The official start of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season is June 1 — next Tuesday. From now through November, we must be prepared for a storm to come out of nowhere and wreak havoc across Long Island, as Tropical Storm Isaias proved last summer. It was a swift-moving tempest that slammed Nassau County with heavy winds, knocking down more than a thousand trees and 338 electric and phone lines, leaving tens of thousands of residents without power for days.
As denizens of an island that juts 118 miles into the Atlantic, we must hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. Each year, the American Red Cross publishes a hurricane-preparedness checklist. We present it here.
Before a storm
• Listen to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service.
• Make sure you have a three-day supply of water — at least one gallon per day per person.
• Be sure to have a three-day supply of food on hand.
• Bring in anything from your yard that can be picked up by the wind, such as bicycles and lawn furniture.
• Have a flashlight handy with extra batteries, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
• Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, board up windows and doors with plywood.
• Check your first aid kit to ensure that it’s well supplied.
• Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
• Have a seven-day supply of medications and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane).
• Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
• Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
• Gather copies of personal documents (medication lists and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to your home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies).
• Create an evacuation plan with members of your household. Planning, and practicing, the plan will minimize confusion and fear during the storm.
• Have cellphones and chargers on hand.
• Create a family and emergency contact list.
• Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
• Evacuate if advised by authorities. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
• Be certain to have baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers).
• Check pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl).
• Because standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, you should have a flood insurance plan. For more information on flood insurance, visit the National Flood Insurance Program website, www.FloodSmart.gov.
In your hurricane go bag, you should have:
• A multi-purpose tool
• Extra cash
• Emergency blanket
• Map(s) of the area
• Tools and supplies for securing your home
• An extra set of car and house keys
• Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
• Rain gear
• Insect repellent and sunscreen
• Camera for photos of damage
After a storm
• Continue listening to NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
• Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding, even after the storm has passed.
• If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
• Drive only if necessary, and again, avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
• Stay away from loose or dangling electric lines and report them to the power company.
• Stay out of any building that has water around it.
• Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of any damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
• Use flashlights, not candles, in the dark.
• Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you’re sure it’s not contaminated.
• Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
• Wear protective clothing, and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
• Watch pets closely, and keep them under your direct control.
• Use the phone only for emergency calls.
If your community has experienced a hurricane, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website, www.RedCross.org/SafeandWell, to let your family and friends know about your welfare.