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Jun 11, 2008

At The Beginning Of The Hurricane Season

Double-check to ensure the supplies in your Hurricane Preparedness Kit are both well-stocked and fresh. Inflate air beds to assure they don't need patching or replacing. Check expiration dates on canned foods. Use a battery tester so you know they will work when you need them to (most batteries have a tester already attached to the package, but you can buy one separately if you want to).
Recognize that your hot water heater contains 40 to 60 gallons of fresh drinking water. The water in a hot water tank can keep one person alive and healthy for more than a month. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve. Run water out of the tank to remove any built up sediment that has collected at the bottom of the tank. To get the water out of the tank after a storm you will need to open the plumbing system by opening any hot water faucet in the house. This will release the vacuum in the tank. You must turn off the electrical breaker to the hot water tank or unplug it to prevent damage if the electricity is restored before water service.
Purchase a generator. Generally, a generator should be big enough to run your refrigerator, a lamp or two, and any fans. If you absolutely must have air conditioning, be prepared to pay handsomely for a generator that can handle it. Search the web for generator wattage calculators to make sure you don't buy more generator than you need - your wallet will thank you at the gas pump.
Purchase several 5-gallon gas cans. Fuel is usually scarce after a hurricane, and many stations even limit the amount of gas you can purchase after waiting in line. Having multiple cans will allow you to stock up. Buy a bottle of fuel stabilizer for when the power is restored. Mix this with your gas so that it will keep until you are able to use it. Also, fill and run your generator with the mixture for about 10 minutes so that the fuel system does not gum up while in storage. Change the oil and/or filter before you store it, that way it's nice and fresh next season.
If you already have a generator, make sure it is in working order before hurricane season. There is nothing worse than finding out that your generator investment needs repairs after you need to use it.
If you are unable to purchase a generator, buy a DC to AC converter for your car. With it you will use your car as a portable electric generator. They cost $25 to $100 and are available in the automotive section of department stores. If you should lose power to your house, you will be able run a radio, TV, light, refrigerator, or other low wattage appliances from your car. You will need a heavy duty extension cord to run the power into your house.
Do not run the or any gasoline generator in the garage as the carbon monoxide poisoning could kill you.
Perform maintenance on the car you will be evacuating with if it becomes necessary. When's the last time you changed the oil or the filter? Is the battery fully charged? Have you replaced the spare that you had to use the last time you evacuated? Since hurricane season happens during the warmer months, make sure your coolant is topped off as well.
Buy a bicycle, if you don't already own one, so that you will have a backup mode of transportation. After a big storm hits there may not be any gasoline available for days or even weeks. If your neighborhood is destroyed you will be able to go for supplies or even ride out of the area. Make certain that the bike tires are pumped up before a storm hits. Have an inner tube patch kit and an air pump, too.
Watch or listen to the news to learn when a hurricane is approaching. This will help you create a plan of action.
Continue keeping in touch with your friends and family. They will get comfort just knowing where you are, how you are faring, and how close the storm is to you. If you are in an area that is on the outskirts of the storm, tell them. Assure them that you are all doing good. Remember, they only know what they are told on the TV and their imagination runs wild. If you lose your telephone power, call them at least once with your cell phone, to tell them you do not have phone service, and that you will call as soon as it is restored. This way you do not have to use up your cell phone minutes which should be saved for emergencies.
Purchase "Self Powered Radios" AND "Self Powered Flashlights" Some of these have the Weatherband, and even can recharge your cell phone.

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