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Keep your family healthy in storm season
Health advice
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Five years ago, the Atlantic hurricane season was the most active season in recorded history. Events that year shattered numerous records with an estimated 3,865 deaths and damages of around $130 billion. Of the 28 storms that year, five of the season’s seven major hurricanes — Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma — were responsible for most of the destruction.
At the start of this year’s hurricane season, the NOAA predicted a more active season due, in part, to the record warm ocean temperatures. The hurricane season in the Atlantic began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends on the same date in November.
September and October are normally prime time for tropical developments in the Caribbean and Gulf, but so far Hurricane Igor has been the Atlantic season’s most powerful storm and Hurricane Earl the most powerful in the Eastern Pacific. To date, there have been 12 depressions, 10 storms and four hurricanes since the season began, causing 47 fatalities and damages of $2.285 billion, and we’re only about half way through the 2010 season.
We are repeatedly reminded that disaster preparedness is extremely important, but few people ever prepare for the yearly hurricane season, which is why we promote National Preparedness Month each September. The campaign is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools. Two immediate actions that families can take are creating a family disaster plan and assembling a disaster supplies kit.

Create a plan and make an emergency kit
• Gather information about hazards. Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans.
• Meet with your family to create a plan to include provisions for family pets and elderly family members. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate. Pick two places to meet: a spot right outside your home for an emergency and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Choose an out-of-state friend or relative as your “family check-in contact” for everyone to call if the family gets separated.
• Implement your plan
1. Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid, how to use a fire extinguisher and how and when to turn off utilities in your home.
2. Teach children how and when to call 911.
3. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with enough items to meet your needs for at least three days:
• water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days)
• a three-day supply of non-perishable foods per person
• one change of clothing and footwear per person
• one blanket or sleeping bag and pillow per person
• a first-aid kit containing sterile gloves, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, iodine/alcohol pads; adhesive medical tape, pain reliever, emergency mylar blanket for warmth and to prevent shock, thermometer, prescription medications and any prescribed medical prescriptions or supplies
• emergency tools (including a battery-powered NOAA weather radio or portable radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries)
• cell phone with charger
• an extra set of car keys and cash
• special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
4. Keep important family documents in a waterproof container ready to travel.
• Practice and update your plan at least once every six months. Ask questions to make sure your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules. Conduct drills. Replace stored water and food every six months.
This information was provided by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. For more preparedness information, go to, or

Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.
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