Recent natural disasters have emphasized the importance of emergency preparedness. While our attention has been recently focused on the floods and the drought, it’s important to not forget that hurricane season is fast approaching on June 1st.

A recent press release dated May 19, 2011, from NOAA, predicts a busy hurricane season. This prediction comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – a division of the National Weather Service which forecasts an above-normal hurricane season this year. The NOAA forecasts 12 to 18 named storms this year, of which 6 to 10 of the named storms could become hurricanes carrying winds of 74 mph or higher, while 3 to 6 of the named storms could become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). In comparison, the seasonal average is 11 named storms, six hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

With the awareness we now have about a busy hurricane season, everyone should have an individual, family or business evacuation plan in place. Planning should include all members of the family or your business. An emergency plan will be unique to each family’s or business’ needs. Now is the perfect time to start preparing your evacuation plan. Preparation is important for both your family’s safety and your peace of mind.

Steps to Creating your Grab & Go Box:

Step 1 Decide What Goes in Your Box

Create a list of items to pack in your Grab & Go Box. Tip: Tape your list to the inside of the box lid so you’ll always know where to find it when you’ll need it most.

Step 2 Pack Your Box

For items that you can store now (such as copies of important papers), be sure to place papers in sealed, waterproof plastic bags. Your Grab & Go Box needs to be a box that is durable and can be sealed. A portable, fireproof and waterproof box or waterproof backpack is recommended. For items that you need daily access to such as medications, simply include a list of medications on your Grab & Go Box list.

Be sure to include a “Storm Information Packet." Gather fact sheets, brochures on storm recovery and contact numbers of local government offices. There will be moments before, during and after a storm when you may be unsure of where to turn for information. Having a storm information packet may provide some security. Download your free Storm Recovery Guide along with other relevant brochures on what to do before, during and after a storm as part of our disaster information resource series.

Step 3 Store Your Box

Place your box at home in an easily accessible, secure, dry place. Be sure that no other boxes are stacked on top of your Grab & Go Box throughout the year. Having to unstack boxes to access your Grab & Go Box can create unnecessary stress during an emergency. Also, during the year, you may wish to make changes to your list or add items to the box so you should always have easy access to your Grab & Go Box.

Step 4 Grab Your Box and Go

In the event of an evacuation, refer to your list of items (that you taped to the inside of the box lid) to use for speedy packing. Then GRAB your box and GO! Tip: Keep the box with you at all times. Never leave the box unattended in your car.

Need some help creating your list? Go to the LSU AgCenter website for ideas on what to include in your Grab & Go Box.

Planning and preparation can prevent the unexpected from becoming a harsh reality. Taking time prior to an emergency to prepare and organize important papers and documents will save you from unwanted stress and chaos in the event of a disaster.

Lastly, consider this thought: if something is important to you, then it should be important enough to make a plan to protect it. The key step; however, is to put your plan into action. I urge you to put your plan into action by creating or updating your Grab & Go Box - since June 1st is right around the corner.

For questions related to family and consumer sciences, contact Penny Thibodeaux, LSU AgCenter Extension Agent, at 337-824-1773.

5/21/2011 1:28:33 AM
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