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Preparing for the storm

[ ]Cash up. If power is lost, ATMs will not work, nor will credit card networks.

[ ]Get your car ready. Gas up. Inflate the tires. Check the spare. Know where your jack and lug wrench are. Stow an empty gas can. Stash a cellphone charger in the glove box.

[ ] Charge cell phones and cordless tools that may come in handy.

[ ]Have a land-line phone. (In case the cellular network goes out and a power outage makes cordless phones that require electricity useless.) Have change or a phone card available in case a public pay phone is your only alternative.

[ ] Take photos of your house and yard before the storm. Be ready to photograph storm damage after the hurricane passes.

[ ]Store important paperwork. If you have to evacuate, you'll want to take necessary and hard-to-replace documents. Here's what you should store in a waterproof, lockable container:

• Checkbook, savings passbook, credit cards

• Safe deposit box key

• Birth, death, marriage certificates, divorce decree

• Will and power of attorney

• Social Security card and records

• Medical records (living will, health surrogacy, etc.)

• Insurance policies and cards

• Retirement account records

• Recent pay stubs, in case you have to document employment to collect benefits

• Tax returns

• Car titles and registrations

• Mortgage deeds or rental agreements

• Warranties and receipts

• Passports, green cards

• Food stamp, WIC or other benefit cards, paperwork

• Important phone numbers (relatives, bank, insurance company)

• Disc or flash drive on which you back up computer files just before you shut down the computer and evacuate

• Home inventory (on paper, disc, flash drive or video; you should keep another copy in a safe place, maybe at work or at the home of a relative out of state)

[ ] Bring in outdoor furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, accessories.

[ ]Trim loose branches and overgrown shrubbery. Harvest fruits and vegetables that could do harm if wind-borne. Bundle the cuttings and put them in a garbage can in an enclosed area.

[ ] If you have window protection — plywood, shutters, fabric — install it now.

[ ] If you have a large permanent propane gas tank for heating and cooking tie or chain it to a fence or other anchored object. Propane is lighter than water so the tank could float away in flooding.

[ ] Prepare to turn off supply valves, appliance pilot lights, control valves and manual shutoff valves on gas or oil-related items.

[ ] Gas grills may be your only cooking option if power is out, so refill those tanks. Secure the grill to a post or fence so it doesn't blow away. The Propane Education & Research Council strongly discourages keeping grills and their fuel supplies in the garage.

[ ]Drinking water. Store at least a two-week supply for each member of your family. That means at least 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least 2 quarts of liquid per day. Heat can double that need. Children, nursing mothers and sick people will need more. Commercially bottled water lasts essentially forever. If you fill your own empty bottles from the tap, they will be good for about two days at room temperature, two weeks if refrigerated. Have handy a water purification kit.

[ ]Ice. Bag up what you can in the freezer while there's still power. If power is lost, move foods that need to be chilled or frozen to an ice chest with ice once the temperature in the refrigerator or freezer no longer does the job.

[ ]Consumables. Have at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food on hand. Even after the storm passes, it may be several days before stores reopen and restock. High-nutrition foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are optimal. Some suggestions: peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, canned meats such as tuna fish, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, canned juices, milk and soup; staples such as salt, pepper, sugar, instant coffee, iced tea mix or flavored waters; individual packets of condiments such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise that don't need to be refrigerated; comfort foods such as nuts, trail mix , crackers, pretzels, cookies, pastries, fruit roll-ups. If you have a grill, have handy easily grilled items like hot dogs and hamburgers.

[ ]Nonconsumables. Buy throwaway tableware such as paper plates, napkins, paper or plastic cups, plastic forks, knives and spoons, as well as plenty of garbage bags, paper towels and toilet paper. Have plenty of cleaning agents such as liquid soap, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, laundry detergent and a bucket for washing clothes until power is restored. Have a manual can opener handy.

See that your first aid kit has bandages, antiseptics, tape, compresses, pain relievers, anti- diarrhea medication and antacids, as well as meds for routine illnesses such as colds.

Supplies for elderly or the ill should include Depends, bed pads, medications, special foods.

For infants have medicines, diapers, formula, bottles, wipes.

Stock a two-week supply of vitamins and medications.

[ ] Where you will go if you evacuate. A hotel or a friend or relative on high ground are better choices than public shelters, which should be your last resort. If you must stay at a special-needs shelter, call your local emergency operations center now (look in the blue pages in the front of the phone book) to register and arrange for evacuation. If your medical condition requires that you be hospitalized during a disaster, your doctor must make those arrangements in advance.

[ ] Who among out-of-town relatives will be the family information center? Use that person as a clearinghouse for other concerned relatives.

[ ]Where you will go if you take your pet. Most public shelters will not accept pets. Here are the shelters that do:

Pinellas County: Oak Grove Middle School, 1370 S Belcher Road, Clearwater; Thurgood Marshall Middle School, 3901 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg; Dunedin Highland Middle School, 70 Patricia Ave., Dunedin. These shelters will accommodate more than 700 pets total. Preregistration is required: online, at, click on "Departments A-Z," then on "Animal Services"; or call (727) 582-2150. Visit for a list of local hotels and motels that take pets.

Pasco County: No pet-friendly shelters.

Hernando County: Animal Services facility next to the county fairgrounds on U.S. 41.

Hillsborough County: Burnett Middle School, south of Interstate 4 in Seffner; 200 pets and owners; Sickles High School, 7950 Gunn Highway, Tampa; 200 pets and owners. No exotics. No reservations necessary.

If you do take your pet, store in plastic a photo of you and your pet in case you are separated, as well as vaccination paperwork, which is required by shelters and boarding facilities. Label the items with your name and your pet's name including a carrier or crate large enough for your pet to move around. Some other important items:

• ID collar and rabies tag/license and a leash.

• Enough food and treats for two weeks and food and water bowls.

• Medications and care instructions in a waterproof container.

• Newspapers, cat litter, scoop, plastic trash bags for handling waste.

• A comfort item such as a favorite toy or blanket.

• A manual can opener.




Stock at least a

two-week supply

of commercially bottled water. That means at least

1 gallon

a day per



much ice?

As much as you can

fit in the freezer.

If you lose power,

move it to a cooler.


much food?

At least

a 3-day


of nonperishables.

The countdown to landfall has begun. As you watch the hurricane's track, start stockpiling the equipment you'll need to prepare and repair. Get the house and yard buttoned up. These items are available at home centers and hardware stores; prices vary.

weather apps

Keeping track of the weather is important if you decide to stay put for a storm. A weather radio is a must for listening to alerts. If you have a smartphone, these free weather apps can help you.

WeatherBug: This is a real-time customized weather app with local data, live images, maps with radar and animation, seven-day forecast and alerts, with intuitive user interface. Free to $1.99.

The Weather Channel: This app pinpoints your location when it launches, and has features including full-screen interactive radar maps. Free.

iMap Weather Radio: The app sends weather alerts in voice and text forms. If you're on the move, it will update with your current location, which would be perfect if you're evacuating. $9.99 for iOS.

Extension cord

You'll want the heavy-duty variety to power appliances with a generator.

Power up

Portable generators are wonderful, especially if they can keep the air conditioner working. However, you need to have a sound plan before buying one. How much wattage will you need to power all the devices you want to use? What type of connections will you use? Where do you place it to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide from entering your home? Do you know how to safely set it up to prevent electricity from going the wrong way? Home Depot offers a buying guide for generators. You can find it at

Pry bar

Another tool you'll be glad to have if your home is



Duct tape

Not for the windows. Use it to wrap plastic around items you want to protect from moisture, or as a handy holder for general repairs.

Basic hand tools

Have a set of basic tools ready — hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, nails and screws —

to make repairs. Charge cordless tools before

the storm hits.

Fire extinguisher

The last thing you

want during a hurricane

is a fire. Don't use candles or open flames if the

power goes out.

Light the way

Invest in a couple of

battery-powered backup lights that come on when the power goes out.


One per person, with plenty of batteries to last several

days. Or get the kind you power by hand-cranking.


Have one on hand for

emergency roof repairs.

Storm tracker


Combination TV/radio picks up weather and NOAA frequencies and has AC/DC power adapters. If power goes out, hand-crank it to power the radio and halogen spotlight.


If you don't protect your windows before the storm, you may need plywood afterward to cover broken panes. Approximately half an inch thick; thicker is better.


No power? No problem.

Trim debris by hand.

Chain saw

Learn how to use one safely

to trim branches and cut fallen trees.

Light where you need it

Pick up a couple of battery-powered touch lights for instant, portable illumination. No wiring or outlet needed. Some have a magnet on the back so they can hang on the refrigerator. Forget about candles; they're a fire


For cleanup

Bleach, mops, sponges, rags, extra trash bags, long-handled scrapers.

Preparing for the storm 08/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:23pm]
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