Eyes around the world remain fixed on the weather, watching Hurricane Irene unleash its fury. The hurricane, now a Category 1 again, is headed straight toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Randy Morgan, a Huntsville resident watching the storm, has a beach home in North Carolina.
“It’s scary,” Morgan said. “Those hurricanes can do some serious damage. I’ve been there.” Irene raged through the Caribbean Tuesday, flooding homes and wreaking havoc on residential communities. Residents took refuge in schools and churches, and more than a million people were without electricity.
So far, there was one fatality related to Irene, a woman who was killed in Puerto Rico.
Forecasters warned it could get worse with Irene potentially growing into a Category 4 hurricane by the time it makes a landfall in the U.S. this weekend, most likely hitting North Carolina. Irene could even make its way up the coast Sunday toward the Northeast region.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which is located in Atlanta – about 250 miles east of Huntsville, advises folks who may be in the storm’s path to make sure they have taken the proper weather emergency precautions.
First, stock up. Specifically:
- Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person).
- A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food.
- A first aid kit and manual.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
- Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
- Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
- Prescription medicines and special medical needs.
- Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
- Disposable cleaning cloths, such as “baby wipes” for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
- Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
- An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
You should also have a plan in place that takes the following into consideration:
- Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
- Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the hurricane strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuate. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
- Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where to find it and how to use it.
- Locate and secure your important papers, such as insurance policies, wills, licenses, stocks, etc.
- Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
- Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
For more from the CDC on hurricane preparedness, click here. Meanwhile, millions of people around the globe will be watching – some, like Morgan, with more at stake than others.