Barely a month into the 2010 hurricane season, weather conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic are already ripe for producing potential storms.
The most current phenomenon is a Gulf weather pattern forming south of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, but with a slow-forming weather pattern appearing in the south Atlantic at the same time, it doesn’t hurt Southeast Georgia residents to prepare for the possibility of extreme weather conditions in this region.
Mike Hodges, director of the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency, said families can do at least five things to be prepared well in advance of any storm warning. "First, have a family plan that details what you’ll do, when you’ll do it and where you’ll go," Hodges said.
Making such a plan includes knowing which family members will travel together, whether lodging will be with other relatives, friends or at a hotel along evacuation routes, and knowing which route to take in the event of an evacuation.
The second preparedness tip Hodges offered is to have a kit put together. Because of the kit’s inherent value as a source of nonperishable items, this is one part of the plan that can be executed well in advance of any possible severe weather occurrence.
"Have a kit that covers each family member’s needs," Hodges said, including necessary medications, specialty food items and enough water for each person each day the kit will be used.
If an evacuation becomes necessary, residents should have full tanks of gas and also may benefit from keeping extra fuel on hand well in advance of any approaching storm. Gas in approved containers, kept in a cool dark spot, will keep up to four weeks. If you’re storing fuel for longer periods, such as for generator use, adding stabilizer will help preserve the fuel for up to a year.
ReadyGeorgia.gov and Georgia991.org are two of several preparedness websites that outline current evacuation routes for coastal Georgia. These routes may change as the season progresses, so staying up to date is important.
Additionally, waiting to leave until a mandatory evacuation is called has been shown to delay evacuation speeds tenfold, according to Georgia.gov, so leaving during a voluntary call is always recommended.
Whether you evacuate or stay put, securing your residence is also crucial, Hodges said. "Make sure you have safeguards in place and ready access" to needed supplies. If you must evacuate, secure your home by locking doors and windows, turning off lights and unplugging electrical items. Bring in outdoor furniture and items that would become projectiles in high winds
As storms approach, Hodges encourages residents to stay informed through reliable sources such as the Weather Channel, local media and NOAA radio service. Don’t rely on hearsay, he said, which can lead to misinformation.
Last, spread the knowledge. Hodges said community members should share what they know with friends, neighbors and relatives to ensure everyone is prepared.