Ready Today, Safer Tomorrow

By Lina Younes

The 2012 Hurricane Season will officially begin on June 1st. However, two named tropical storms on the list have made their early appearance in May weeks before the official season opening. Even though NOAA is predicting a near-normal 2012 hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea area, it is never too early to get ready before a storm approaches our shores. Even if you do not reside along coastal areas, you could feel the wrath of a hurricane inland from strong winds, torrential rains, flooding, subsequent landslides or debris flow.

So, what should you do as soon as possible? Develop your own emergency kit and hurricane preparedness plan for you and your family. Here are some of the steps you should take in advance to prepare for this event and stay safe.

  • In developing your emergency supplies kit, store up on canned food, bottled water, and other supplies like batteries.
  • Place matches in a waterproof container
  • Stock up on paper cups, plates, plastic utensils
  • Remember to stock up on pet food for your pets
  • Have important family documents on hand in a portable waterproof container
  • Have cash on hand
  • Have books, games, activities for children
  • Have a battery-powered portable radio
  • Have a manual can opener
  • Around the house, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts
  • Learn about hurricane evacuation routes in your area
  • Using technology, you can sign up to get text messages from FEMA with updated information about the storm
  • Have emergency phone numbers on hand to report power outages with your local utility company or get information on local shelters

After the hurricane is long gone, you might still have to deal with the storm aftermath.  There are certain tips that should help you to stay safe and recover faster after the storm.

  • Do not use a generator inside your home, garage or other enclosed areas. Carbon monoxide in generator exhaust can easily build up with lethal consequences.
  • If your drinking water is not safe, boil for one minute to kill water-borne diseases.
  • Mold growth may be a problem after flooding, get more information on flood cleanup to avoid indoor air quality problems.

Hope you find these tips useful. Any personal suggestions on preparing for a storm?

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.