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Essential hurricane survival tips

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Surviving a hurricane or any other natural disaster depends largely upon being educated and prepared. Do you know what steps you should take before, during and after a hurricane to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy? What if you lose everything? How do you start to regain your life? What essential documents should you protect? What types of obstacles should you be prepared to face? The answers to these questions could mean the difference between life and death.

Always keep legal documents safe and accessible.

In the aftermath of a hurricane you don't want to find that you've lost them. In the event of an evacuation, items of identification and important phone numbers should be on your person. Have a water-proof box handy for storage of documents in case of flooding. Consider including some cash in case your access to bank accounts is interrupted.

Keep these essential documents in a safe deposit box.

*prescription information
*immunization records
*school records
*bank and credit card information
*insurance policies
*marriage and divorce certificates
*custody agreements

Be sure that you have a good first aid kit for emergency medical needs. Do not skimp on this kit. Purchase or assemble the best kit you can afford. Add any medicinal items specific to your needs.

*More than one person in your family or group should be educated in first aid.

*Think about taking classes together as a family.

*Contact the Red Cross for information on classes.

*Teach your children how and when to dial 911 for emergencies.

*Keep vital prescriptions filled.

Stock up on water and non-perishable foods. Keep a well stocked pantry. Include food that don't need to be cooked. Canned foods are especially good for this as they have a long shelf life. Choose items for optimum nutrition. You should have at least a three day supply.

Stock up on personal care items. Store spares in a watertight container. Include items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tissue and feminine products. You may not need the extra supplies, but you'll be glad to have one less thing to be concerned about.

Do you live in a high risk area? If so, you should always be ready for high winds and flooding.

*You'll need plywood, hammer and nails to board up windows.
*Hip boots keep your feet and hands warm and dry and protect against contaminants.
*You would do well to have a life boat, oars and life vests in case of extreme flooding.

In the event of a hurricane, shut off your gas and electricity. This prevent hazards such as electric shock and gas explosions.

Protect your property from damage and theft. If you have items such as boats and other large vehicles take proper precautions to keep them safe. Keep a video or photo log of all valuables for insurance purposes in your safety deposit box.

All family members should know your emergency plan. Where will you meet in the event you are separated? What will you do with your pets? Where are your emergency supplies and food? How will you contact each other if phone service is out?

Additional items you will be glad to have on hand:

*flashlights
*portable crank radio
*blankets
*extra clothing
*spare batteries

Emergency supplies should be stored in watertight containers.

Your yard should be clear of debris. Anything could become a dangerous flying object in hurricane winds. This includes dead wood from trees and bushes.

Hazardous chemicals should be stored in covered containers. Keep them as far away from your home as possible. This will avert contamination or combustion.

Is your vehicle well maintained? Are fluids full, tires inflated, and belts and hoses in good condition? Do you have a spare tire and gas can on board? If you need to evacuate, your car becomes your survival station. Be sure it's well stocked and reliable.

Remain indoors during a hurricane. Go to the best reinforced room. Usually this is a bathroom. Stay away from windows. Keep your valuable documents and survival items with or near you at all times. Clean your bathtub and fill with water for drinking or other uses.

Move to a higher room or the roof at the first sign of flooding.

The eye of the hurricane is a calm period in the middle of the storm. The storm will begin again once the eye has passed. There is still more to come. Be sure the entire storm is over before you leave your shelter.

After the storm be cautious about venturing out to survey damage. Mudslides, downed power lines and more can cause injury or death even after the hurricane is over. Watch for animals, both wild and domestic, that have been displaced by the hurricane. Stress could cause them to lash out at you even if they are normally docile.

Check on your friends, neighbors, and family members. Once it's safe to go out, be certain everyone who needs assistance or medical attention has gotten the care they need. Emergency crews can't always get to everyone in a timely manner.

Clean-up efforts should begin as quickly as possible. This prevents the spread of disease and insures that no further damage or injury should occur. Ask your local Red Cross for instruction on safe clean up. Have a professional check your home for damage prior to turning your gas, water, and electricity back on.

After the state of emergency is over, take inventory of your personal possessions. Document any hurricane damage using photos or videos for insurance purposes. Don't discard anything until your insurance company has documented the damage as well.

A hurricane can be a devastating experience. Be sure your loved ones ride out the storm both mentally and physically.

Disclaimer: The above tips are not all inclusive. They are intended for general informational purposes only. In the event of a hurricane, or other emergency, contact your local authorities for more complete information.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

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