Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Are you prepared for hurricane season?

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  • To find out more about preparing for hurricane season, check out our special section June 18.

Every year, as June 1 approaches, residents close to the coast prepare for hurricane season, and residents of the Crossroads are no exception.

This year, National Hurricane Preparedness Week was Sunday to Saturday, and the National Hurricane Center website offers videos aimed at educating residents about the power and danger hurricanes can pose. The theme for Friday is Get a Plan!, and all Crossroads residents should do just that.

What some people don't realize is that a plan should not only cover preparation before a hurricane or tropical storm comes. It also needs to cover what to do during and after a storm has hit. But the most important part of hurricane preparedness is what you do before a storm ever forms. Here are basic guidelines everyone should follow from ready.gov.

First, families should create an emergency kit of basic things your family will need in the event of a disaster, such as clean water, food, medication and other supplies to last for at least three days. When a storm comes, emergency workers will respond, but they can't get to everyone immediately. You should also create a family communication plan. Cellphone towers might be disrupted, so know where landlines are available and have an out-of-town relative or friend as a contact.

When securing your property, it's important to know your surroundings. Know the elevation of your home and the locations of any nearby levees and dams and find out if they pose any risk to you. Then, cover all of your home's windows with storm shutters, 5/8-inch plywood or laminated glass with impact-resistant glazing. Tape does not stop a window from breaking. Trim trees and shrubs around your home to be wind-resistant, clear rain gutters and downspouts, reinforce your garage door and have a place to bring in outdoor furniture, decorations and other loose objects. Residents can also purchase a generator in case the power goes out during a storm.

When a hurricane comes, make sure to listen to the radio or TV for alerts and information. Keep a supply of water for cleaning and sanitation by filling the bathtub and other large containers. Turn off your utilities if you are told to do so. If the order is given to evacuate, plan your destination beforehand. You should also have places planned for your family to meet along the route if you get separated. Follow recommended evacuation routes, as shortcuts may be blocked. Make sure you take your pets with you, but be aware that some hurricane shelters allow only service animals.

After the storm, residents should continue to listen for updates from local and national news organizations and be aware of possible flood risks. If you evacuated, do not return until told it is safe to do so. Check your home for any structural damage or loose power or gas lines and report any downed power lines. Avoid using tap water until you are sure it is not contaminated.

Hurricanes are immense, powerful forces of nature and should not be taken lightly. But with enough preparation, residents can ensure they are ready.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.