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What's a watch and a warning
A satellite view of Hurricane Felix showed it near filled the Gulf of Mexico with clouds - photo by NOAA graphic

A watch means hurricane conditions are likely within 36 hours. When a watch is issued, the American Red Cross and local EMAs suggest you take these steps:

• Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)

• Check your disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed

• Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture, etc.)

• Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters; if you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood

• Turn the refrigerator and freezer  to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out

• Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, and bottles

• Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances

• Fill the gas tank of your most reliable car, and remove unnecessary items from the trunk and interior

• Talk with members of your house hold and go over your evacuation plan -- planning and practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.

• Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan; plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required, 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

• Because standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at

Warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours. When a warning is issued, actions should be immediately taken to protect life and property. A hurricane with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher is expected in a specified coastal area in 24 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though the winds may have subsided below hurricane intensity.

• Listen to a radio or television for official instructions

• If in a mobile home, check tie-downs and evacuate immediately

• Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container

• If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows.

• Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy

• Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light

• If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored

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