WHAT TO DO NOW
Louisianans are encouraged to help their friends, neighbors and loved ones in the path of the storm be prepared:
- Download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which provides tips on how to stay safe before, during and after a hurricane and also provides emergency alerts and other tools. Talk with your family about what to do. Discussing severe weather ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children. http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane
- Find out where they will get information on when and where to evacuate, especially if they are visiting from out of town and aren’t familiar with evacuation routes and procedures.
- Set up your emergency communications plan with them NOW. How will you get in touch and know they're safe if phone lines and cell towers go down?
- Ensure they have an emergency kit with supplies for at least 3 days, including food, water, medications, important documents, clothing, a crank radio, back-up chargers for phones, etc. Find a full list here:http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family
- Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
- Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a tropical system causes flooding. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flash drive that you can carry with you on your house or car keys.
PROTECT YOUR HOME
- Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or invest in one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
- Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans (away from stairs and exits) to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurting someone.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
- Given the risks of weathering a storm in place, mobile home residents should evacuate early in response to severe weather. Never ride out a tropical storm, hurricane or tornado in a mobile home – even if it’s in a non-evacuation zone.
- Remember that standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.
- Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
- Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.
- Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
Then, If You Can, Do This
- Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
- Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
- Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, such as bicycles and patio furniture.
If You Still Have Time, Do This
- Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
- Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home or within the community. If you shut your gas off, a professional is required to turn it back on.
- Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur.
If You Have Pets or Livestock
- Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.
- Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or other trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.
- Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.
HOW TO HELP
In the immediate aftermath of a large disaster, the best way to help is to make a financial contribution to the aid agencies responding. Once emergency response agencies have established their response structure, you can also reach out to find out what specific needs have arisen and the best way to help meet those needs. Do not drive into the affected area to deliver goods to volunteer unless you have already coordinated with an aid agency to confirm the need for your help and the ability to utilize it. (This article provides a deeper explanation of the best and worst ways to help: http://money.howstuffworks.com/10-worst-things-donate-after-disaster.htm)
Because of the size, complexity and cost of responding to large-scale disasters, the Red Cross utilizes local Red Cross and community volunteers first, then deploys skilled, trained volunteers from its nationwide network of Red Cross chapters. If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, it is important to sign up now and complete training so that you are ready to help your community when the need arises. Visit redcross.org/louisiana to fill out a volunteer application.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.