Once we have received the notice to evacuate or if you choose to leave before that, here are some things you need to do before you leave:
- Fill your car with gas.
- Make arrangements for your pets if you’re going to a shelter.
- Flip the latches on your hurricane windows (out). Close your storm shutters or board up your windows.
- Take in your porch and deck furniture, potted plants, yard decorations, bird feeders, and barbecue grill—anything that could become a projectile.
- Close your home’s windows, lock doors, unplug appliances.
- Turn off your home’s electrical main power switch.
- Turn off your home’s propane gas line at the tank, not at your gas grill or other outlets. (Note: you’ll need to contact your propane supplier to turn the gas back on after the weather emergency is over.)
- Turn off your water to the house.
- Turn off water supply to any refrigerator icemakers or ice machines in your home.
- Clean out your refrigerator and freezer – completely. If you leave food in your freezer, place a container of ice cubes in your the freezer. When you return, you will be able to tell if the cubes melted and re-froze, to help you decide whether the food is safe to eat. Make sure your ice maker is off.
- If you leave food in your refrigerator, turn it to the coldest setting and keep it closed. Once the electricity is out, your refrigerator will keep foods cool for 4 hours if left unopened.
- Thawed food is usually okay if still “refrigerator cold.” Maintain proper food sanitation in food preparation and disposal.
- Take your emergency supplies (and your pet’s emergency supplies) with you.
Avoid the inconveniences of a mandatory evacuation by leaving early, before a mandatory evacuation is called. If you leave early, you can take whatever route you want. If you wait for a mandatory evacuation to be called, you must drive the evacuation route. Hotels will be crowded or unavailable because so many people are heading inland, and you’ll have to deal with excessive delays on the roads.
Shelters should be used as a last resort, and most will not accept pets. As we said in an earlier post, shelters are a life boat, not a cruise ship.
Remember, be prepared; stay safe.