Stormy weather, already

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 7, 2013

Only days into the 2013 hurricane season, the nation is experiencing its first named storm of the season.

With such a quick start, local officials said Thursday it should serve as a reminder on the importance of being prepared.

“This year, the predictions are that there will be a moderate season, but I don’t go by those predictions,” said Susan Harris, Covington County’s emergency management agency director.

“Think back and be reminded of Opal and the different hurricanes that have hit here,” she said. “People forget that we’re in the strike zone, and that’s why we need to be prepared. The storm’s path, direction and speed can change quickly, and it could become a devastating time for us if we’re not prepared.”

A basic disaster supply kit should include:

• one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation;

• at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;

• a battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both;

• flashlight and extra batteries;

• a first aid kit;

• whistle to signal for help;

• moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;

• wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;

• manual can opener for food;

• local maps; and,

• cell phone with chargers, inverter or a solar charger.

“I think you should always be prepared to the max. It’s imperative to have all your supplies together, to make sure that you have a plan and to make sure that you have a way to get your weather information.

“The key is knowing what is going on,” she said. “To be sure that happens, you really need to have a NOAA all-weather radio because you won’t be able to depend on cell phones.”

The last time a major hurricane hit the U.S., pounding beaches and towns with winds of more than 115 miles per hour, was last year when Hurricane Sandy devastated the Atlantic coast.

Hurricanes season runs through Nov. 30.

“It’s vital that you have these plans and these preparations in place before a storm hits,” Harris said.