With the start of the 2009 hurricane season on June 1st, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in a recent press release, is urging Americans to assess their personal readiness to respond to emergencies.

“If you live a hurricane-prone area, ensuring your family is prepared is common sense,” said Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator. “We never know where the next hurricane or disaster will strike, but we know that the more we do now to prepare, the better the outcome will be. FEMA will continue to work with our state, local, and federal partners to ensure that we are prepared, but it is also important that all Americans take the necessary steps now — like developing a family disaster plan — before a hurricane or disaster strikes."

FEMA offers the following advice:
  • Check personal preparations such as emergency kit supplies (enough to last at least 72 hours), note messages from local emergency officials, and rehearse emergency evacuation routes, even if you live outside of hurricane-risk areas.
  • Have essential items ready, including: a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, medicines, non-perishable food, a hand-operated can opener, a utility knife and first aid supplies.
  • Copy and store important documents in a waterproof bag. These may include medical records, contracts, property deeds, leases, banking records, insurance records and birth certificates.
  • Consider the potential needs of everyone in the household. If your household includes a person with a disability, special steps to assist them may be necessary and should be considered now. Pets also require special handling. They may become agitated during the onset of a storm, so a pet carrier is a must for safe travel. Pet owners should research pet boarding facilities now within a certain radius of where you may evacuate, since animals may not be welcome in all shelters or hotels.
  • Purchase a flood insurance policy. Not only are homes and businesses in hurricane-prone states at risk for flood, but inland flooding is common in nearby states. To assess flood risk for your home or find a local agent selling national flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call toll-free at 1-888-379-9531.