

Home Depot, which is working with the Red Cross to conduct hurricane preparedness clinics in impacted areas, is routing additional products to Gulf-area stores. The company has scheduled hurricane preparedness clinics for July 9.

Home Depot is mobilizing hundreds of trucks to the potential strike zone. The trucks are carrying hurricane preparedness items, including plywood, generators, batteries, tarps, flashlights and bottled water. The initial re-supply efforts are expected to continue throughout the entire potential strike zone until Hurricane Dennis makes landfall.

The hurricane preparedness clinics, "ABCs of Hurricane Preparation," use Red Cross expert information to educate communities on ways to help protect their homes during the hurricane season. The free, interactive clinics will provide communities with tips and advice on hurricane preparation, as well as showcase the appropriate equipment and materials needed to secure homes and businesses. The clinic leaders will walk classes through detailed steps on how to prepare yards, roofs, windows and doors for the season.

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