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Hurricane Season Preparation: Don't be caught off guard

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As most of you are aware, hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. So, are you ready? Are you fully prepared to evacuate in case of a hurricane? Have you briefed your family on evacuation? Are you fully stocked with supplies, gas and important documents? 

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you're not ready for hurricane season. The question that you need to ask yourself is what actions should I take to prepare? The National Hurricane Center says, "Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm surge, high winds, tornadoes and flooding. This means it is important for your family to have a plan." 

Your family plan should include a checklist that is posted somewhere readily available in your household. The National Hurricane Center checklist includes the following: 

Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. 

Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community. 

Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles. 

Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact. 

Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. 

Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911. 

Check your insurance coverage - flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. 

Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit. 

Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors. 

Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes. 

Your hurricane supply kit should include water (at least 1 gallon daily per person and food three to seven days, blankets, clothing, first aid kit, prescription drugs, baby items, plenty of gas, flashlight with batteries, radio, extra cash, keys, toys/games for the kids and important documents such as insurance, medical records, recall roster, bank account numbers, social security cards, etc. 

If you and your family have to evacuate, plan an evacuation route now. Also, if you're new to the Emerald Coast, I urge you to test your route(s) as part of your evacuation plan. A good rule of thumb is to expect traffic surges and long lines at the gas pumps. 

Every member of "Team Eglin" and their families must take hurricane preparation seriously. This is why we have hurricane preparation exercises. Please take care of yourself and family needs ... don't be caught off-guard.