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Hurricane Preparedness 
 
by Jean Bailey Robor June 10, 2005

During and After the storm....

Hope for the best but anticipate the worst. Determine the safest room in your house, if you choose to stay. A safe room should be located in the middle away from any windows if possible. In most dwellings this would be a centrally located bathroom. Put your emergency supplies in here where they will be accessible should you need them. Be sure to wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.

You may need to evacuate quickly. If you must evacuate, use the route designated by authorities. A short cut may be dangerous during the storm. Before leaving, post a note stating where you are going, then turn off all gas and electricity. If staying, unplug all electrical appliances except refrigerators and freezers. Turn them to their coldest settings to keep food from perishing as long as possible due to power failure. You may want to invest in a cooler to help foods stay cold. A full freezer can keep food cold for up to 48 hours. That time is cut in half for only half-filled freezers.

After 2 hours of no power, a refrigerator begins to get too warm to keep food fresh and safe to consume. If it seems the power outage will be longer than 2 hours, pack perishables in coolers surrounded by ice. If you find that foods have been over 40 degrees for more than 2 hours, discard any meat, dairy products except for hard cheeses, refrigerated cakes, pies, or pastries, casseroles, soups, canned biscuits, and mayonnaise.

Remember safety above all. Watch out for downed power lines when venturing outside your home. If you're resetting circuit breakers be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes and stand on something dry. If you have any doubts or cannot reset your breakers, call a licensed electrician. If you use a portable generator, NEVER use it indoors.

Generators are made for outdoor use and are dangerous when used inside a dwelling, even a garage. If you need to be away from home, or are asleep at night, turn the generator off. Do not venture outside if lightning is present. Hundreds of people in the United States are struck each year. Staying away from the ocean is imperative during a hurricane. Large waves can cause devastating storm surges that can damage trees, vehicles, and buildings.

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