Growing up on the Atlantic Coast means I've had a fair amount of experience weathering storms. And while I live in the city now, our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay means we're susceptible to many of the same dangers. In 2003, a simple shift in a storm's direction, sent Hurricane Isabel barreling up our bay. With little time to prepare, our downtown streets were soon flooded and many homes under water. As we now anxiously await Hurricane Earl's arrival, we're quickly prepping for the possible storm.
1. Get updates. A storm can weaken or strengthen as it runs its course, so it's best to keep a watchful eye on it. I prefer getting my information online, usually by following NOAA weather (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Of course, there many other websites out there; Stormpulse lets you track storms and their forecasted paths with a website that's a visual treat. Do you rely on TV or the internet when it comes finding out the latest updates?
2. Secure the outside your home. Patios, decks, and balconies are extremely vulnerable, so it's especially important to remove or secure anything that might blow away. Pots, grills, trashcans, and furniture are the first to go, but don't forget about removing trees or limbs that may damage your house or utility lines. Decide what is best for your situation, but often it's necessary to tape or board up windows as well.
3. Secure inside your home. It's wise to assume you might lose power, so have water and food on hand for you and your pets. Also, have any medications you may need nearby. Check flashlights and radios to make sure they are working and keep extra batteries with them. If you do lose power, turn off major appliances such as air conditioners and water heaters to reduce damage. Always unplug sensitive electronic equipment.
4. Park your vehicle in a safer place. Make sure you have a full tank of gas as well as being mindful of where you park your car during a storm. This is especially important — and often difficult — for those of us relying only on street parking. I always make sure my car is not parked under any trees. Even if this means driving my car to the closest parking lot and walking home, it's much easier to deal with this minor inconvenience, than having your car damaged by fallen trees or branches. If you are in lower lying areas, where flooding from storm surges is a real possibility, it's wise to move it to higher ground.
5. Prepare your Boat. If you're a boat owner, you have an added worry, one I know well. We're currently in the process of deciding whether to secure it in the water with extra mooring lines or to store it on it's trailer parked away from low-lying areas.
Is there anything you do to prepare that's not on our list?
Image: Baltimore Sun