Here are some things you and your family can do to be ready for possible impacts from Hurricane Florence.
Questions you should keep in mind
Would you be ready if you had to spend several days without power?Would you have what you need at home if downed trees or floodwaters make it difficult to get around town?Are there people in your life who would need extra help to get prepared?
Things to do around the house
It doesn't necessarily take a direct hit from hurricane-force winds to knock over trees or cause flooding in inland areas. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management suggests doing these things ahead of a tropical storm or hurricane:
Look for lightweight objects around the yard such as patio furniture, garbage cans and other things that you may want to secure or bring inside.If there's time, trim or remove damaged tree limbs that might fall on the home.Clear downspouts, drains and gutters blocked by leaves or debris.If you have a generator, test it out and make sure it runs.Make sure you're not low on gasoline or cash, in the event of long or widespread power outages.
VDEM breaks down disaster readiness into three steps: get a kit, make a plan, stay informed. Here are some of the highlights of what VDEM advises; there may be other things you'll want to consider based on your situation.
You can find more checklists and resources on www.vaemergency.gov/hurricanes.
Check your kit
Food and water for at least three days: Stock it with food items that are nonperishable, and 1 gallon of water per person per day is recommended.
Flashlight and batteries
Hygiene: Toilet paper, plastic garbage bags, soap, sanitizing wipes, etc.
Health: First-aid supplies, spare glasses, prescriptions and extra medication, and necessary equipment or devices.
Radio: especially one that runs on batteries or a hand crank and receives NOAA Weather Radio.
You may already have many of these things around the house, but a quiet weekend could be a good time to assemble them in a plastic bin. Check the kit occasionally to see what needs to be added or replaced. Get in the habit of adding an item or two each time you visit the store, instead of waiting until the last minute.
Make a plan
Gather numbers: Don't rely entirely on a smartphone to find what you need. Write out contact information for workplaces, schools, doctors, insurance and other important numbers, and keep it in your kit.
Figure out how to get in touch: Designate meeting places and an out-of-town point of contact for the family.
Make copies: Create backups of your important documents or files and store them in a secure, waterproof place.
Check on loved ones: If you have a family member living at an assisted care facility - especially one in a coastal area - get in touch with the administrators to find out about their plan. If they live alone, make sure someone local can look in on them before and after the storm. If you or someone you know requires extra assistance because of visual impairment or limited mobility, dialing 2-1-1 can put you in touch with operators who can provide details about resources in the community.
Know your source: There are many weather apps out there, but some may not be very useful for predicting situations that are out of the ordinary. The National Weather Service and local media outlets are likely to have the most reliable and detailed information during fast-changing situations.
Have a backup: Have more than one way to get weather alerts and news, especially if the power goes out or the cell network is overloaded. This is where an inexpensive battery-powered weather/AM/FM radio is a good thing to have. You can also sign up for official text message alerts from your local emergency managers.
For local alerts, visit www.vaemergency.gov and scroll toward the bottom-right area of the page. Look for a drop-down menu beneath "sign up for local alerts."